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Trial of suspected perpetrator of Chauncey Bailey's murder begins

(RSF/IFEX) - The scheduled arraignments of former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, Yusuf Bey IV, and his associate Antoine Mackey have been postponed again until May 29, 2009, after Mr. Mackey's court-appointed attorney expressed doubts about being able to take on the case. Bey's lawyers also won a court motion temporarily preventing anyone involved in the case from speaking about it.

Bey IV was indicted on April 29 by a grand jury on three counts of murder for allegedly ordering former bakery employees Devaughndre Broussard and Mackey to kill the late editor of the "Oakland Post", Chauncey Bailey, before he could publish a story about the bakery's financial problems. The trial of Broussard, who had previously been the only suspect charged in Bailey's murder, began on May 18, in Oakland, California.

"The recent progress made on this case, almost two years after the facts and despite an initial investigation marred by irregularities, should not let up. We urge the court to maintain the May 29 arraignment and to set a trial date for both Bey and Mackey as soon as possible," stated Reporters Without Borders. "We hope that all those involved in Chauncey Bailey's murder will be punished, however, as an international human rights organization opposed to the death penalty, we hope the court will not hand down any capital punishment sentence."

Devaughndre Broussard, 21, has already admitted to killing Chauncey Bailey as part of a plea deal struck with the Alameda County district attorney's office in April. He agreed to provide evidence that the journalist's murder, as well as two other slayings, were ordered by Yusuf Bey IV. Under the deal, Broussard will serve 25 years in prison instead of a life sentence. In exchange he will testify, as he did to a grand jury in April, to Bey IV and Mackey's involvement in the murder.

Yusef Bey IV is currently being held in custody without bail in an unrelated kidnapping and torture case, while Mackey is in San Quentin Prison on burglary charges. Both men have denied having anything to do with Bailey's murder. If convicted, Bey faces the death penalty. Bey IV and Mackey's indictments come after a lengthy investigation into Bailey's killing by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

The Oakland police homicide investigator first assigned to the Bailey case, Sgt. Derwin Longmire, has been suspended after he was found to have compromised the investigation and had undocumented contact with Bey IV against orders from his superiors.

The temporary gag order, issued by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer, will be in place until at least May 29, when both Bey IV and Mackey are scheduled to appear in court to enter a plea on three counts of murder. Hymer also said the court will hear motions on May 29 which seek to unseal transcripts of the grand jury testimony which lead to the indictments against Bey IV and Mackey.

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