Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Vindictive prosecutors put Black to the sword

Conrad Black continues to protest his innocence as he appears for resentencing, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

I WROTE the first of 34 articles about Conrad Black and his tribulations with the American legal system in March 2007, and hope that I'm now writing my last. Barring last-minute adjournments, this Friday he will either be on his way to freedom or back to jail.

Assiduous students of the Black saga will remember that there were 14 charges against Black, and he was alleged to have stolen $60m (e42m) from his company. Ultimately he was found guilty of three fraud charges amounting to about $3m (22.1m) as well as one of obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to 78 months, of which he had served 29 before being released on bail last July pending a judgement of the Supreme Court. Since then, two of the fraud convictions have been overturned.

So on June 24 he will appear in front of Judge Amy St Eve (who conducted the original trial) for resentencing. Black continues vigorously to protest his innocence but accepts that his fate is now in her hands: there is no other court of appeal. His supporters hope she will show compassion, not least because Black served his time with grace and diligence, but the prosecutors are a vindictive bunch. They say he should be punished further because of his defiance and lack of remorse. But as Black reasonably said last week: "I have said at every stage I am not guilty. I think I should not be penalised for refusing to show remorse for what I strenuously claim I did not do."

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