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Jury deadlocks in retrial of N.Y. police torture case

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

NEW YORK -- A federal jury convicted a former policeman of perjury Tuesday but deadlocked on more serious civil rights charges stemming from the 1997 police torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in a stationhouse bathroom.

Charles Schwarz, 36, was found guilty of lying under oath by denying that he escorted Louima toward the bathroom after the man's arrest in a street brawl. He faces up to five years in prison at sentencing Sept. 20.

Jurors deliberated for six days before telling U.S. District Judge Reena Raggi they were deadlocked on the two civil rights charges and a second perjury count.

Outside court, U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad said the government was prepared to retry Schwarz on the three charges, which alleged Schwarz held down Louima as another officer sodomized him with a broken broomstick and then lied by saying he wasn't there.

"We are as confident today of his guilt on these charges as we were years ago," Vinegrad said.

Defense attorney Ronald Fischetti said the verdict should convince the government to drop the case. Said Schwarz: "The truth is on my side. I was never in that bathroom. I'll fight this as long as I have to."

An attorney for Louima, Peter Neufeld, said his client would testify against Schwarz again if necessary.


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