UTT firebombing suspect pleads guilty


The case of the fireboming of the UTT library last April moved a step closer to resolution today, as the chief suspect in the case accepted a guilty plea to arson in exchange for the conspiracy charge being dropped:

Mr. Elmerhebi kept his head bowed slightly and his eyes on the floor as the plea was entered.

Evidence read in court said his arrest in May was prompted by police wiretaps and surveillance.

He was tracked by police after tanks of kerosene found at the United Talmud Torahs school were traced back to a Canadian Tire store where the manager confirmed that Mr. Elmerhebi was an employee.

Store surveillance cameras and receipts confirmed him as the buyer of the tanks. Receipts were also found in his home when it was searched by police.

Sounds like a lot of evidence to me. Elmerhebi probably took the best deal he could in light of the probable guilty verdict.

Elmerhebi’s mother has been charged as being an accessory, and has a court date still to come.

The school’s reaction was fairly pragmatic:

School principal Sydney Benudiz was satisfied with the plea.

“Something wrong was done to our school and we hoped that justice would be served and it seems that it’s going to be served,” he said outside court. “We just want our lives back.”

This is pretty much how the system is supposed to work. People commit a crime, they get caught, they get arrested, they get punished. The article didn’t mention anything about sentencing but those details will likely follow.

However, I still think this should have been charged as a hate crime. I know this is a contentious issue especially among people who don’t believe in hate crime legislation. But motive is something we should take into account when determining a punishment to fit a crime. We already do, when we consider that a calculated crime for profit, for example, is worse than a non-premeditated crime of passion. A crime motivated by hate or racism is more serious than one with most other motives, because of its potential to set off hatred among others in the community, and because of the offender’s higher likelihood of reoffending. I think that in clear-cut cases of crime motivated by hatred, sentencing should be more severe.

A punishment that would truly fit the crime would be to compel Elmerhebi to contribute towards paying the millions of dollars that the Jewish community is now forced to spend on security guards for schools and campuses.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jonny 12.16.04 at 7:43 PM

Elmerhebi’s mother has been charged as being an accessory!

Gee, what a lovely family.


2 Frank P. 12.16.04 at 11:01 PM

The disgusting parallel to this issue is how the so-called “pure laines” francophones derided the Jewish community for denouncing the violence and demanding justice. Tolerance is very present in Quebec…yeeah right.


3 Otter 12.17.04 at 6:08 AM

I’m not especially enthusiastic about hate crime legislation, but — if you’re going to have them, they absolutely need to be applied to everyone equally. If this isn’t a hate crime, what on earth is?

(If anything, the next story you have, which *is* being charged as a hate crime, seems more like a case of “lunatic tries to kill dumbass”.)


4 segacs 12.17.04 at 1:29 PM

Otter, the above story was in Plattsburgh and is being charged under the New York State criminal code. The firebombing was in Montreal and is charged under Canadian law. You can’t expect the law in two countries to be the same or used in the same way.


5 DaninVan 12.18.04 at 1:45 AM

Just as I suspected, you Montrealers have seceded and didn’t tell the rest of Canada!


6 Otter 12.21.04 at 6:06 PM

Yes, I understand that those two cases are in different countries — I’m comparing the them in that light. On the other hand, if Montreal/Quebec/Canada (whichever is relevant in this instance) is going to prosecute hate crimes at all, the UTT incident certainly has to qualify.


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