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Retrial Begins in Widely Followed New York Police Brutality Case - 2002-06-24


A retrial began Monday in a Federal Court in New York against a former police officer accused of taking part in one of the most publicized police brutality cases in the city's history. The new criminal trial is to determine if Charles Schwarz, participated in the 1997 attack.

The assault of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in a police station bathroom sparked angry protests in New York, racial tension, a civil rights lawsuit and a nearly $9 million payment by the city to settle the case.

Now, Mr. Schwarz is on trial for a third time, accused of restraining Mr. Louima while police officer Justin Volpe sodomized him with a broken broomstick.

Volpe, who pleaded guilty, is currently serving a 30-year sentence for torturing Mr. Louima.

Earlier this year, an appeals court overturned Mr. Schwarz's conviction for participating in the attack, saying his lawyer did not defend him adequately. A new trial was ordered after Mr. Schwarz had begun serving a 15-year sentence.

Mr. Schwarz maintains he was not in the station house bathroom at the time of the assault. "All I'm asking for is a fair and impartial jury," he said. "And if I have that then I believe I will be acquitted."

Mr. Louima, who now lives in the U.S. State of Florida, returned to the witness stand in New York to recount his story of torture.

Mr. Louima testified that the driver who brought him to the station house led him to the bathroom and held him down during the attack. Records show that Mr. Schwarz was the driver.

The defense is expected to stress that Mr. Louima has not been able to identify Mr. Schwarz by sight.

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