News

November 10, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Reporters Without Borders is asking for a new sentencing hearing in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case


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 yesterday's review by the court, 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 in Philadelphia. “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, president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and a onetime Black Panther activist, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia on 9 December, 1981. As a reporter, Abu Jamal became known as “the Voice of the Voiceless”. At the time of his conviction, he was working for WDAS, an African-American radio station. 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 (http://www.fox8.com/news/wjw-spisak-goes-to-supreme-court-txt,0,6413767....) with similar jury issues, and ordered the Philadelphia court to revisit Abu-Jamal’s ruling. According to Judith Ritter, who argued the case on November 9th “ 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 support the international petition submitted by defenders of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has already spent half of his life on death row. More information and background on Abu-Jamal's Case Website link to the petition (available in six languages): http://mumialegal.org/node/72