Friday, December 09, 2011

Mumia - Death sentence dropped, Tutu calls for release

"Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death
row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating
him to prison for the rest of his life?yet another form of death
sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international
human rights standards, Mumia must now be released. I therefore
join the call, and ask others to follow, asking District
Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of
reconciliation, human rights, and justice: drop this case now,
and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be immediately released, with full
time served." Desmond Tutu

The news that the DA's Office of Philadelphia is no longer
seeking the death penalty for Mumia is no news to supporters of
the nearly 30 year Pennsylvania Death Row prisoner. However,
because Mumia has for thirty years been subjected to torture on
death row and because he is innocent, justice for Mumia will not
be served by life imprisonment, but by his release from prison.

Mumia's case is like thousands of other cases in Philadelphia in
which the prosecutor, the judge, and the police conspired to
obtain a conviction. One of the most important and least known
facts of this case is the existence of a fourth person at the
crime scene, Kenneth Freeman. Within hours of the shooting, a
driver's license application found in Officer Faulkner's shirt
pocket led the police to Freeman, who was identified as the
shooter in a line-up. Yet Freeman's presence at the scene was
concealed, first by Inspector Alfonso Giordano and later, at
trial, by Prosecutor Joe McGill. Recently, the U.S. Department
of Justice asserted that withholding evidence of innocence by
the prosecutor warrants the overturning of a conviction.

The police investigation that led to Mumia's conviction was also
riddled with corruption and tampering with evidence. The
recently discovered Polokoff photographs that were taken at the
crime scene, reveal that officer James Forbes, who testified in
court that he had properly handled the guns allegedly retrieved
at the crime scene, appears holding the guns with his bare hands.
The photos also discredit cabdriver Robert Chobert as a witness
; his taxi, contrary to his testimony, is pictured facing away
from the fallen officer's car. This evidence hasn't been
reviewed by any court.

Our call to Seth Williams is that he honor DA Lynn Abraham's 1995
promise to the city of Philadelphia that she would discard any
cases where evidence surfaces that even one of the officers
involved in an investigation lied in court or in written reports.

The D.A. may think that the case can be laid to rest by sending
Mumia off to life in prison. But an aroused public, with the
Supreme Court ruling the death sentence to be unconstitutional,
is ready to challenge anew the entire trial. The same judge,
jury, and DA that were involved in the unlawful sentencing
process committed equally egregious violations in the conviction
. This is not an ending, it is a new beginning for the movement
supporting Abu-Jamal's quest for release.

The December 9 forum at the National Constitutional Center,
featuring Prof. Cornel West, will be preceded by an 11:30 a.m.
Press Conference, at the American Friends Service Committee
building, 1501 Cherry Street. Then the following day there will
be a full-day of organizing and fundraising activities, Saturday
December 10, at the Germantown Event Center, 5245 Germantown
Avenue, beginning at 12 Noon.

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