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March 28 2008 | UNITED STATES


No death sentence for Mumia Abu-Jamal without new hearing

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La decisione della corte federale d'appello di Philadelphia.
L'accusa potrà presentare un nuovo caso, o sarà ergastolo
Annullata condanna a morte per Mumia Abu Jamal
Membro delle Pantere Nere, ex giornalista radio, il detenuto è stato per anni il simbolo delle campagne contro la pena capitale

WASHINGTON - Un tribunale d'appello federale ha annullato oggi la condanna a morte contro Mumia Abu-Jamal. Il detenuto, condannato alla pena capitale nel 1982 per l'uccisione di un poliziotto, è stato per anni un simbolo delle campagne internazionali contro la pena di morte. I suoi sostenitori – da Amnesty International all'arcivescovo Desmond Tutu - sono convinti che abbia subito un processo ingiusto e razzista.
Un passato da giornalista radiofonico, militante delle Black Panthers, Abu Jamal - oggi cinquantatreenne - è nel braccio della morte da 26 anni. La decisione odierna della Corte d'appello di Philadelphia significa che l’accusa dovrà presentare nuovamente il proprio caso davanti ad una giuria per chiedere nuovamente la pena di morte entro 180 giorni, altrimenti la pena per Abu Jamal verrà automaticamente commutata in ergastolo. Secondo il Philadelphia Inquirer, è quasi certo che lo Stato ricorrerà in appello.
La corte ha tuttavia respinto la richiesta di annullare la condanna per omicidio di primo grado presentata da Mumia Abu Jamal, che aveva chiesto di avere un nuovo processo per poter provare la propria innocenza.


Associated Press

PENNSYLVANIA: Court says famed death-row inmate deserves new penalty hearing

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the murder conviction of former Black Panther and celebrity death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, but agreed with a lower court that he cannot be executed without a new penalty hearing.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Abu-Jamal's conviction for murdering a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 should stand, but added that he should get a new sentencing hearing because of flawed jury instructions.
If prosecutors don't want to give him a new death penalty hearing, Abu-Jamal would be sentenced automatically to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, who once was a radio reporter, had appealed his conviction, arguing that racism by the judge and prosecutors corrupted his 1982 conviction at the hands of a mostly white jury. Prosecutors, meanwhile, had appealed a federal judge's 2001 decision to grant Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing because of the allegedly flawed jury instructions.
A Philadelphia jury convicted Abu-Jamal of killing Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, after the patrolman pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in an overnight traffic stop.
The flaw in the jury instructions related to whether jurors understood how to weigh mitigating circumstances that might keep Abu-Jamal off death row.
Under the law, jurors did not have to unanimously agree on a mitigating circumstance.
"The jury instructions and the verdict form created a reasonable likelihood that the jury believed it was precluded from finding a mitigating circumstance that had not been unanimously agreed upon," the appeals court wrote.
Since his trial, Abu-Jamal's name has become a rallying cry for activists of many stripes to take to the streets in both the United States and Europe.
Hundreds of people protested outside the federal building in Philadelphia in May and an overflow crowd
? including legal scholars, students, lawyers, the policeman's widow and Abu-Jamal's brother ? filled the courtroom when the appeals court heard arguments about the case.
The officer's widow, Maureen Faulkner, has kept her husband's memory alive over the years, and recently co-wrote a book about the case. The book, Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice," written with radio talk-show host Michael Smerconish, came out in December.
Few expect the fervor that permeates the case on both sides to die down, even with the appeal court's decision.
"Regardless of the decision, if anything it will heat up the outcry from people in the public," Mumia's lawyer, Robert R. Bryan of San Francisco, said in March. "I think the support from people not only here, but all across Europe will escalate."
Messages left for Bryan on Monday were not immediately returned.

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