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Arrest warrant still outstanding for Ottawa resident charged with assault

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Yosef Steynovitz (YouTube)

A U.S. arrest warrant remains outstanding for an Ottawa resident charged with assault at last year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C.

Meantime, the trial of Yosef Steynovitz, a Thornhill man charged in the same attack, has been scheduled for early next year.

Brandon Vaughan failed to appear in a District of Columbia court on July 31 to face charges of felony assault and hate crime.

Neither did he show up for his arraignment on May 1, so the bench warrant for his arrest issued at the time remains in effect, said William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Vaughan and Steynovitz are charged in the beating of Kamal Nayfeh, a 55-year-old Palestinian-American college teacher from North Carolina who was reportedly walking near the AIPAC conference with his daughter when the attack took place in March 2017.

Vaughan, 23, is charged with one count of assault “with significant bodily injury while armed.” The charge carries a “bias-related” or hate crime enhancement that permits the court to increase the penalty if he’s convicted.

Steynovitz has pleaded not guilty to three assault-related charges stemming from the brawl. He too is charged with felony assault with significant bodily injury while armed in the beating of Nayfeh, for which he also faces a hate crimes enhancement.

A third man charged in Nayfeh’s beating, Rami Lubranicki, 59, of Howell, N.J., pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault. His sentencing is scheduled for September 12.

Steynovitz’s trial has been scheduled for Feb. 21, 2019, Miller told The CJN. Before that, he’ll face a “status conference” and a “trial readiness” hearing.

Vaughan has been described as a prominent member of the Ottawa Proud Boys, a right-wing group that describes itself as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”

On social media earlier this year, he also voiced support for such far-right groups as La Meute, the Northern Guard, and the Jewish Defence League.

Steynovitz was a member of the Jewish Defence League of Canada at the time of the assault.

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Widely circulated videos of the attack show Nayfeh being beaten with fists, kicked and beaten with a flagpole. The video showed flagpoles flying the U.S., Israeli and JDL banners, and several demonstrators are shown wearing jackets with the words “Never Again” – a JDL slogan – on the back.

Nayfeh was taken to hospital, where he received several stitches around his eye and was treated for cuts and bruises.

The assault charges relating to Nayfeh against Vaughan and Steynovitz carry a maximum prison term of 30 years and/or a $75,000 fine. If a hate bias is established, the penalty would increase to 45 years and/or a fine of $112,500.

Canada’s Extradition Act says a person may be extradited from this country if his or her conduct, had it occurred in Canada, “would have constituted an offence that is punishable in Canada,” and where the crime in the partner country is punishable by a prison term of two years or more or, in some cases, five years or more.