Policemen surrender for trial in King case

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LOS ANGELES - Four white police officers surrendered to federal authorities yesterday to face charges arising from the videotaped beating of a black motorist that provoked an outcry around the world.

Officers Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno and Sergeant Stacey Koon, whose acquittal on 29 April on state charges in the beating provoked riots in Los Angeles, appeared at a brief hearing before US Magistrate George King.

They merely acknowledged their names, said they had seen the indictment and agreed to release on dollars 5,000 ( pounds 2,630) unsecured bail recommended by the authorities. They were ordered to return on Monday.

Federal prosecutors hope to succeed where the state failed and convict the officers in King's beating. Mr Powell, Mr Wind and Mr Briseno are accused of violating Mr King's civil rights by beating him in their role as law officers. Sgt Koon is charged with failing to prevent the assault by officers under his command. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and dollars 250,000 in fines.

In announcing the indictments on Wednesday, the US attorney Lourdes Baird said prosecutors had evaluated the evidence and determined they had a strong case.

'The unanimous conclusion is that the evidence amply supports the charges that are reflected in the indictment,' she said. 'The defendants are charged with stomping, kicking and beating Mr King. It was an unreasonable use of force.'

Ms Baird said prosecutors are not alleging that the beating was racially motivated. Instead, she said the officers are accused of violating King's legal right to be free of unreasonable assault by police.