Trial begins for man accused of setting fire to Texas mosque

VICTORIA, Texas — A federal prosecutor says a "rabid hatred" of Muslims led a 26-year-old man to set fire to a Southeast Texas mosque.

Prosecutor Sharad Khandelwal made the claim Monday during opening statements in the trial of Marq Vincent Perez.

Perez is charged with a hate crime and also with use of a fire to commit a federal felony in the January 2017 fire that destroyed an Islamic center in Victoria.

A federal law enforcement officer testified earlier that an informant said Perez believed the center's worshippers were terrorists.

Authorities last year also charged Perez with possession of an unregistered destructive device in an indictment unrelated to the mosque fire.

If convicted of the hate crime charge, the most serious count, Perez could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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