Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Sept. 26, 1996
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Andy McInerney

Faced with important new testimony in Mumia Abu-Jamal's 
favor, on Sept. 4 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered 
that the new evidence must be heard by the Philadelphia 
Common Pleas Court.

In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death 
for killing a police officer after a trial that his 
supporters charge was rigged against him.

In June 1995 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed Abu-
Jamal's death warrant. But after a mass defense campaign 
Abu-Jamal was granted a stay of execution.

His legal team then petitioned for a new trial. Judge 
Albert Sabo--who had presided over Abu-Jamal's original 
trial--refused to grant that request.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now considering Abu-
Jamal's appeals.

The new testimony is a recantation by Veronica Jones. The 
defense had called Jones in the original trial as a witness 
to seeing two men flee the scene of the shooting. But she 
changed her story on the stand and identified Abu-Jamal as 
the shooter.

She now claims, in a sworn deposition, that Philadelphia 
detectives visited her in jail--where she was facing felony 
charges--and "told me that if I would testify against Jamal 
and identify Jamal as the shooter, I wouldn't have to worry 
about my pending felony charges."

That statement confirms defense claims that Philadelphia 
police coerced witnesses to finger Abu-Jamal as the shooter. 
Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther who exposed police 
racism and brutality as a radio journalist.

The Supreme Court ordered that the new testimony be heard 
on Sept. 18 to decide whether it merits a new post-
conviction-relief hearing. However, the testimony will be 
heard by none other than Sabo, known as the "hanging judge" 
for having sentenced more people to death than any other 
judge in the country.

Sabo has made no secret of either his hatred for Abu-Jamal 
or his pro-cop sympathies.

Further, the courts have denied Abu-Jamal's right to be at 
the court when the testimony is presented.

Abu-Jamal's supporters have never expected justice by the 
grace of the courts. They are mobilizing to make a strong 
showing at the Sept. 18 hearing.

Activists are also gearing up for a Dec. 9 mass 
demonstration on Wall Street in New York to mark the 15th 
anniversary of Abu-Jamal's arrest.

                         - END -

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