Hakim Bouaoune, 21; Yassin Gsimi, 25; and Nabil Achenani, 20, all from Bellegarde, a small city in southeastern France, were sentenced Tuesday to nine months in jail for having severely beaten a Jewish teenager last August.
The three had been denied entrance to a night club in nearby Annecy because they were apparently drunk. Determined to take revenge, they started to look for trouble when they heard a teenager call her boyfriend "Abraham."
The three immediately surrounded the youth, yelled anti-Semitic insults and beat him.
The night club's bouncers intervened with attack dogs and held the assailants until the police arrived. Abraham (full name withheld by law, since he is underage) was taken to hospital.
The first police reports denied any anti-Semitic aspect to the attack, despite witnesses testifying the opposite.
The three should have been tried immediately, but Abraham's relatives were not reachable. The 16-year-old, a French national of Venezuelan origin, goes to school in Annecy. The trial was finally held this week, and the anti-Semitic character of the aggression was recognized by the court.
The defense lawyer denied any anti-Semitic intent, saying the three didn't intend to go on a Jew-beating rampage but were simply drunk.
Abraham's lawyer condemned the "abominable words" used by the three, adding, "You are the ones who complain about racism and about the fact that you are not treated with respect, but you are also the ones to behave with hatred. Why did you do to him what is repugnant to you? One is entitled in 2006 to be named Abraham or Yusuf and to be left alone."
According to local Jewish leaders, this is the first occurrence of an anti-Semitic attack in this region of France.
The sentence is the harshest ever imposed in France for an anti-Semitic attack.
In a related incident, a bomb was found last Friday near the entrance to the synagogue in Bastia, on the island of Corsica.
According to police sources, the device was defective and could not explode. No one claimed responsibility for this attempted attack against one of the tiniest French Jewish communities - about 15 people.