Britons charged with Crete synagogue arson

By Jessica Elgot, January 22, 2010
The synagogue in Hania before it was attacked

The synagogue in Hania before it was attacked

Two British men have been in court charged in connection with the arson attacks on a Crete synagogue.

The men, who have not yet been named, are aged 23 and 33. They are believed to be nightclub bartenders in Hania, the town where the synagogue was attacked.

They are charged alongside a Greek man. Two more men, believed to be American citizens, are wanted by police in connection with the two separate arson attacks on the synagogue.

The second attack, last Saturday, burnt the roof of the synagogue and destroyed office equipment and the shul’s archive of 1,600 rare books and manuscripts.

A bottle with a flammable liquid still burning was found at the scene by firefighters.

Police also found a bar of soap thrown at the synagogue wall. Synagogue director Nikos Stavroulakis said this was a common antisemitic taunt in Greece, based on the myth that Nazis made bars of soap out of Jewish corpses.

Police said that the Greek man had confessed to the crime, and his statement had led to the arrest of the British men.

The 33-year-old British man is accused of being the perpetrator of the attack. He denies the charges.

The Greek man and the younger Briton are alleged to have kept watch on the synagogue while it was attacked.

Israel has filed an official complaint to Greece over the targeting of the synagogue.

The Greek Ambassador to Israel, Kyriakos Loukakis, strongly condemned the incident and said his country would do everything it could to bring the arsonists to justice.

Last updated: 3:28pm, January 22 2010