Twitter and Facebook summoned to court as social media users warned against sharing images of Boy A and Boy B

A judge at the Central Criminal Court has warned that it is an offence to publish anything identifying the two boys convicted of Ana Kriegel's murder and anyone who does so will be "treated in the most serious fashion".

Representatives of Twitter and Facebook will appear in court tomorrow after it emerged that social media users had identified the 14-year-old boys despite an order by the trial judge preventing their being named and a provision under the Children Act that prohibits the identification of minors accused or convicted of a criminal offence.

Brendan Grehan SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) today raised a concern with Justice Michael White seeking an order for Facebook and Twitter to remove from their platforms any material identifying the boys.

Making the order, Mr Justice White issued a "trenchant warning" to any individual who decides to try to identify the boys, saying they will be subject to a contempt of court application and "will be treated in the most serious fashion".

Mr Grehan said the court has "unlimited powers" of detention and fine for anyone found in contempt of court.

Justice White said the trial was a particularly sensitive one and nobody could be under the illusion that publishing the identities of the accused is not prohibited by the Children Act.

He also made an order for Facebook and Twitter to appear in court tomorrow morning in relation to contempt of court proceedings issued against them. He further ordered that any material identifying the boys be removed from those platforms.

Mr Grehan raised the issue, saying that lawyers for Boy B had contacted the DPP's office and alerted them to images published on Facebook alongside derogatory comments.

Counsel said some of the commentators seemed to be aware that there was an order made to protect the boys' identities.

Mr Grehan said the individuals who published the photographs can be identified but the images had been shared and it is not yet clear to what extent.

He said it is the DPP's view that the owners of Facebook and Twitter have a responsibility in respect of the matter and the DPP was seeking an order against those platforms directing them to remove photos or any other material that would identify either of the boys.

The boys, identified in the media only as Boy A and Boy B, were convicted yesterday of murdering Ana Kriegel at Glenwood House, Laraghcon, Clonee Road, Lucan on May 14 last year.

Boy A was also convicted of Ana's aggravated sexual assault in a manner that involved serious violence to her. Both boys had pleaded not guilty and were convicted by unanimous jury verdicts on all counts following an eight-week trial.

Twitter and Facebook summoned to court as social media users warned against sharing images of Boy A and Boy B

A spokesperson for Facebook said: "As soon as we became aware of content identifying Boy A and Boy B being shared on Facebook this morning, we removed this content immediately for violating our Community Standards and local law. We also applied our photo-matching technology to prevent this content from being re-shared on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger. We will continue to remove this content from our platforms.”

Meanwhile, gardaí are warning people they face fines of up to €10,000 and three years in jail if convicted of sharing photos of children at court proceedings.

It follows the high profile Ana Kriegel trial, with reports that photographs of the two 14-year-old boys convicted of her murder are being shared online.

Gardaí have issued a statement reminding people of the right to anonymity of a child in court proceedings.

They say no picture which purports to be or includes a picture of the child, or which is likely to lead to his or her identification, shall be published or included in a broadcast.

They cited section 252(1)(b) of the Children Act 2001 which states that " no picture which purports to be or include a picture of the child or which is likely to lead to his or her identification, shall be published or included in a broadcast”.

Anyone who contravenes these laws and is convicted could face a €1,500 fine and up to 12 months in prison, or, if indicted, up to three years in prison and a €10,000 fine.

Additional reporting by Digital Desk staff

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