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Mumia Abu-Jamal's New Trial Rejected

PHILADELPHIA -- (AP) A judge on Wednesday rejected a plea for a new trial
from Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and journalist sentenced
to death for killing a police officer in 1981.

Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe said she does not have jurisdiction over
Abu-Jamal's petition for a new trial, scuttling his hopes for another
round of state-court appeals.

Abu-Jamal argued that his former lawyers did a poor job and that he has
new evidence that could clear him.

Still pending is his federal appeal in the slaying of Officer Daniel
Faulkner, 25, who was killed after he pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in
a downtown traffic stop.

Celebrities, death-penalty opponents and foreign politicians have
rallied to Abu-Jamal's cause, calling him a political prisoner and
saying he was railroaded by a racist justice system.

"The only thing that (the judge) has done is expose the conspiracy by
this government to commit cold-blooded, premeditated murder," said
Philadelphia activist Pam Africa.

Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns praised Dembe's decision, but
said other Abu-Jamal appeals will keep the case tied up in court.

"It never ends," Burns said.

Abu-Jamal exhausted his state appeals two years ago, but a petition
filed in September argued his lawyers have new evidence to clear him,
including a confession by a man named Arnold Beverly.

In a 1999 affidavit, Beverly claimed he was hired by the mob to kill
Faulkner because the officer had interfered with mob payoffs to police.

Abu-Jamal's former lawyers, Leonard Weinglass and Daniel R. Williams,
said they thought the confession was not credible and a federal judge
refused to order Beverly to testify on Abu-Jamal's behalf.

Abu-Jamal argued he should be entitled to another state appeal because
the attorneys denied him the right to effective counsel.