SYDNEY (JTA) – A man who was found guilty of vandalizing a historic Jewish cemetery in New Zealand must leave the country to avoid a jail sentence.
Christian Landmark, 20, in Auckland District Court on Friday was ordered by Judge Russell Collins to return to court in August with proof of an airline ticket to leave the country or be sentenced to prison, local media reported.
Landmark, who is not a New Zealand citizen, could not be sentenced to community service. But he must pay $3,000 for repairs to the graves at the Symonds Street cemetery, which was vandalized last October.
More than 20 gravestones, some dating to the 1880s, were desecrated with swastikas and the number 88 – code for “Heil Hitler,” prompting New Zealand Jewish Council President Stephen Goodman to describe it as ”a wanton act of anti-Semitic vandalism.”
Charges of willful damage carry a maximum penalty of seven years in jail in New Zealand. Landmark has been in custody since his trial, but was allowed out on bail after the hearing on condition he surrender his passport.
“I seriously doubt you have any insight into how distressing the spraying of the symbol of that regime is to New Zealanders,” the judge said.
Another man, Robert Moulden, pleaded guilty and was ordered to do community service. Moulden, who has no family, has attended a Sabbath dinner and been learning about the Holocaust in a restorative justice program organized by local Jews.