Main | Tuesday, May 06, 2014

SEATTLE: No Hate Crime Or Terrorism Charges In Gay Nightclub Arson

From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
The man who tried to kill a crowd of 750 people packed inside a popular Seattle gay bar by setting it afire on New Year’s Eve has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of arson. Despite some evidence that he was motivated by hatred of LGBT people, Musab Mohammad Masmari will not face federal hate crime charges. The Seattle Times reports that Masmari, a 30-year-old American-born man of Libyan extraction and upbringing, reached an agreement with prosecutors on Friday to plead guilty to arson. Though prosecutors had substantial reason to believe it was an anti-LGBT bias crime, he will not face federal hate-crime charges. Prosecutors said that Masmari’s motives will be addressed by the judge during the sentencing phase, which comes next week.
According to Masmari's plea agreement, prosecutors will only ask for a five-year prison sentence. The SPLC notes that the judge is free to disregard the agreement and sentence Masmari to up to twenty years in prison. (Tipped by JMG reader David)

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