Swedish court nixes deportation of Palestinian who firebombed synagogue

Appellate court says assailant cannot be returned to West Bank because anti-Semitic nature of attack could put him in danger from Israel

Police arrive after a synagogue was attacked in Gothenburg, Sweden, December 9, 2017. (Adam Ihse/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA)
Police arrive after a synagogue was attacked in Gothenburg, Sweden, December 9, 2017. (Adam Ihse/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA)

A Swedish court of appeals on Wednesday overturned a deportation order against a Palestinian man who firebombed a synagogue, saying he would be in danger from Israel because of his crime if returned to the Palestinian Authority.

The ruling by the Court of Appeals for Western Sweden was on a motion filed by one of the three migrants convicted of hurling Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Gothenburg last year in the wake of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In June, the Gothenburg District Court determined that the two Palestinians and one Syrian had “violate[d] an ethnic group because of its beliefs,” and sentenced them to jail terms between  one and two years for the arson attack.

The court also ordered one of the Palestinian defendants, who was in Sweden on an asylum seeker visa, to be deported back to the PA after completing his two-year sentence. The other two perpetrators, who reportedly had Swedish residency permits, were not ordered deported by the court.

Gothenburg Synagogue in Sweden (Gumisza/Wikipedia)

But on Wednesday, the SVT broadcaster reported that the deportation order was overturned on appeal since the perpetrator “could be perceived as a threat to other Jews,” and that Israel “might be interested in the matter.” In his decision, the judge said that Sweden “cannot safeguard the man’s fundamental human rights if he is deported to Palestine.”

A few days after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital last December, a dozen people threw multiple burning objects at the synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

Some 20 Jewish teens participating in a celebration briefly took shelter in a cellar during the attack, but no one was injured, and minor damage to the building was caused.

The attack, which was classified as a hate crime, was caught on surveillance cameras, leading to the arrests of the Palestinians and Syrian.

There are around 20,000 Jews living in Sweden, according to the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities.

The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention says there have been between 150 and 280 anti-Semitic acts, including threats, insults and violence, each year in the past decade.

JTA contributed to this report

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