Friday, August 19, 2011
Neo Nazis shaved swastika on man's head and branded his arm
The first defendants to be prosecuted under a new federal hate crimes law pleaded guilty Thursday to branding a swastika into the skin of a mentally challenged Navajo Indian.
Two New Mexico neo-Nazis pleaded guilty in Albuquerque, to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The act was signed into law by President Obama in 2009.
Paul Beebe, 28, and Jesse Sanford, 26, lured Vincent Kee, 22, to Beebe's swastika-bedecked apartment in Farmington, New Mexico, on April 29, 2010 and tortured him for hours.
They put a towel in his mouth to stop his screams and used a wire hanger heated on the stove to brand a swastika into his arm.
They also shaved a swastika into his hair and wrote 'KKK' and 'White Power' on his body.
They recorded the incident with a cellphone camera, the New York Daily News reports.
The facts of this case shock the conscience,' said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The young victim in this case was assaulted, branded and scarred because he happens to be a Native American - that simply is inexcusable and criminal,' said New Mexico's U.S. Attorney, Kenneth Gonzales.
Today's guilty pleas demonstrate the law enforcement community's resolve to bring to justice anyone who victimizes a person because of the colour of their skin or ethnic heritage.
They face up to 10 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
The new hate crimes law is named for Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming teenager who was tortured and left to die tied to a fence post, and James Byrd Jr., the black Texas man who was chained to a pickup truck by the ankles and dragged two miles to his death.
Mr Perez said more than 80 investigations are ongoing under the new law.