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Court ignores calls for hate crimes charges

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — A man who assaulted a Ukraine rabbi was given a suspended sentence.

A Sevastopol court on July 21 found Roman Shvedov, 41, guilty of "hooliganism" but suspended his four-year prison sentence for the September 2007 attack on Rabbi Benjamin Wolf.

Wolf, the chief rabbi of Sevastopol, was on his way home from synagogue on a Friday night, dressed in traditional Chasidic garb, when Shvedov began shouting anti-Semitic threats at the rabbi before beating him. The rabbi suffered a broken nose and concussion. The attacker also deliberately ripped the rabbi’s clothes before fleeing. 

Local police arrested Shvedov on Oct. 1, 2007 and routinely classified the attack as a case of “hooliganism.” The local Jewish community appealed to add a hate crimes charge to the indictment, which is punishable by additional prison time, but to no avail. Hate crimes legislation is rarely applied in Ukraine. 

Along with the suspended sentence, Shvedov was ordered to pay Wolf 5,000 hryvnia, or about $625. He also must remain in the area.

According to the court, Shvedov pleaded guilty and was repentant.

Wolf told JTA that the Jewish community is outraged by the court’s decision and is insisting that Shvedov be charged with interethnic and interfaith incitement because he was motivated by hatred of Jews, focusing on the rabbi’s external appearance.

 

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