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Wrongfully accused Polish immigrants go on trial Tuesday for murder

Polish immigrants Christopher Zara, Voitek Demski, Tomasz Herdus and Artur Ozark go on trial tomorrow at the Cook County Courthouse for murder -- a crime they did not commit. The cops only evidence? A confession in English, a language none of the four speaks.
Police Frame-Ups Continue at Area 5, with immigrants, people of color bearing brunt of burden. Wrongfully accused Polish immigrants go on trial Tuesday for murder.

Tuesday, February 13th, 9:00 am
Room 600, Cook County Courthouse
26th and California, Chicago
Press contact: Ruth Pena (773)772-7095
Comite Exijemos Justicia (We Demand Justice Committee)

Polish immigrants Christopher Zara, Voitek Demski, Tomasz Herdus and Artur Ozark go on trial tomorrow at the Cook County Courthouse for murder -- a crime they did not commit. The only evidence against them is a confession in English, a language none of the four speaks. All four say they were coerced and tricked into signing confessions they could not read.

The suppliers of this so-called evidence are Detectives Guevara and Halvorsen from Area 5 of the Chicago police department. These same detectives have also been identified as having framed numerous Humboldt Park residents in recent years. Guevara himself was accused of witness coercion in the case of People vs. Xavier Arcos in 1996. The court found evidence supporting Arcos’ claim so credible it reversed his murder conviction, the strongest step a court can take to refute police and prosecutorial actions.

Representives from Comite Exijimos Justicia (We Demand Justice Committee) will be present as observers at the Polish immigrants' trial, and hope to use their wrongful prosecution as an opportunity to highlight the pattern of police abuse and corruption within the walls of Area 5 Police headquarters.

Community residents charge that many Humboldt Park youth and adults have been wrongfully convicted of murders with no physical evidence ever linking them to the crimes – and that a great many of them have been implicated by Detectives Guevarra and Halvorsen. These frame-ups were the subject of an investigative report by The Chicago Reporter in June of 2000.

Area 5 is the same police station where Officer Miedzianowski worked. Miedzianowski is currently on trial for running a Miami-to-Chicago drug ring and for a variety of other offenses, including cooking evidence in criminal cases. Area 5 is also the home of police officers who, during the recent past, were accused of shaking down Polish immigrants and stealing from local convenience stores.

"Area 5 is a den of corruption and needs to be thoroughly investigated," states Ruth Pena of Comite Exijimos Justicia. "This latest example of Guevarra and Halvorsen framing these four Polish men is just the tip of the iceberg."
 
 

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