Neo-Nazi convicted for desecrating Jewish cemetery

12th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

COLMAR, France, Sept 12, 2007 (AFP) - A former security guard and neo-Nazi was sentenced to 30 months in jail on Wednesday for the desecration of more than 100 graves in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France.

COLMAR, France, Sept 12, 2007 (AFP) - A former security guard and neo-Nazi was sentenced to 30 months in jail on Wednesday for the desecration of more than 100 graves in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France.

Emmanuel Rist, 37, described as the "mastermind" of the April 2004 attack at the Herrlisheim cemetery, had expressed regret for his actions during the three-day trial.

His co-defendants, Laurent Boulanger, 27, and Laurent Peterschmitt, 28, were sentenced to 18 months and six months in jail respectively for daubing swastikas, Nazi insignia and anti-Semitic slogans at the cemetery.

The desecration of the graves -- the first in a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the eastern Alsace region in 2004 -- drew swift condemnation from French political leaders and many had visited the cemetery to underscore their concern.  

Rist told police during questioning that he chose the Herrlisheim cemetery because of the letter "H" which evoked Hitler and to mark the anniversary of his death of April 30 1945.

But the former security guard, who faces charges of murder and attempted murder of two Moroccan men in separate cases, told the court on Tuesday that he had abandoned his neo-Nazi views and that it was wrong to praise the Third Reich.

"All men are equal in their suffering, be they Jews, north Africans, French or Italian," said Rist.

Saying he "had had time to think in prison," Rist resolved that it was "completely stupid to defend a regime that hurt so many people."

Prosecutor Pascal Schultz nevertheless requested a maximum sentence of three years in jail for Rist, saying that he had "not totally renounced" his neo-Nazi views and was guilty of damage to property and inciting hatred.

Swastikas, Celtic crosses and Nazi inscriptions were found on 117 of the 400 graves at Herrlisheim while a plaque at the entrance of the cemetery bearing a Jewish prayer had been defaced with the writing "Juden raus" (Jews Out).

AFP

Subject: French news

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