Native prisoner Leonard Peltier’s case will be heard once again.
The last time Peltier was in court it was 1993. This time it’s something new in the annals of American law.
A hearing will be heard on whether the U.S. Parole Commission denial Peltier his rights.
Peltier is considered to be a political prisoner by Amnesty International, which insists he be immediately and unconditionally released. He has become a notorious symbol of injustice against indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Peltier was originally convicted in 1977 for the first-degree murders of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams.
Peltier’s lawyers, who include a former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, challenge as illegal, erroneous, arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional the Commission’s denial of parole to Peltier and its decision to schedule Peltier’s next parole release hearing in December 2008.
This was 15 years in the future from when the decision was made. The parole commission is scheduled to be dismantled in 2002.
The legal complaint also charges that changes in federal parole laws and practices since 1975 mean Peltier should have been let out by now legally speaking.
Prosecutors have openly stated there was not enough evidence to prove Peltier was responsible for the deaths of the two agents killed in the 1975 shoot-out on the Lakota Reservation. But the Commission has ignored this and repeatedly refused to reconsider parole, stating Peltier has not yet taken criminal responsibility for the deaths.
Yet, after a 1995 parole hearing review, the parole commission ruled, “The Commission recognizes that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that you personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”
Peltier, who has always maintained his innocence, is spending his 24th year in prison.