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A Yemeni court ruled Monday that a Muslim on trial for killing a Yemeni Jew is mentally incompetent and merely ordered him to pay a fine for the fatal shooting.
The slaying of Jewish teacher Moshe Yaish Nahari last December in Omran, north of the capital, San'a, raised fears of anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Monday's ruling said the defendant - Abdel Aziz Yehia Hamoud al-Abdi, a retired pilot in the Yemeni air force - is "mentally unstable." It ordered him to pay a fine of 50.5 million riyals, or about $250,000.
Lawyer Khaled al-Anisi representing the slain teacher says the court showed "prejudice" and warned the light ruling opened doors to attacks that could lead to the eviction of the Jewish community from Yemen.
A Yemeni Web site, newsyemen.net, quoted the local police chief, Ahmed Yahya al-Suraihi, as saying at the time that Abdi, 40, had confessed to the murder, saying he had killed Nahari "for the sake of Allah."
The police chief was quoted as saying that Abdi told police he had sent a message to the Jews who live in the area that they must either embrace Islam, leave the country or be killed.
Prior to his murder, Nahari had previously received threats from Al-Houthi rebels, a Shi'ite minority that has been fighting government forces since 2004.
About 280 Jews currently reside in Yemen, 230 of whom live in Raida in the Omran province, with the other 50 in Sana'a. The Jews now in Sana'a fled there from their homes in Sa'ade province about a year ago due to harassment by the Huthi, a terrorist group connected to al-Qaida.
Most of the Jews of Yemen immigrated to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet in 1950. Several hundred Jews immigrated in two subsequent smaller waves - in the mid 1960s and in the beginning of the 1990s.
Two weeks ago, a family from Raida - a town fraught with tension between its Jewish and Muslim residents in recent months - arrived in Israel in a special aliya operation, shrouded in secrecy, organized by the Jewish Agency and Yemenite Jewish Federation of America.
Abe Selig contributed to this report
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