Friday, February 26, 2010

Anti-Semitism: US court sentences Bulgarian immigrant to 18 years for anti-Semitism

FOCUS Information Agency - Bulgarian immigrant Ivaylo Ivanov claimed Thursday before sentencing that he only spray-painted swastikas to raise awareness about anti-Semitism; that his cache of homemade bombs was just a “weird” hobby; and that at the time, he was high on amphetamines, Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports.

“My intent and my motivation … [for] committing this hate crime was not based on anti-Semitism; it was the opposite,” Ivanov, who wore a Jewish yarmulke to court, said before being sentenced for spray-painting swastikas and scattering anti-Semitic leaflets around Brooklyn Heights in 2007.

Earlier this month Ivanov, 39, pled guilty to various hate crimes, as well as felony weapons charges, in exchange for a set sentence of 18 years in prison.

“It was our tolerance of a well-known anti-Semite,” said Ivanov, in reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s infamous speech at Columbia University on Sept. 24, 2007 — the same day that prosecutors say Ivanov tagged cars, sidewalks and synagogues in Brooklyn Heights with swastikas.

“It’s basically opening a door to anyone with such a belief to express their hate, and anti-Semitism, without consequence,” Ivanov said, stuttering at times in fluent but accented English.

Ivanov waived his right to appeal as part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, and he will not be eligible for parole.

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