Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s Case Facts
Arrested: February 12, 1986
Charges: Conspiracy to aid bank expropriation, Dr. Shakur was charged under the U. S. conspiracy laws known as “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization” or ‘RICO’ laws (8 counts). The U.S. government alleged that Mutulu’s political associates constituted a racketeering enterprise. Aiding in the escape of Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard).
Jurisdiction: U.S. Federal Court
Disposition: Conviction on all counts – 60 years imprisonment with a recommendation of no parole.
Human Rights Violations
- Evidence, which was illegally seized, was allowed to be presented by the prosecuting attorney.
- Explosives were allowed to be presented in evidence despite the fact that there were no bombings charged against Dr. Shakur.
- A sitting juror was re-admitted after confessing to having discussed the case outside the jury room.
- Despite the juror’s admission of having discussed the case outside the jury room, the judge refused a thorough inquiry.
- Evidence used to convict Dr. Shakur was seized from the home of Marilyn Buck. There was no proof to link Dr. Shakur to the evidence used against him.
- The U.S. government presented testimony of a paid informant who claimed to have participated in the actions for which Dr. Shakur was indicted. Tyrone Ryson received $110,000′ in material benefits and a reduced sentence for his testimony.
- Dr. Shakur submitted a Prisoner of War petition stating the nature of the charges against him coupled with his years of resistance to political oppression required that his case be heard before an international court. The judge denied the motion.
- The Court allowed prosecutor to put before the jury Dr. Shakur’s Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) claim without allowing Dr. Shakur to present any evidence and without the Judge instructing the jury as to the law.
- In his sentencing statement Judge Charles Haight conceded that Dr. Shakur was illegally targeted by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program.
The Criminal Charges
In reference to discussing Mutulu Shakur’s criminal case, three matters tell the real story:
1) For years before the indictment Dr. Shakur was a target of the F.B.I. and other police agencies, and was Subject to their illegal acts as he exercised his constitutional rights as an activist in the Black movement. Thus the trial judge found that”Dr. Shakur while exercising constitutional liberties was illegally pursued by federal law enforcement officers.”and further:”the rights of Dr. Shakur … were violated by the COINTELPRO program.”The COINTELPRO program was a program initiated by the F.B.I. to neutralize leaders of the Black movement.
2) The government tried desperately to get hard evidence of Dr. Shakur committing a crime – but there was none. The government’s case consisted of 115 witnesses and 532 exhibits. It utilized its technical and scientific resources in an effort to obtain evidence against Dr. Shakur, including electronic telephone interceptions, electronic eavesdropping at premises, fingerprint searches and hair and blood analyses. It conducted searches of no less than twelve premises, examining and analyzing everything and anything in those premises. The result of all this vast governmental search for evidence was a striking absence of any evidence at trial connecting Dr. Shakur with the charged criminal conduct:
- No evidence from any electronic telephone interceptions;
- No evidence from any electronic eavesdropping at premises;
- No evidence of any fingerprint of appellant Shakur on any weapon represented by the government to be involved in any of the charged crimes;
- No evidence of any fingerprint of appellant Shakur at any crime scene;
- No evidence of any fingerprint of appellant Shakur on any immovable object at any house alleged to have, been used by the charged criminal enterprise;
- No evidence of any hair of appellant Shakur at any crime scene;
- No evidence of any fingerprint or hair of appellant Shakur on any vehicle alleged to have been used by the charged criminal enterprise;
- No eyewitness identification of appellant Shakur at any crime scene by any third party;
- No evidence indicating ownership or possession by appellant Shakur of any weapon represented by the government to be involved in any of the charged crimes.In fact, the government’s case rested upon one witness, Tyron Rison, who, the government conceded murdered a guard at a Bronx bank robbery, and whose deal with the government resulted in his release from prison after six years in jail.
3) The political context of the charges and trial was admitted by everyone. The prosecutor told the jury it was “political views which motivated” the charged acts. The Court of Appeals, which affirmed Dr. Shakur’s conviction, described him as participating in a group “organized in the mid-1970s to further its conception of the Black struggle in America.” Yet, the political context was ruled irrelevant in determining what the prosecution against Dr. Shakur was really aimed at or what Dr. Shakur was really about while being accused of criminal acts.