Men charged in New Zealand Jewish cemetery vandalism

Three men were charged in a New Zealand court with damaging more than 20 Jewish gravestones at a historic cemetery in Auckland.

The suspects, ages 19 to 23, were charged Oct. 23 in Auckland District Court with willful damage of the graves, some of which date back to the 1880s. Their bail was conditioned on not associating with each other or visiting a Jewish cemetery, synagogue or school. They were ordered to reappear in court next month.

The vandalism last week included spray-painting swastikas and the number 88, code for “Heil Hitler,” as well as graffiti including “F– Israel.” The charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

Approximately 7,000 Jews live in New Zealand, the majority of them in Auckland. — jta