US man sentenced to over 15 years in jail for burning mosque
A US court on Thursday sentenced a man to 183 months in prison for vandalizing and burning down the Islamic Centre of Columbia, Tennessee, the Justice Department said.
Eric Ian Baker pleaded guilty on September 18, 2009, to destruction of religious property and using fire to commit a felony, dpa reported.
Baker, 34, earlier admitted in court that he and two others made and used Molotov cocktail explosive devices to destroy the mosque on February 9, 2008. He also admitted to painting swastikas and the phrase "White Power" on the mosque.
He "admitted that he committed the arson because of the religious character of the property," according to a statement from the Justice Department.
"The right to worship without fear of this kind of violent interference is among our most fundamental civil rights," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "We will aggressively prosecute anyone who seeks to intimidate or injure any congregation because of what they believe, how they worship, or who they are."
One of Baker's co-defendants, Michael Corey Golden, was sentenced to 171 months for his role in the arson. The other co-defendant, Jonathan Edward Stone, pleaded guilty but has not yet been sentenced.