WASHINGTON - A US man was sentenced on Monday to nine years in prison for setting fire to a predominantly black church the day after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the Justice Department said.

Benjamin Haskell, 24, earlier this year pleaded guilty to 'conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate the mostly African-American parishioners of the Macedonia Church' in the north-eastern state of Massachusetts, officials said.

The church was still under construction but was already being used by worshippers around the time of the arson attack in the early hours of Nov 5, 2008. Nobody was injured in the blaze. The building was 75 per cent complete at the time of the fire, which destroyed nearly the entire structure, officials said.

As part of his punishment Haskell - who will also serve three years of supervised release - must pay a US$7,500 (S$9,689) fine and more than US$1 million in restitution, including more than US$240,000 to the Macedonia Church, officials said.

'Haskell confessed to the crime and admitted that prior to the presidential election, he and his co-conspirators used racial slurs against African-Americans and expressed anger at the possible election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President,' said the Justice Department.

He also admitted that after Mr Obama was declared the election winner, he and co-conspirators 'walked through the woods behind the Macedonia Church to scout out burning it down', which they did hours later, officials said.

US man jailed for church arson