Man who attacked Poland's chief rabbi gets suspended prison term

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August 25, 2006 17:58
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A court gave a two-year suspended sentence Friday to a man who admitted attacking and insulting Poland's chief rabbi on a Warsaw street earlier this year. The man, identified only as Karol G., 33, was convicted of using violence and racially motivated hate speech, but was spared the maximum possible punishment of five years in prison, court spokeswoman Katarzyna Zuchowicz told The Associated Press. During the trial Friday, the man admitted that he provoked the incident by shouting "Poland for the Poles" at Rabbi Michael Schudrich and other Orthodox Jews, the news agency PAP reported. However, he denied punching Schudrich, as the rabbi had claimed, and said he only used a mace-like spray against the rabbi because the group started to follow him. He said he insulted the group because he believed they came from the United States and was convinced American Jews are anti-Polish, PAP said. The court also fined the defendant 4,000 zlotys (US$1,300), Zuchowicz said. This means he will be free, but he would have to serve the two years in prison should he commit another similar crime during five years of probation. The defendant had asked for the suspended term and fine, saying it would allow him to raise his young son, according to PAP. In response to the attack, President Lech Kaczynski and other leaders strongly condemned the May 27 incident and said they would not tolerate anti-Jewish crimes in Poland. Police tracked down the alleged perpetrator after several weeks, and Schudrich identified him in a lineup in June. The group that Karol G. attacked included men from Warsaw's Jewish community leaving a Sabbath service with children, said Malka Kafka, an official with the community. They were speaking Polish at the time of the attack, she said. Schudrich, a New Yorker who has served in Poland for many years, was in his hometown and could not attend the trial.

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