A US federal grand jury in Seattle indicted a man from Washington on charges of hate crime against a 50-year-old Sikh.
Jamie Larson, 49, has been charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was enacted in October 2009, the Department of Justice said in a statement yesterday.
Larson faces a maximum of 10 years in jail if convicted.
The single-page indictment does not provide details of the attack. It alleges that on October 17, 2012, Larson assaulted the victim, identified as K.H., in Federal Way based upon the victim's actual and perceived race, colour and national origin.
However, state charges that were initially filed in the incident said Larson attacked his Sikh cab driver, beating him savagely and using racially charged language. The complaint says Larson pulled part of the man's beard out, which was found by police on the ground, local media reported.
The defendant was arrested at the scene of the attack after a witness called 911.
The Shepard-Byrd law criminalises acts of physical violence causing bodily injury motivated by any person's actual or perceived race, colour, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
"Attacks such as this one, based on prejudice and racial hate, are contrary to who we are and violate the law," said US Attorney Jenny A Durkan. "Protecting the civil rights of all the members of our community is a top priority for our office," he said.
California-headquartered North American Punjabi Association expressed its satisfaction on Larson's indictment, saying "these kinds of racial attacks are a slam of glorious history of our country."