Ex Ku Klux Klan member jailed for life for 1964 murders

A former member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in jail for his role in the killing of two young black civil rights activists more than 40 years ago.

Ex Ku Klux Klan member jailed for life for 1964 murders

A US federal judge in Jackson, Mississippi sentenced former policeman James Seale, 72, to three life terms.

In June, a jury had determined that Seale, and other former members of the white supremacist KKK conspired to abduct, interrogate, beat and eventually murder Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charlie Eddie Moore, both 19 years old at the time of their 1964 murders.

The trial was one of several cases of racist murders from the 1960s that have been reopened in recent years.

"This case is an outstanding example of our ongoing, vigilant efforts to prosecute racially-motivated crimes to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of how many years have passed," US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said in a statement.

Prosecutor Dunn Lampton said the sentence demonstrates Mississippi "no longer tolerates those kinds of past wrongs without redress." The state is in the heart of the so-called "deep South" that was long associated with lynchings and other violent attacks on blacks often led by the KKK.

Seale, 72, who has been in jail since his January arrest, did not testify during his trial.

Charles Marcus Edward, another former KKK member who admitted being involved in the attack, was a key witness and received immunity for his testimony.

The indictment described how Seale and others beat the teenagers to make them confess to weapons smuggling, then lashed them to an engine and a piece of rail and threw them into the Mississippi river.

The bodies were discovered months later during a search for three other civil rights activists who had disappeared in the area and whose story was later depicted in the "Mississippi Burning" movie.

Seale was arrested in 1964, but was released as police said they lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute him.

During the trial, a former FBI agent recounted how Seale had taunted investigators at the time.

"We know you did it, you know you did it, the Lord above knows you did it," agent Lenard Wolf told Seale, who, according to the testimony, answered: "Yes, but I'm not going to admit it; you are going to have to prove it."

The case was reopened in 2005 following years of lobbying by the brother of one of the victims.

Seale was believed dead for years until Thomas Moore, 63, tracked him down in southern Mississippi while investigating his brother's murder.

Seale was charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy.

While Seale was not charged with murder, the indictment claimed the kidnappings resulted in the deaths of Dee and Moore.

"While this sentence can never repair the suffering and loss brought by these heinous acts of racial violence, it will hopefully bring some closure to the families of Henry Dee and Charlie Moore who have waited decades for justice," said Wan Kim, US Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

AFP

Last Mod: 25 Ağustos 2007, 15:48
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