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Hasidic Youth's Slaying in Attack on Bridge Brings a 141-Year Term

January 19, 1995|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — A Lebanese immigrant who strafed a van full of Hasidic Jewish teen-agers as it crossed the Brooklyn Bridge was sentenced Wednesday to 141 years in prison for killing one of them and wounding three others.

State Supreme Court Justice Harold Rothwax said he will recommend that 29-year-old Rashid Baz never get parole.

A jury Dec. 1 rejected Baz's claim that his childhood in war-torn Beirut produced post-traumatic stress syndrome that brought on the March 1 attack.

Baz, a livery cab driver, was convicted of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder. He had opened fire on the van from his cab with a 9-millimeter pistol.

The 15 young men in the van were all wearing the black garb of ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher Jews. They were returning from a visit to the Lubavitchers' leader, Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, at a hospital. He died in June.

The judge took to heart the impassioned and tearful plea of Devorah Halberstam, the mother of the slain boy, 16-year-old Aaron Halberstam.

"This murderer must live and die behind bars and barbed wire," she said, pointing to Baz. "He must spend the remainder of his natural life caged like the remorseless creature that he is."

Defense attorney Eric Sears dismissed her suggestion that the crime was linked to fundamentalist terrorism elsewhere in the world.

Her husband, Rabbi David Halberstam, said when Baz was convicted that Baz's actions were revenge for a Feb. 25 massacre on Israel's West Bank, in which a Jewish settler killed 29 Arabs as they prayed in a mosque.

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