By Le Figaro with AFP
The trial of the alleged perpetrator of a 2018 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest against Jews in US history UNITED STATES and for which he faces the death penalty, opened on Tuesday May 30 in the midst of a surge of anti-Semitic acts in this country.
The selection of the jury of the federal court of Pennsylvania (Northeast) had started on April 24 for a duration of four weeks and the trial really started Tuesday to judge Robert Bowers, 50, prosecuted on 63 counts.
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“All Jews must die”
This white trucker who first pleaded “not guilty“(before his lawyers offer in vain to plead”guiltyin exchange for the guarantee that he would not be sentenced to death) is accused in particular of having perpetrated eleven murders aggravated by the qualification of an anti-Semitic act. “The extent of the malevolence and hatred of the accused can be seen in the broken bodiesof the victims, thundered Assistant Federal Prosecutor Soo C. Song in her first speech, according to the American judicial press.
On October 27, 2018, Bowers broke into the synagogue.Tree of Lifefrom Pittsburgh, armed with three pistols and a semi-automatic assault rifle. Calling out “all jews must die“, he had opened fire and killed 11 people, including a 97-year-old faithful, in the middle of a Shabbat ceremony in a historic Jewish district of Pittsburgh, committing the bloodiest attack against Jews in the United States.
Death penalty debate
Before that, he had posted racist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant messages on a far-right social network. Then-President Republican Donald Trump had sought the death penalty for Robert Bowers, a request followed by the Justice Department and upheld after Democratic President Joe Biden’s term began on January 20, 2021.
But while candidate Biden had pledged in 2020 to abolish the death penalty at the national level, this trial revives in the United States the debates around this supreme punishment still practiced in many American states. As early as 2019, the Pittsburgh federal prosecutor had indicated that he would seek the death penalty for Robert Bowers, citing his “lack of remorse» et «his hatred and his contemptfor Jews.
Increase in antisemitic acts
His lawyer Judy Clarke immediately admitted that her client was indeed the man who had shot Jews. “There is no point in looking for meaning in a senseless act“, she defended, seeking above all to save the life of Bowers rather than to plead his innocence. The trial, which is expected to last until July, takes place amid a surge in racist and anti-Semitic acts in the United States, which have reached the highest level in 30 years, according to federal police statistics. , the FBI, quoted in April by the Washington Post.
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According to the American organization for the fight against anti-Semitism Anti Defamation League, the country had experienced a record number of 2,717 anti-Semitic acts in 2021 (assaults, verbal attacks, material damage, etc.), an increase of 34% on a year. In 2022, this association counted 3,697 anti-Semitic acts (+36% over one year), unheard of since 1979, according to the Washington Post.
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