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RSF concerned over possible postponement of Bailey trial

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is concerned at the possibility that there could be further delays in bringing Yusuf Bey IV to trial on a charge of ordering the murder of "Oakland Post" editor Chauncey Bailey and two other men in the summer of 2007.

Bey's trial was due to begin on 2 August, but it could now be pushed back after his lawyer, Lorna Brown, withdrew from the case over an undisclosed conflict of interest. On 17 May, a superior court in Alameda, California, scheduled a hearing for 21 June to hear arguments by Bey's new defence team for a possible change of venue.

"We hope there will be no further delays," Reporters Without Borders said. "The hearing scheduled for 2 August would coincide with the third anniversary of Bailey's murder. Enough time has gone by. As Bey is being investigated on suspicion of ordering the murder of witnesses in this case, it seems obvious the trial should be held as soon as possible. We once again call for a federal investigation into this case."

Bailey was gunned down while walking to work on the morning of 2 August 2007 in Oakland, California. Prior to his death, he had been investigating financial and legal problems at Your Black Muslim Bakery, a local business and community organization of which Bey had recently assumed the leadership.

Devaughndre Broussard, a 19-year-old bakery employee who was arrested the day after the murder, confessed to killing Bailey because he thought the journalist's work could hurt the bakery. He later changed his story, accusing Bey of ordering Bailey's murder and telling him to take the blame. The Oakland police strangely paid little attention to Bey in the early stages of the investigation.

Bey has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder even after a video showed him describing the shooting to fellow inmates in a prison interrogation room. The video was released by journalists with the Chauncey Bailey Project ( http://www.chaunceybaileyproject.org/ ). In the video, Bey acknowledges that the murder weapon was in his possession.

Under Californian law, both Bey and Broussard are facing a possible death sentence for Bailey's murder. Reporters Without Borders reiterates its opposition to the death penalty.

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