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After 30 Years of Appeals, Prosecutors Rule Out Execution

Nnpa | 12/13/2011, 12:58 p.m.

"Mumia cannot get any fairness in this court system, so we're calling on the U.S. attorney general [Eric Holder] to do a civil rights investigation into this case, because Mumia's civil rights, from the beginning to the end, and our civil rights as citizens of this United States who have pointed out the evidence very clearly [are threatened]. That, nobody can get around. Mumia is innocent. He is factually innocent," Africa asserted.

"We know with this mountain of evidence that our freedom fighter Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent of the crime, and he has remained behind bars for 30 years simply because of his political stance, which is to free the minds and hearts of Black people," said Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron, a fellow original Black Panther. "We celebrate the fact that he will be off death row, but this has been a long time coming; and now we continue the fight to bring him home and address this heinous injustice."

Abu-Jamal was convicted of fatally shooting Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. A year later he was sentenced to death.

For more than a quarter of a century, his plight has garnered international attention with protest rallies organized from San Francisco to Paris. There's even a street named after him in France.

Celebrities such as Danny Glover, Mike Farrell and Tim Robbins have signed petitions and appeared on panels denouncing the death penalty and calling for a new trial for Abu-Jamal.

Several years ago, there was even a confession from a man who said he was responsible for killing the officer and that Abu-Jamal was innocent. His story corroborated one that Abu-Jamal has maintained since his arrest. He said he witnessed his brother scuffling with a police officer early that morning and ran towards the scene. Subsequently, Abu-Jamal was found wounded by a bullet from Faulkner's gun. Meanwhile, Faulkner was found dead nearby. According to the police, the revolver found near the scene with five spent shells was registered to Abu-Jamal.

In his statement, Tutu pointed out that there are "thousands of other cases in Philadelphia in which the prosecutor, the judge and the police conspired to obtain a conviction." He also brings up the concealed 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 lineup," said the archbishop. "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."

Tutu surmised that the "police investigation that led to Abu-Jamal's conviction was also riddled with corruption and tampering with evidence."

In October, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. It was then left to the prosecution whether they wanted to pursue the death penalty or resort to a life sentence.

Abu-Jamal has not been silent about his predicament and his broadcasts and writings have earned him a wide audience, and the publication of his latest book, "Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. USA" (City Lights), is sure to increase his following threefold. Readers interested in learning more about his life and writings will be vastly rewarded by getting a copy of "We Want Freedom" (South End Press, 2004). In addition, his review of Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" will appear soon in a collection of essays and reviews, "By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X, Real, Not Reinvented," edited by Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga and Haki Madhubuti (Third World Press, 2012).

For more information, visit freemumia.com or call (212) 330-8029.