From Thu Jul 3 04:00:08 2003
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Subject: wwnews Digest #658
Date: Thu, 03 Jul 2003 03:30:04 -0400

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Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2003 23:54:37 -0400
Subject: [WW] Mumia: A Monstrous Denial of Due Process
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Courts still ignore evidence of Mumia’s innocence

By Betsey Piette, Workers World, 10 July 2003

Philadelphia—Mumia Abu-Jamal is a Black journalist who was sentenced to death row on July 3, 1982, after a rigged trial in which he was convicted of shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Although another individual, Arnold Beverly, has confessed to killing Faulkner, Abu-Jamal is beginning his 22nd year on Pennsylvania’s death row, denied the due process that would set him free.

From his isolated prison cell in rural western Pennsylvania, Abu-Jamal continues to report on world events. His reporting style represents a belief that open-minded, curious and dogged research curbs corruption and concentration of social and political power. Read an article or listen to a commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal and it isn’t hard to understand why he has come to be known as the Voice of the Voiceless or why the capitalist state would like to permanently silence him.

In the face of deepening political repression brought on by post-Sept. 11 measures such as the USA Patriot Act and Homeland Security, it’s also not so hard to imagine a state capable of using any means at its disposal to silence its critics, or anyone else deemed dangerous to the system. This year is the 50th anniversary of the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, which took place in a period of political backlash and repression not unlike today’s.

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys and supporters have presented the courts with clear evidence that he did not receive a fair trial or due process as defined by the U.S. Con stitution. They have demonstrated the collusion of his court-appointed attorney after Abu-Jamal was denied his constitutional right to a lawyer of his choice. They have challenged the racism involved in jury selection that denied Abu-Jamal a jury of his peers, another right guaranteed by the Constitution.

The lack of credible ballistics evidence, the fact that prosecution witnesses changed their stories, eyewitness reports of another man fleeing the scene that were never presented to the jury, a racially biased presiding judge, the lack of evidence that Abu-Jamal even fired a gun--all are the sort of gaping holes in the prosecution’s case that in similar situations have resulted in convictions being overturned.

Yet in this case, every effort to make the court adhere to its own rules and regulations, every effort to demand due process as defined by the Constitution, is denied. Why?


On May 4, 2001, Abu-Jamal’s legal team filed an affidavit from Beverly, who confessed to shooting Faulkner and passed a lie detector test to back this up. Beverly said he was hired by organized crime and a division of corrupt cops to kill Faulkner because he was interfering with graft and payoffs made to allow prostitution, gambling and drug dealing in the center-city area of Philadelphia.

When Faulkner was killed in December 1981, the FBI was involved in at least three investigations of police corruption involving extortion and bribery in connection with prostitution, gambling and organized crime in the district where Faulkner worked. Three of the main people targeted in the FBI investigation were James Carlini, head of the homicide department that investigated Faulkner’s death; John Debenedetto, head of the central division where Faulkner worked; and Alphonzo Giordano, who was the senior cop at the scene of Faulkner’s shooting.

These three constituted the chain of command for the investigation into Faulk ner’s murder--at the very time they were under FBI investigation.

In another affidavit, Donald Hersing, a FBI informant in the area Faulkner worked, testified that Alphonzo Giordano, senior officer on the scene at Faulkner’s murder, was one of the main people involved in the corruption. He also stated that Cynthia White, a key prosecution witness at Abu-Jamal’s trial, was one of the people police paid to give false testimony to convict innocent people. In February 1983, Hersing’s testimony played a big part in the conviction of John Debene detto, along with six other police officers, relating to bribery, extortion and involvement in prostitution.

Mumia Abu-Jamal always used his journalism to expose the injustice around him. As a result, he reported heavily on Philadelphia’s rampant police brutality and the city’s attacks on the MOVE organization, of which he was a supporter. He was the subject of an FBI Cointelpro investigation because of his membership in the Black Panther Party--a factor used by the prosecution to push for the death penalty in his case.

Supporters point out that framing Mumia Abu-Jamal for the murder of Officer Faulkner served to silence an activist long targeted by the police. At the same time, it provided police with a means to prevent a real investigation that could have exposed department corruption.

In December 2001, Federal Third Court of Appeals Judge William Yohn overturned the death sentence in Abu-Jamal’s case, while letting the conviction stand. This effectively denied Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a new trial where this evidence could be heard. Each successive attempt to force the courts on both state and federal levels to hear the evidence has been denied.

Meanwhile, Mumia Abu-Jamal remains on death row awaiting appeals of Yohn’s ruling from his attorneys as well as the prosecutors. A ruling in favor of the prosecution could result in a new death warrant from pro- death penalty Gov. Edward Rendell, a former Philadelphia district attorney.

The worldwide movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal must continue the struggle to demand justice and due process in his case.