Statements from Mobilization4Mumia in Philladelphia USA on the occation of the anniversary of his arrest 35 years ago and his birthday
Today, April 24, 2017, Mumia’s Abu-Jamal’s 63rd birthday, there is a court hearing on his PCRA (Post-Conviction Relief Act) petition in the Pennsylvania courts. This is a new legal action to overturn State Supreme Court decisions from 1995-2008 that denied him freedom despite his innocence. Mumia’s appeals asserted the police and prosecution manufactured the proof of his guilt and suppressed evidence of his innocence. Abu-Jamal was scheduled for execution in 1995 and 1999 but was saved by mass international protests. In 2012 he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
This new legal action can open the door to Abu-Jamal’s freedom, overturning the denials of his appeals. A dozen other men who were prosecuted by Castille and then denied appeals, will also be heard in court. We need to show the courts of injustice that Mumia and other prisoners should not spend another day on “slow death row.” All of these unjustly-incarcerated men should be immediately released from prison!
Mumia’s new legal challenge to his conviction is based on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Williams case, which ruled that an appellate judge cannot participate in a case in which he formerly had a personal role in a significant prosecutorial decision. The Supreme Court held, for the first time, that this is a conflict of interest that undermines due process, requiring dismissal of the appeals the judge participated in.
The judge in the Williams case was Ronald Castille, who was the elected District Attorney responsible for opposing Mumia’s 1989 appeal of his trial conviction and death sentence. In 1994 Castille was elected to PA Supreme Court, after bragging that 45 men (including Abu-Jamal) were sentenced to death by his DA’s office and that he was financed by and had been honored as “Man of the Year” by the FOP.
As a PA Supreme Court justice, Castille ruled against Mumia in every appeal that exposed the racial bias of the prosecutor and the trial judge and that his conviction was a blatant frame-up won through coerced witnesses, fabricated confessions and phony ballistics. Evidence of the actual shooter of police officer Daniel Faulkner was suppressed. Castille also denied motions filed in 1996 and 2002 demanding he recuse (remove) himself as a judge in Mumia’s case, because the former DA was the prosecutor in Abu-Jamal’s appeal and because of his pro-cop bias. By denying every one of Abu-Jamal’s legal claims, Castille and the rest of the PA Supreme Court deprived him of the right to a fair trial.
For the past two years, a political and legal struggle has been waged to get Mumia treatment for hepatitis C. Just two weeks ago, the Department of Corrections (DOC) was compelled to provide Mumia with the new medication that cures hep-C. The legal decision requiring the DOC to give Mumia the medication means all PA prisoners who have hepatitis C may get treatment. This action has stopped the DOC from killing Mumia by medical malfeasance. But ultimately, we are fighting for Mumia’s freedom.
Coard: Why is the D.A. still trying to kill Mumia?
Mumia Abu-Jamal was transferred to general population in 2012 after having spent 31 years on death row and in solitary confinement for a crime he didn’t commit. But the D.A.’s Office still wanted him dead by lethal injection despite favorable defense rulings in his case in 2001 by the U.S. District Court, in 2008 by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and in 2011 by the Supreme Court.
Although the prosecutors won’t get their wish in terms of death by lethal injection, they’re trying to get it by old age. In other words, they want to keep Mumia in prison until he dies alone in a cage as a decrepit elderly man. But we ain’t having that. And by “we,” I mean the attorneys who will be raising issues in court on April 24 and the activists who will be raising hell in the streets on that date. More about that later.
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