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Man Gets Prison for Religious Hate Crimes

June 12, 2002|KENNETH REICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A self-styled Muslim fundamentalist from Egypt was sentenced Tuesday to nearly five years in state prison for attacking religious statues at a Culver City Catholic church and school in October and stealing hundreds of Muslim magazines from a mosque in South Los Angeles that he left at the church.

Los Angeles resident Emad Ibrahim Saad, 35, had fired several attorneys and insisted on representing himself at his trial until the last day, when he refused to emerge from lockup and go to court.

Superior Court Judge Robert P. O'Neill then named attorney Louis Sepe to represent him for the closing of the trial. Sepe could not be reached after the verdict. The defendant, unable to make bail, has been held since his arrest and will get credit for time served.

According to testimony, Saad decapitated the Virgin Mary statue at St. Augustine's Church and school on Oct. 28. He also cut a hand off a statue of St. Rita and carted a statue of Father Junipero Serra, which he cut off at the feet, a mile away to a mosque.

The leaders of the King Fahd mosque in Culver City immediately notified police and apologized to the church, saying Saad's acts were an attempt to cause a rift between the two houses of worship.

Testimony also was heard that Saad earlier stole up to 2,000 copies of a Muslim magazine from the Masjid as-Salaam mosque in South Los Angeles, strewing them about at St. Augustine's and other churches.

Hate crime prosecutor Erwin Petilos of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said about $15,000 damage was done at St. Augustine's. The Junipero Serra statue has been replaced by the William Hannon Foundation, and a new Virgin Mary statue, paid for by contributions by students and others, is on order, said Norman Mazey, the school's principal.

O'Neill sentenced Saad to two years in prison for damaging the statues, two years for the hate crime that was involved in that act and eight months for stealing the Muslim magazines.

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