Official who killed fox cub demands compensation from online commenters

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Computer keyboard. Source: Priit Luts/ERR

Toomas Vannas, an official in Kärdla, capital of the island of Hiiumaa, who, reports say, last summer slaughtered a fox cub using a hammer, has been sending out dozens of cease-and-desist orders, demanding thousands of euros from members of the public who commented online concerning the incident, daily newspaper Postimees writes (link in Estonian).

Vannas has been aided in his legal pursuit by his lawyer, Robert Sarv.

A group of recipients of these notifications has been formed, representing 12 individuals, who say that the amounts requested are not justifiable.

In August last year, a fox cub was seen dashing into a into the backroom of a sportswear's store room on Sadama Street in Kärdla, with Toomas Vannas in pursuit. He then allegedly proceeded to beat the animal to death using a hammer, an action he said was justifiable given the unpredictable nature of wild animals.

Subsequent comments on the incident which appeared on social media and in the comments sections of the regular media reportedly directed obscenities towards Vannas, and also constituted somewhat of an online lynch mob, the complainants say.

Vannas stepped down from his local government post in the wake of the incident.

Robert Sarv, acting for Vannas, told Postimees that some individuals have already been taken to court.

Sarv said: "We have also made reasonable compromises where people have come to realize that they did not have the right to act in the way that they did. At the same time, we have heard some absurd excuses ... One of these was that an individual had handed his phone to a homeless person, by the shores of a lake, and the homeless individual had typed the actual comment themselves."

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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