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F.L.O.C. President Velasquez on Mumia Ruling

Statement by Baldemar Velasquez, President of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee/FLOC/AFL-CIO, on Dec. 18 District Judge William Yohn's Ruling on Mumia Abu-Jamal
Statement by Baldemar Velasquez on Dec. 18 District Judge William Yohn's Ruling on Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Note: The following statement was issued Dec. 19, 2001, by Baldemar Velasquez, President of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee/FLOC/AFL-CIO and Convener of the International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal.]

Toledo, Ohio (December 19, 2001) -- On December 18, District Court Judge William Yohn issued his long-awaited decision in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Yohn upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction, rejecting all 32 points included in the appeal -- all of which demonstrated conclusively that Abu-Jamal was framed and that his constitutional right to a fair trial was violated outrageously. This represents a flagrant travesty of justice.

At the same time, however, Yohn threw out Abu-Jamal's death-penalty sentence, ordering the State of Pennsylvania to conduct a new sentencing hearing within 180 days. If the State of Pennsylvania does not act on this request within these 180 days, Abu-Jamal, as per Yohn's decision, will be sentenced automatically to life in prison -- even though he is an innocent man. In Pennsylvania, there is no parole for life-imprisonment sentences.

The decision to strike down the death-penalty sentence represents a major concession to the international movement that has taken to the streets to demand freedom for Abu-Jamal. We are proud to have contributed to building this broad-based movement with our international campaign directed at then-Attorney General Janet Reno, including the two delegations of leading unionists and elected officials from around the world to the U.S. Justice Department in January and December 2000.

But we are deeply concerned that Judge Yohn's decision does not rule out the death-penalty sentence altogether. Within the next 180 days, according to our reading of the decision, the State of Pennsylvania, which has appealed Yohn's ruling, could re-issue the death penalty sentence.

The death-penalty sentence, which Yohn struck down, must not be reinstated. If anything, Abu-Jamal should be allowed to go free, having already served 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Judge Yohn's affirmation of Abu-Jamal's conviction should be appealed and reversed. All the evidence produced by Abu-Jamal's attorneys, including the confession of Arnold Beverly, should be heard. The conviction should be overturned and Abu-Jamal's innocence proclaimed, even if a new trial is required to do this.

The International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal, which has mobilized in more than 60 countries worldwide to demand freedom for Mumia, will continue its efforts -- now, more than ever -- to win freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.



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