January 22, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Supreme Court decision could bring forward execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Supreme Court on 19 January sent back to a Philadelphia appeal court the case of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, aged 55, a one-time Black Panther, sentenced to death in dubious circumstances in 1982. The country’s court of highest jurisdiction ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to revisit its March 2008 ruling that a new jury should decide on the penalty handed down to the radio journalist. It said the review should be made “in the light” of one of its recent rulings in another capital case (Sispak/Ohio). Now the court must again decide whether Abu-Jamal will live or die. The Supreme Court previously - in October 2008 and in April 2009 - rejected calls for a new trial from Abu-Jamal’s lawyer, Robert R. Bryan, on the basis of racism in jury selection, judicial bias, and prosecutorial fraud. The 19 January ruling unfortunately gives weight to Bryan’s claim that his client is being hounded. The Supreme Court is at the same time making the appeal court responsible for ordering the journalist’s execution. It is already very serious that Mumia Abu-Jamal suffered an unfair trial that left real doubt about his guilt at the time of his conviction. Now the fact that he cannot possibly escape from his condition as a man under sentence of death amounts to a terrible setback for justice. The death penalty is in itself unworthy of a constitutional state. Sign the petition: Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther militant who became a radio journalist in the 1970s, was sentenced to death for the murder in Philadelphia of a police officer, Daniel Faulkner, on 9 December 1981. Before his arrest he had been known as the “voice of the voiceless”, as a result of his articles condemning government abuses and corruption. Abu-Jamal wrote an article for Reporters Without Borders "Journalism in Hell" in which he described his experience behind bars. We commit ourselves to allowing him to speak on our website. “If he was not black they would not be trying to kill him as vigorously as is occurring today. If Mumia was not a journalist, perhaps even more so, there would not be so much passion against him”, Robert R. Bryan said in an interview with our organisation. For further information and to offer support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, contact: Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan 2088 Union Street, Suite 4, San Francisco, CA 94123-4117 (Photo : AFP)