Jail time for firebomber

01.18.05

Sleiman El-Merhebi, who was convicted of the firebombing of UTT St-Laurent’s library last April, has been sentenced to 40 months in prison, for a politically-motivated crime that the judge called “terrorism”:

Last month, El-Merhebi told the court he was driven to the crime by news of Israeli attacks on Palestinians. The arson “was an emotional response,” he said. “I was reacting to acts of violence in the Middle East that I saw on television.”

A note left at the scene of the blaze claimed the attack was in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Sure, blame the media. Blame Israel. Blame anyone but himself. This time, that strategy won’t work, because El-Merhebi is in jail now where he belongs.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 josh 01.19.05 at 8:19 AM

40 months = three years and 4 months.

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2 segacs 01.19.05 at 3:02 PM

With time already served, he’ll probably be in jail about another 2 years.

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3 Hanthala 01.19.05 at 8:36 PM

I thought it was a pretty lame sentence too. No one was hurt physically, but that’s not to say not one was harmed. Incarceration is necessary, but more importantly, I hope someone gets a hold of this guy to shake him out of his “rationalization” that he somehow retaliated agains the actions of the Israeli government, or he’ll just get out and do something similar again.

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4 DaninVan 01.19.05 at 10:02 PM

Holy crap! Hanthala, where ya been, Woman?

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5 Peter 01.20.05 at 12:57 AM

40 months? In the U.S. he would have gotten 40 years to life. How will 40 months deter another terrorist? And how will it stop this guy from doing it again?

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6 JayBee 01.20.05 at 6:33 PM

Peter, are you from the U.S.? I am, and I must say that 40 months struck me as an appropriately severe sentence for a young offender with no prior record, and where there was no bodily harm.

Would the sentence have been different in the U.S.? I don’t know. Many states, including Illinois, where I live, have “hate crime” statutes that provide enhanced penalties where the crime is motivated by the victim’s race or religion (among other catagories. The statute reads as follows:

(a) A person commits hate crime when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, he commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action or or disorderly conduct.

A first offense hate crime is a Class 4 felony. The maximum sentence for a Class 4 felony is a prison term of 1 to 3 years. Subsequent offenses are Class 2 felonies. The maximum penalty for a Class 2 felony is a term of 3 to 7 years.

However, the UTT bombing could also have been charged in Illinois as arson, which is a Class 2 felony regardless of motive (there are enhanced penalties over and above Class 2 for arson to a residence or arson causing bodily harm).

Either way, I can’t think of any theory under which the UTT bomber could have been sentenced to 40 years.

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