As far as I'm aware the only previous 5-year ban was for Clootie who was caught DDOSing/attempting to DDOS an ETF2L player; when confronted Clootie showed no remorse and in the face of insurmountable evidence denied the allegations (I seem to recall he was resolved to do it again). The 5-year ban effectively made an example out of him, back when multiple players/games were being targetted by DDOS attacks, DDOSing would ABSOLUTELY not be tolerated.
I hope that this ban will have been internally discussed and debated, with admins taking into account their own emotional bias. Ban lengths are complicated; there is no equation for working out how long a player should be banned, and the court of public opinion is always going to debate the length. I have always been a champion for the admins, it is a continually thankless role and it is easy to forget that these volunteers are human too, making what they believe to be the best decisions with the resources they have; they can act emotionally and are justified to be upset by the crass words of an immature player. The loss of a friend is an incredibly difficult thing to process, I hope everyone is giving themselves the time they need to mourn.
I don't think anyone will/should/can defend the words of Little Nyar, I do however believe that people can mature and learn from their mistakes and a 5-year ban does not leave any room to do that, as others have said it is effectively permanent forced extradition from our community. Perhaps Little Nyar can reflect on their actions, write an apology to the community and then the ETF2L admins can review what appears to be a very harsh punishment. Regardless and if the ban stands, it will be good for Little Nyar to internally reflect and understand that although we are an online community we are a part of the real world and therefore subject to the consequences of our actions.