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Seattle nightclub arsonist sentenced to 10 years in federal prison

Thursday, July 31, 2014
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SEATTLE — A man who set fire to a crowded Seattle nightclub on New Year’s Eve has been sentenced to 10 years in prison — twice what prosecutors had requested.

Musab Masmari

Musab Masmari

No one was injured when 31-year-old Musab Mohammed Masmari ignited gasoline in a stairwell at Neighbors, a gay nightclub where more than 700 people were celebrating the holiday.

Masmari was arrested a month later as he prepared to leave the country. He apologized in a statement to the court and said he doesn’t remember his actions because he blacked out after drinking a bottle of cheap whiskey.

But prosecutors said Masmari’s motivation for the arson was homophobia, reported Seattle PI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg told the court that evidence suggests Masmari was motivated by an “intolerable hate.”

“One of Masmari’s close associates was interviewed by investigators and reported that Masmari confided in him that he ‘burned a gay club’ and that he did it because ‘what these people are doing is wrong,’” Greenberg said in court papers.

Greenberg said another person close to Masmari said he had a “general hostility towards homosexuality.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than five years after Masmari pleaded guilty to arson in U.S. District Court.

Judge Ricardo Martinez said that while Masmari’s intentions could not be proven as a hate crime, “common sense tells us exactly what was on Mr. Masmari’s mind when he set that fire.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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