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A Supreme Court blow to anti-death penalty icon Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed an appeals court ruling that would have given Mumia Abu-Jamal a chance to avoid the dealth penalty. Some opponents of capital punishment have championed Abu-Jamal's case.

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Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose death sentence for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 has become an international cause célèbre for opponents of capital punishment, has suffered a significant setback at the US Supreme Court.

In a summary order issued on Tuesday, the high court reversed a 2008 federal appeals court ruling that had required a new sentencing hearing for Mr. Abu-Jamal.

The Supreme Court action sends the case back to the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to reconsider the issue in light of a similar decision handed down last week by the high court. In that case, with similar facts, the justices voted 9 to 0 to reverse an order that struck down the death sentence.

Tuesday’s action by the Supreme Court likely moves Abu-Jamal significantly closer to execution.

Abu-Jamal’s writings about his legal plight have attracted widespread attention among human rights activists and capital punishment opponents in the US and Europe. He has maintained that the police coerced witnesses to testify against him and that racial prejudice and discrimination played a role in his death sentence.

This week, supporters began circulating a petition to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation into the “long history of civil rights and constitutional violations in this case.”

The case against Abu-Jamal

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