Moroccan jailed for killing Jewish physician in Ukraine


(JTA) — A Moroccan man who killed a Jewish physician in Ukraine was sentenced to 15 years in jail after a court of appeals reversed his acquittal.

Shakeeb Otman from Casablanca was sent to jail on July 22 for the premeditated murder of Leon Fraifeld, an orthopedic surgeon from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine on Oct. 19, 2012.

The July 22 conviction and sentencing by the Lviv Region Court of Appeals reversed an acquittal from March 6 by the Lychakivs’kyi District Court in Lviv, where a jury found the defendant not guilty. But the prosecutor’s office appealed the decision.

Otman, who was studying law at a private university in Lviv when the murder happened, was arrested in the vicinity of the murder scene under the influence of alcohol. He has denied any involvement with the murder, which occurred at 6 a.m. on the street.

But the court of appeals’ panel of judges wrote he was guilty of the brutal act, which left the body of Fraifeld, 67 at the time of his death, so badly disfigured that his face was no longer recognizable.

Witnesses said they saw a man kicking Fraifeld while he was lying down and stomping his chest and face into a pulp.

The court ruling, which took an hour to read out, provided little insight into Otman’s motives, according to Meylakh Sheykhet, the Lviv-based Ukraine director for the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, who attended the delivery of the verdict.

“Now at least justice has been served,” said Sheykhet, who knew Fraifeld.  “He was an honest man and a brilliant physician and he will live forever in our minds.”

Recommended from JTA