US veteran sentenced to 55 years in prison for Islamophobic murder

World
Sun, 25 Jun 2023 7:01 GMT
A U.S. army veteran has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the murder of an Afghan refugee after shouting Islamophobic slurs at the victim.
US veteran sentenced to 55 years in prison for Islamophobic murder

A U.S. army veteran has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the murder of an Afghan refugee after shouting Islamophobic slurs at the victim.

After a three-day trial, Dustin Passarelli was convicted in the Midwestern U.S. state of Indiana of the murder of Mustafa Ayoubi, 32, with additional time for using a firearm.

Ayoubi was unarmed during the time of the killing, which took place in February 2019 on the west side of the city of Indianapolis. An autopsy showed Ayoubi had been shot eight times, including seven times in the back.

Following a "road rage" encounter between the two, Passarrelli followed Ayoubi off the highway to the immigrant’s apartment complex and made Islamophobic remarks, including "Go back to your country," before opening fire, according to witnesses.

In his defense, Passarrelli tried to claim post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to his army service had led to the shooting.

Passarelli did not face any hate crime charges, but the murder coincided with Indiana legislators debating a new hate crime bill, passed weeks later, allowing longer sentences for crimes motivated by "bias."

"Mr. Ayoubi’s family and the entire Hoosier (Indiana) Muslim community have been impacted by the actions and hate the defendant displayed on that day," Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears told local media.

"We cannot eradicate hate in a single step, but the prosecutor’s office will continue to hold individuals accountable should they act hatefully against any member in our community," he added.

After the conviction and sentencing, the victim's sister Zahra Ayoubi wrote on Twitter: "In a world torn by prejudice and fear, He stood tall, his essence clear. A soul so bright, Cut short by hate, in the depths of night. He was more than a victim, he was a flame, He stood and put hate to shame. Justice served!”

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