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Rubashkin attorneys want charges dismissed

NEW YORK (JTA) — Lawyers for Sholom Rubashkin, the ex-manager of a kosher slaughterhouse, want criminal charges against him dismissed, citing anti-Jewish bias.

At a Feb. 23 hearing in U.S. District Court in Iowa, attorneys for Rubashkin cited "flawed and biased" statements given by grand jury witnesses and federal prosecutors, the Des Moines Register reported.

A Chicago consultant hired by the defense, Patricia Kuehn, testified that "racial, cultural and religious matters" tainted the grand jury’s perception of Rubashkin. An attorney for the kosher company, Agriprocessors, compared the atmosphere in Iowa to Nazi-occupied Poland.

Federal prosecutors defended the charges and challenged Kuehn’s expertise.

The courtroom exchange is the latest development in the controversy surrounding Agriprocessors, which went into bankruptcy last year, several months after federal agents conducted a massive immigration raid at the company’s Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse last May.

Rubashkin, who was arrested several months after the raid, now faces a range of charges related to his management of the plant, including labor law violations, bank fraud and immigration violations.

In recent months, Rubashkin’s religion has become a factor in the case. His attorneys and several national Jewish organizations complained that federal prosecutors, in arguing against his release on bail, cited Israel’s Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to Jews, in concluding that Rubashkin was a flight risk. Rubashkin initially was denied bail but was released later.

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