Venezela Police Officers Charged in Synagogue Attack

Published: March 26, 2009


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan prosecutors have charged eight police officers and three other people in connection with a break-in and vandalism in January at Caracas’s largest synagogue, prosecutors said Thursday.

The prosecutors said in a statement that they had asked a court to approve the charges, including robbery, “acts of contempt against a religion” and concealing firearms.

The suspects include a police officer who worked as a bodyguard for a rabbi. Another suspect is one of two security guards on duty during the attack. The guard is suspected of helping intruders by deactivating an alarm and an electric fence surrounding the building.

Vandals broke into the synagogue, Tiferet Israel, on Jan. 31, shattering religious objects, spray-painting anti-Semitic slogans and stealing a computer database with the names and addresses of Jews in Venezuela.

Investigators believe that the assailants had planned to steal a large amount of money they thought was inside.

The attack occurred shortly after President Hugo Chávez severed diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of its military campaign in Gaza, provoking concerns among some Jewish leaders that his fiery rhetoric was encouraging a wave of anti-Semitism.

Mr. Chávez, who condemned the synagogue attack, has repeatedly said he simply opposes Israeli policies toward the Palestinians and holds nothing against the Jewish people.

Venezuela’s Jewish population numbers nearly 15,000.

In late February, assailants threw an explosive device at a Jewish community center in Caracas, but nobody was hurt in the blast. No one claimed responsibility for that attack


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