RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Three neo-Nazis who attacked a group of Jews on a Brazilian street in 2005 were sentenced to prison in what is being called an unprecedented decision.
Along with attempted aggravated murder, the charges also reflected the fact that one of the motivations for the crime was religious, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported about the Wednesday trial, where Nazi flags with swastikas and other Nazi material were displayed.
“On the day the Jewish community celebrates Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Judgment, three skinheads were convicted of the 2005 aggression,” said Zalmir Chwartzmann, president of the Rio Grande do Sul state Jewish federation. “It brings the feeling that justice was done.”
Chwartzmann said the unprecedented decision raises awareness about the dangers of hate speech and intolerance.
The victims were attacked while walking on a street in Porto Alegre. The skinheads spotted them from inside a bar and came out to beat them; they stabbed one in the stomach.
During the assault, three more skinheads prevented others from intervening to help the victims. Each attacker was given a slightly different sentence, depending on his participation in the attack. Nine have been formally charged; six more will still face a judge.
“My mother has received calls in which nobody said anything, only played a German march,” one of the victims said in court.
According to the prosecution, the defendants are part of a criminal organization of skinheads that preaches prejudice against certain racial and social groups, including Jews, blacks, homosexuals and punks.
“Today’s trial enters into the history of Brazilian justice, not only for the Jewish community, but for every society that needs to fight the hatred and hate speech of radicals,” Chwartzmann said.