Democracy Now! Ju;y 03, 2002

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Democracy Now! Ju;y 03, 2002
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Was Officer Charles Schwarz in the bathroom when Justin Volpe assaulted Abner Louima? Today we replay excerpts of an exclusive interview with an anonymous juror in the original Abner Louima conspiracy trial as the defense prepares to rest its case in the re-trial of Charles Schwarz. And from ground zero to ground zero: as the Pentagon struggles to contain reports that a US gunship attacked an Afghan wedding party, killing and wounding scores of guests, we'll go back to another US attack on an Afghan family. We'll travel with Masuda Sultan back to Afghanistan, where she tried to find out why US soldiers bombed her family, killing 19 of her relatives. All that and more coming up. 9:01-9:06 Headlines: 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20 AS THE DEFENSE PREPARES TO REST ITS CASE IN THE RE-TRIAL OF CHARLES SCHWARZ, WE REPLAY EXCERPTS OF AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AN ANONYMOUS JUROR IN THE ORIGINAL ABNER LOUIMA CONSPIRACY TRIAL. THE JUROR SAYS SCHWARZ COMMITTED THE CRIME. The defense is expected to rest its case today in the re-trial of Charles Schwarz, the white police officer charged with complicity in the torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. But Schwarz may not take the witness stand, though anything could happen The former cop was the last witness at his trial in 2000 before a jury convicted him of obstructing a grand jury investigation into the attack. A federal appeals court reversed that verdict in February. Schwarz is facing two civil rights charges for assisting officer Justin Volpe in assaulting Louima in a stationhouse bathroom. He also faces two perjury charges in connection with his testimony in his 2000 trial. Meanwhile, another key witness failed to appear on the witness stand yesterday. Schwarz's partner, Thomas Wiese, apparently changed his mind about testifying, informing defense lawyers at the last minute that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Wiese had been expected to vindicate Schwarz by testifying that he himself, and not Schwarz, was in the stationhouse bathroom when Justin Volpe assaulted Louima. That left only Volpe vindicating Schwarz, claining he was not the second cop in the bathroom during the attack. But Volpe's credibility was shattered on Monday when Brooklyn prosecutor Alan Vinegrad produced a stunning tape of Volpe lashing out at Schwarz, ranting he wanted his 30-year sentence reduced in exchange for testifying. The tape was recorded during a phone conversation between Volpe and his father. Both knew the conversation was being recorded. Here's what Volpe said: "That other ---- guy is going home and I'm going to be rotting in ---- prison They better get ready to do some strategizing and get me some reduction I'm in a ---- empty room while that ---- is at home I gotta talk to my ----lawyers I want to talk to them alone if you read between the lines, I want to talk to them alone I committed suicide If they think I'm falling on my sword again for nothing they're out of their ---- minds." Well, we are going to turn now to excerpts of another eye-opening Recording. It is part of an exclusive interview Democracy Now! conducted several months ago with a juror in the original Abner Louima conspiracy case. It is the only time a juror has been interviewed on the record since a federal appeals court overturned the convictions of three of the four white officers charged in the case. The officers Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder had all been found guilty of conspiring to cover up the violent assault on Louima. Schwarz had also been convicted in an earlier ruling of participating in that assault. This too was overtuned in the February ruling. The juror described the overturning of the obstruction of justice charge as "totally absurd" and maintained the three police officers were guilty of a carefully plotted cover-up. He also argued that Schwarz was guilty of holding Louima down in the precinct bathroom while Volpe assaulted him with a broken broomstick. In the interview, the juror says he originally believed Schwarz was innocent of the conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation. But, as the jury deliberated, he ultimately became convinced of Schwarz's guilt. The juror refused to be identified, for fear of reprisal from supporters of Charles Schwarz. He said: "There's been a mini-movement built around 'free Schwarz.' I've looked at their website and I know about some of the people involved. Some of them are well-meaning, law-abiding people who were just fooled. And others are unsavory characters and I don't want to deal with them." We turn now to the beginning of the interview, where the juror lays out the charges in the Abner Louima conspiracy trial. Guest: Anonymous juror in the Louima conspiracy case. The interview was recorded in early March, just after a federal appeals court overturned the convictions of three officers charged with conspiring to cover-up the infamous assault on Abner Louima. 9:24-9:25 One Minute Music Break 9:25-9:39 EXCERPTS OF AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AN ANONYMOUS JUROR IN THE ORIGINAL ABNER LOUIMA CONSPIRACY TRIAL CONT'D 9:39-9:40 One Minute Music Break 9:35-9:45 FROM GROUND ZERO TO GROUND ZERO: AS THE PENTAGON STRUGGLES TO CONTAIN , WE RETURNTO ANOTHER US ATTACK ON AN AFGHAN FAMILY The Pentagon is struggling to contain revelations that a US gunship attacked an Afghan wedding party, killing and wounding scores of guests. Monday's assault was the most deadly "friendly fire" incident since the US began military operations in Afghanistan last October. Yesterday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called US commanders to his office and demanded that they take all necessary measures to avoid any more civilian deaths. The events threaten a serious rift between US forces in Afghanistan, the new government and its population. But more than 36 hours after the assault by a US B-52 bomber and an AC-130 gunship was launched on Uruzgan province, details still remain unclear. The Afghan foreign minister said 40 people had died, including a family of 25, and that a further 100 were wounded. But some reports say up to 120 people were killed. According to local officials and survivors, U.S. warplanes fired on a village for more than two hours after mistaking traditional celebratory gunfire at a rural wedding for groundfire aimed at U.S. forces. Defense officials said today they no longer believe that an errant 2,000-pound bomb from a B-52 could have caused the casualties. But they held open the possibility that a U.S. gunship was responsible. A team of US and Afghan investigators are expected to arrive in Uruzgan province today to begin an investigation. Monday's attack is the second widely-reported episode of civilian deaths during a U.S. military assault in the province of Uruzgan. In January, U.S. Special Forces stormed the village of Hazar Qadam, killing at least sixteen Afghans. U.S. officials later acknowledged that none of the dead or captured had been Taliban or al Qaeda members. Well, yesterday on Democracy Now! we spoke to Masuda Sultan, an Afghan-American, about her own family's story of devastation by US military strikes on Afganistan. Seeking refuge from the US bombing, many members of her family escaped to the small village of Chowkar-Karez, 60 miles north of Kandahar. On October 22, Chowkar-Karez was attacked and 41 civilians were killed. Nineteen of them were members of Masuda's family. Today we are going to follow Masuda Sultan on her journey back to Afghanistan last December. Her journey was made into a film called "Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero," produced by Jon Alpert and Tami Alpert of Downtown Community TV. Tape: Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero (please link this to: 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits

Date Recorded on: 
July 03, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
Ju;y 03, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. July 03 , 2002
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