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August 8 , 2014

Seattle arsonist given double the sentence

Seattle--Prosecutors asked for Musab Masmari to be sentenced to five years for his New Year’s Eve arson at Neighbours nightclub. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, however, sentenced him to ten years in prison on July 31.

While it was believed that the arson was an anti-gay hate crime, prosecutors did not believe they could prove it in court. They made a deal with defense attorneys, who claimed that the crime was fueled by alcohol and not homophobia, to ask the judge for a five-year sentence.

Masmari, 31, set the fire in the early minutes of 2014 by pouring gasoline in a back stairway of the nightclub and setting it alight. While there were 750 people at the bar that night, celebrating the new year, patrons noticed the fire quickly and kept it under control until the sprinkler system came on.

One of Masmari’s friends told investigators that he had confessed to the crime and told them he did it because homosexuality was wrong, and another associate said that he was generally hostile towards gays and lesbians.

However, Masmari also has a notable drinking problem, which rendered him jobless and living in his car by last year.

He was born in Los Angeles to Libyan parents. His father was studying film in L.A. He was raised in Libya for most of his childhood before moving to Washington in 2008.

He was arrested trying to flee the country, having booked a flight to Turkey.

Masmari wrote a letter to the court, saying that he had downed a bottle of whiskey and did not remember setting the fire, though he recognized himself in surveillance camera footage from the club.

“I do not believe that I am a bad man but when I get drunk I have done bad things,” he wrote, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. “I swear that it is my intent to never drink again.”

“I am sorry for the damage I caused, and I am grateful that no one was hurt,” he continued. “I should have gotten alcohol counseling… I wish I had.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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