American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal
A federal judge in the United States has rejected a request from American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal for life-saving medication that could cure his hepatitis C.
The former Black Panther and journalist is seriously ill and not receiving proper medical care. Last year he sued the state of Pennsylvania to receive anti-viral medication for hepatitis C after he was hospitalized in critical condition, and officials said he was not sick enough to be eligible.
US district court judge Robert Mariani said on Wednesday Abu-Jamal’s lawsuit wrongly targeted the warden and the medical chief of the prison system, The Guardian reported.
The judge added that the lawsuit instead should have targeted the four members of the state’s hepatitis C committee, which according to the 61-year-old’s lawyers, did not exist when the lawsuit was filed.
Abu-Jamal’s lawyers described the decision as a partial setback. “We are frustrated he won’t get the treatment that the rest of the judge’s opinion makes clear he is entitled to,” said Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center.
“But the judge’s ruling makes clear that if what he considers the proper defendants were in front of him, he was prepared to strike down the protocol and order that my client be treated in accord with proper medical standards.”
A lawyer for the Pennsylvania’s prison system said that “there simply is not enough money to treat every individual” with chronic hepatitis C and that treating all of them “would cost approximately $600 million. Such an expense would effectively cripple the department.”
Abu-Jamal was arrested and charged with murdering white police officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia in December 1981. One year later, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. But he was resentenced to life in prison in 2012.
Abu-Jamal, who was formerly a radio announcer and the president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, maintains that he is innocent and has submitted numerous appeal requests based on allegations of judicial bias, police brutality, and an inadequate defense during his arrest and trial 32 years ago.
After his controversial trial drew international attention, late South African leader Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, several members of Congress, and a number of celebrities expressed support for Abu-Jamal.
Mumia Abu-Jamal leaves Philadelphia's City Hall after a hearing in 1995.
Abu-Jamal, who graduated from Goddard in 1996, said that his studies at the college provided him an opportunity to learn about important figures in far-off places.
Before his arrest, Abu-Jamal was known for his outspoken political views and commentary on racial injustice and police brutality.
Abu-Jamal joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 15 in May 1969 and helped form the Philadelphia branch of the party. He was a member of the Black Panther Party until October 1970 and was subject to FBI COINTELPRO surveillance from 1969 until about 1974.
The civil right activist has written several books during his years in prison and continues to protest against his conviction on