Reporters Without Borders is asking the Federal Appeals Court in Philadelphia to consider granting journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal a new penalty case in the wake of a review by the court last Tuesday, on instructions from the Supreme Court. The Court heard arguments on a legal technicality in the death sentence imposed on Mumia in 1982 for the murder of a police officer Daniel Faulkner.
“The step taken by the federal court was already encouraging. We now ask the judges to consider a new sentencing hearing and to respect the rule of law in the ‘world’s leading democracy'”, the organization said.”The world is watching. We are still convinced that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not have a fair trial.”
Abu-Jamal’s lawyer Judith Ritter, was pleased with the outcome of the hearing “The law is very strongly on our side,” Ritter said. Lydia Barashango, Abu-Jamal’s sister, who also attended the hearing, told Reporters Without Borders, “I am not impressed. But it can make a big difference if they rule right. It can mean life for Mumia. I hope it does not come out that he will live in prison for life, but he will live.”
Abu-Jamal, journalist, former president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and a one-time Black Panther, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia on December 9, 1981. As a reporter, Abu-Jamal became known as “the Voice of the Voiceless.” At the time of his conviction, he was driving a cab, and been dismissed by area radio stations for attempting to broadcast statements issued by the MOVE organization.
In 2008, a federal appeals court ruled in Abu-Jamal’s favor saying that the jury instructions given at his trial back in 1982 were flawed. The decision nullified Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and granted him a new sentencing hearing.
However, the Supreme Court this year upheld a death sentence in an Ohio case with similar jury issues, and ordered the Philadelphia court to revisit Abu-Jamal’s ruling. According to Judith Ritter, who argued the case on Nov. 9. ” The two cases are very different”. She also told the panel of three judges regarding the death sentence: “I don’t see how this case is related to my client.”
Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, strongly supports the international petition submitted by defenders of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has already spent half of his life on death row.