WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing Tuesday death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, without overturning the guilty verdict of the man who has become a cause celebre for death penalty opponents.
The court in Pennsylvania ruled that Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther who has languished on death row for nearly 30 years, must have a new sentencing hearing within the next six months.
The 57-year-old African American was sentenced to death in 1982 after being found guilty in the murder of a white policeman — a crime he has always denied committing.
The same court that issued Tuesday’s ruling suspended Abu-Jamal’s death penalty sentence in 2008, leading to three years of court challenges that including an intervention by the US Supreme Court.
The Pennsylvania appeals court set aside Abu-Jamal’s death sentence over procedural irregularities during his trial, finding that the jury mistakenly had been led to believe that it could not consider mitigating factors against a death sentence.
Abu-Jamal and his supporters claim that the guilty verdict against him was predetermined because he was an African-American and a member of the radical leftist Black Panthers movement.
A writer and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists at the time of his arrest, he has continued to write from death row.
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.