Canada’s Attorney General Urged to Give Tougher Sentence in ‘Burn the Jew’ Anti-Semitic Assault Case
Canada’s Attorney General was urged on Wednesday to review its guidelines for imposing tougher sentences for hate crimes after a controversial ruling that disappointed many in the country’s Jewish community, when a 15-year old high school student who grabbed a classmate’s hair, screamed, “Let’s burn the Jew!” and lit her hair on fire, was let off the hook.
“The defendant, in shouting ‘Let’s burn the Jew’ while assaulting the victim, clearly showed that his animus was inspired by anti-Semitism. If this doesn’t meet the test for sentencing enhancement few things do,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. “It is a disappointing decision that makes no sense in the face of the facts and the troubling situation that apparently prevailed in the school.”
“This is a case that should be reviewed on appeal, however the Attorney General should take the opportunity to review and reject the policy approach taken by the Crown and adopted by the Judge in this case at once,” Dimant said.
The crux of the defense’s case, according to the Winnipeg Free Press last week, was that, while the perpetrator admitted grabbing the girl’s hair, calling out, “Let’s burn the Jew!” and lighting a flame with a lighter, the victim, a 15-year old girl, was to blame for the damage, for pulling away, into the fire.
Winnipeg Provincial Court Judge Robert Finlayson said that while the crime was “totally vulgar and inappropriate,” it was not racially motivated. He also said that the school environment, where this type of act is apparently frequent, was “unhealthy and dark and there’s no place for it in society.”
The defendant initially plead guilty in 2011 to assault with a deadly weapon, but that plea was changed. In the end, he was sentenced to 18 months of probation, counseling, and 75 hours of community service. He was also ordered to write an apology to the victim.