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Lawyers ask court to reduce 13-year cyberbullying sentence in Amanda Todd case

Amsterdam application made over Canadian ruling involving Dutch citizen
In this courtroom sketch, Aydin Coban is pictured at B.C. Supreme Court, in New Westminster, B.C., on Monday, June 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jane Wolsak

A 13-year sentence a Canadian court handed to a Dutch cyber bully in a notorious case involving a young girl who took her own life in 2012 should be reduced to four-and-a-half years in the Netherlands, a prosecutor in Amsterdam said Thursday.

Aydin Coban was convicted last year of extortion, harassment and other crimes in a case involving Canadian teenager Amanda Todd who was blackmailed to expose herself in front of a webcam. The 15-year-old died by suicide after detailing her ordeal in a YouTube video watched by millions around the world.

Coban was already serving an 11-year sentence in the Netherlands for similar crimes targeting 33 other victims when he was extradited to Canada to face trial in the Todd case.

His Canadian sentence is to be served in the Netherlands after he serves out his original prison term in August next year. It must first be converted into a sentence in accordance with Dutch law.

Coban was not in court for a hearing Thursday at Amsterdam District Court to convert the Canadian sentence.

Public prosecutor Kasper van der Schaft told judges that a Dutch court would normally hand a four-year sentence to Coban for the crimes he was convicted for in Canada. But he urged judges to impose an extra six months.

Van der Schaft acknowledged that Canadians who are familiar with the Amanda Todd case would be “shocked” that a 13-year sentence imposed in Canada would be reduced to around a third of that in the Netherlands.

Coban’s Dutch lawyer, Robert Malewicz, called the Canadian sentence “exorbitantly high, even by Canadian standards.”

He said that Coban should not get any extra prison time, but if he does it should be no more than one year with six months suspended. That would mean Coban would only have to serve an extra six months if he commits another offense.

Malewicz criticized Canadian authorities for releasing Coban’s personal details, saying he now will forever be linked to the Amanda Todd case. Dutch authorities do not release full names or other identifying details about suspects in criminal cases.

“He will always be recognized,” Malewicz said. “That feels for him like a life sentence.”

The court said it would issue a decision on July 13. The sentencing ruling can be appealed in the Dutch Supreme Court.

The plight of Todd brought the problem of cyber bullying to mainstream attention in Canada.

In sentencing Coban last year, Canadian Justice Martha Devlin said that the “serious impact of the offences on Amanda was obvious to Mr. Coban and would have been obvious to anyone at the time.”

She added that “ruining Amanda’s life was Mr. Coban’s expressly stated goal. Sadly, one that he achieved.”

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