Mumia case: What Is True Justice?
the December 9th anniversary of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police
officer Daniel Faulkner, emotions are running high here in the Philadelphia
area and beyond. And Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to sit in prison for
the crime, which he maintains that he did not commit.
a U.S. District Court judge upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction but questioned
the original death sentence and ordered resentencing. The case is currently
supporters insist that he is innocent, that he was set up, and that
racial bias and witness coercion had played a big part in an unfair
trial. They also point out that Faulkner was killed with a .44 caliber
gun, while the gun that Abu-Jamal was licensed to carry as a nighttime
taxi driver was a .38 caliber.
On the other
side of the fence, supporters for the prosecution assert that Abu-Jamal
is guilty without a doubt, and many continue to call for his execution.
An eye for an eye. Pay for death with more death.
I don't know
whether Abu-Jamal is guilty or not. But the best way to find out for
certain is to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial. And,
given all the doubts about the fairness of Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial, I
believe that a new trial is not too much to ask. After all, another
life hangs in the balance here.
watchdog Amnesty International agrees. Back in 2000, after an extensive
investigation of the case, the organization issued a report that concluded
International has determined that numerous aspects of this case clearly
failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness
of legal proceedings. Amnesty International therefore believes that
the interests of justice would best be served by the granting of a new
trial to Mumia Abu-Jamal. The trial should fully comply with international
standards of justice and should not allow for the reimposition of the
death penalty. The organization is also recommending that the retrial
take place in a neutral venue, where the case has not polarized the
public as it has in Philadelphia. Finally, the authorities should permit
prominent jurists from outside the USA to observe the proceedings, to
ensure that the retrial complies in all respects with universally-recognized
human rights safeguards."
In the report,
Amnesty International expressed concerns about judicial bias and hostility,
police misconduct, and the apparent withholding of evidence from the
goes out to Officer Faulkner's family. It is always difficult, if not
impossible, to find closure after losing a loved one, especially when
that loved one was the victim of a violent death. But true closure cannot
be gained simply by executing Abu-Jamal. That would be reckless revenge,
As long as
the outstanding questions remain unanswered, there will continue to
be reasonable doubt as to Abu-Jamal's guilt.
As long as
the outstanding questions remain unanswered, there is still a chance
that Faulkner's real killer is still at large.
As long as
the outstanding questions remain unanswered, justice has not been served.
as long as the outstanding questions remain unanswered, true closure
remains an impossible dream.
Shaw is a
Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human
rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator
for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International,
and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines,
and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International
or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:
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