BUENOS AIRES (JTA) – Members of a neo-Nazi gang were sentenced to years of jail time in an unprecedented punishment of hate crimes in Argentina.
A federal court in the Argentinian beach town of Mar del Plata, on Thursday sentenced seven of the eight men in the gang, who were convicted of carrying out a series of violent attacks against the city’s LGBT and Bolivian communities, and left a wave of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic graffiti.
The sentences ranged from nine years and six months in prison to four years and six months in prison. A 19-year-old gang member was sentenced to two years of social treatment and observation, since he was under age when the crimes were committed.
It is the first time that a neo-Nazi gang has received such heavy sentences.
An eighth defendant was acquitted due lack of evidence surrounding his alleged involvement in the gang and its activities.
Evidence presented during the trial showed that the men were responsible for a wave of violent attacks and vandalism that took place in Mar del Plata from July 2013 through 2015.
“The defendants profess a totalitarian, racist and violent ideology, the dynamics of hatred that stimulates the Nazi ideology entails looking for reaffirmation in front of the other, in front of the different, through violence. The objective related to the different, the inferior, the non-Aryan is first to silence it and then to move it away and finally exterminate it,” said judges Roberto Falcone, Mario Portela, and Bernardo Bibel in their unanimous sentence.
“The crimes carried out by the accused incited hate, discrimination and violence, all of which are sentiments that destroy our social and democratic order,” the judges also wrote.
The full sentence will be published on May 10.
Argentina has had an anti-discrimination law on the books since 1988.
The prosecutor in the case had asked for a maximum of 3 years in prison, but attorneys for DAIA, the Argentinean Jewish political umbrella organization, asked for 15 years.
Human rights and Jewish organizations praised the judgement.
“Argentina, the country that at the end of World War II received the most Nazi war criminals, cannot afford leniency to neo-Nazis. This is landmark case,” Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement.
Some neo-Nazi supporters present at the court became violent after the reading of the sentence.