Dutch man on trial in Canada for cyberbullying teen before suicide

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The trial of a Dutch man accused of the online harassment of a Canadian teen, who eventually told her story on YouTube before dying by suicide in 2012, has begun in western Canada.

"This is Amanda's moment," her mother Carol Todd told the British Columbia Supreme Court in New Westminster at the start of the proceedings, which are expected to last seven weeks.

In October 2012, Amanda died by suicide at age 15 after posting a video, seen more than 14 million times, in which she used handwritten flash cards written in marker to explain how she was exploited online.

The 40-something defendant, Aydin Coban, is facing five charges including possession of child pornography, criminal harassment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty.

READ | Harsh fines or jail time in store for cyberbullies and online inciters of violence

Prosecutor Louise Kenworthy told the court that Amanda suffered harassment from ages 12 to 15 by one person using 20 different screen names on Facebook, YouTube and Skype.

Coban stands accused of convincing the teen to reveal her breasts via webcam, and then publishing the topless photo of her online after she refused to do it again. The Dutch national was extradited to Canada in December 2020.

Amanda's suicide triggered an outcry in Canada and a debate about the dangers of cyberbullying.

In 2017, Coban was already sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison in the Netherlands for committing "sextortion" against dozens of young girls, by either ordering them to pay him to return pornographic images - or forcing them to pose for more.

The teen victims lived in Australia, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States.

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