Unfair trial for journalist

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From Ms Joanne Leedom-

Ackerman

Sir: On 1 August, Pen centres joined writers around the world to protest several aspects of the case against the American journalist Mumia Abu- Jamal who is due to be executed on 17 August for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner ("Death Row stand-off stirs racial tensions", 31 July).

Pen takes no position on Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence. However, we believe that Abu-Jamal may have been denied his internationally recognised right to a fair trial and is calling for a retrial and a rescinding of the death penalty against him.

Our concerns include the fact that Abu-Jamal's court-appointed lawyer was given inadequate funds and time to prepare his case. He did not even have the time to interview the defence witnesses before they took the stand in court.

Moreover, in an apparent attempt to undermine the dictum that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, the court allowed the prosecution to suggest that Abu-Jamal's political views, including his membership over 12 years earlier of the Black Panther movement, reflected a violent disposition towards police officers.

Finally, International Pen believes that the use of the death penalty violates international law.

Yours sincerely,

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

Chair

International Pen

Writers in prison committee

London, EC1

28 July

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