Appeal denied for challenge of Australia’s racial vilification law


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Australian man sentenced to three years in prison for posting an anti-Semitic video on YouTube was denied in his appeal to have his conviction overturned.

A three-judge panel of the Western Australia Supreme Court of Appeal said last Friday that the sentence given to Brendan Lee O’Connell, 41, of Perth, was high but warranted. The jailing was the first under Western Australia’s racial vilification laws.

O’Connell was found guilty in 2009 of six offenses for posting a video calling a Jewish man a "racist, homicidal maniac." He also said Judaism was a “religion of racism, hate, homicide and ethnic cleansing."

O’Connell appealed his conviction, saying he had been convicted for thought crimes. He went on a 29-day hunger strike, took four days off, and then resumed not eating in an attempt to have the court hear his appeal.    

In his opinion on the prison term, Justice Robert Mazza wrote, "I do not think it was so high as to be unjust or unreasonable."

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