LONDON (AP) — A white supremacist Ukrainian student who murdered an elderly Muslim man and plotted a terrorist bombing campaign against mosques in central England has been sentenced to at least 40 years in prison.
Pavlo Lapshyn pleaded guilty earlier this week to stabbing Mohammed Saleem to death as the 82-year-old walked home from a mosque in the city of Birmingham in April. Lapshyn also admitted leaving home-made bombs outside three mosques near Birmingham in June and July — the first hidden in a child's lunchbox and the third timed to coincide with Friday prayers. They exploded, but no one was injured.
Police said 25-year-old Lapshyn, who was in Britain on a part-time job related to his studies, was motivated by racism and a desire to stir up racial tension. He had started researching where to buy chemicals in Britain even before he arrived in the country from Ukraine. When British police searched his room, they found 98 video files and more than 400 photo files showing chemicals, firearms, bomb-making components and images of Lapshyn manufacturing and detonating explosive devices in what appears to be the Ukraine.
In sentencing Friday, Judge Nigel Sweeney told Lapshyn his "views, hatred and motivations have no place whatsoever in our multifaith and multicultural society." Home Secretary Theresa May welcomed the lengthy sentence for Lapshyn.
"Terrorists, no matter what their ideology or the form their acts of terror take, are criminals and will be dealt with as such," she said. Saleem's son-in law, Hanif Khan, said that people like Lapshyn "have no place in society."
"We've got 40 years but we've lost a beloved person," he said of the sentence. "It's hard to come to terms with."
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