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'Race' tapes ruled out

Los Angeles (Reuter) - Judge Lance Ito yesterday rejected a request by the defence in the OJ Simpson murder trial to introduce taped interviews allegedly portraying a key prosecution witness as a racist, but he left open the possibility that the defence could resubmit the motion.

The taped interviews, in which the former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman allegedly uses racial epithets, are crucial to the defence contention that Mr Simpson was the victim of a police conspiracy to frame him in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Judge Ito's order gave fresh examples of racial epithets allegedly used by Mr Fuhrman in the tapes and the alleged instances of police misconduct he described to a screenwriter, Laura Hart McKinny. Quotations attributed to the former detective include: "We've got females . . . and dumb niggers and all your Mexicans that can't even write the name of the car they drive."

Judge Ito, describing the defence motion as "incoherent", said it would "not be further considered by the court in its current form". Defence attorneys said they would resubmit the motion by the end of the court session.

The prosecutor, Marcia Clark, said some slurs attributed to Mr Fuhrman exist only on transcripts, because one of the tapes of his conversations with Ms McKinny had apparently been recorded over. Judge Ito said he had spent several hours trying to find comments the defence says Mr Fuhrman made on the tapes or in transcripts of the interviews, but was unable to do so in many cases.