Sunday, December 9, 2007

Policeman's widow seeks execution of Abu Jamal

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - More than a quarter century after the murder of her policeman husband, Maureen Faulkner wants the man convicted of the crime executed.


"If he is put to death, I would be able to have a normal life," said the widow, whose husband, Daniel Faulkner, was killed on December 9, 1981.

Mumia Abu Jamal, a black former radio journalist and taxi driver, has been on death row in a Pennsylvania prison since his 1982 conviction of killing Faulkner, who was white.

Abu Jamal says he's innocent, and his supporters have turned him into an international cause celebre for the anti-death penalty movement.

But the years of legal wrangling have failed either to exonerate him or bring closure to Faulkner's widow. She has written a book, "Murdered by Mumia," to make her case.

"I want to live a normal life and I have not been able to for the last 26 years," Faulkner said in an interview.

"That's why I wrote this book, so people can read the truth of what happened when my husband was murdered," she said.

Abu Jamal's supporters say he deserves a new trial on the grounds that his first trial was tainted by too few blacks on the jury and by a judge, the late Albert Sabo, who was heard by a court reporter to say, "Yeah, and I'm going to help 'em fry the nigger."

Faulkner, 51, said she is tormented by the high media profile of Abu Jamal, who writes and broadcasts from his prison cell, and what she says is abusive, threatening behavior of his supporters toward her.

"I have been vilified, spit upon, cursed at, chased down the street, screamed at," Faulkner said. "They held their fingers like they were shooting me, like there was a gun."

Abu Jamal's lawyers are seeking a new trial on grounds his first was tainted by racism. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia could rule on the request at any time.

Faulkner said Abu Jamal's supporters, who include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the European Parliament and Amnesty International, have been deceived into believing he deserves a new trial.

"Tell a lie, tell it big enough, tell it often enough, and it becomes truth," she said, citing a quote attributed to Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels.

Faulkner called for the U.S. justice system to be streamlined to trim the number of appeals available.

"If someone is convicted of murder, and a jury of 12 find him guilty, and put him on death row and the post-conviction relief act hearings -- have all shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mumia Abu Jamal murdered my husband, I think that justice should be carried out," Faulkner said.

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)


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