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#2232: Louima takes stand at obstruction trial... (fwd)


Tuesday February 08 10:32 AM EST 
 Louima takes stand at obstruction trial, still can't identify
 Schwarz as attacker_____ By Bryan Robinson, Court TV

 NEW YORK (Court TV)  Abner Louima once again failed to positively
identify Charles Schwarz as one of his attackers as testimony began in
the obstruction trial of the NYPD officers linked to his 1997 sodomy and
beating.  Federal prosecutors believe Thomas Bruder, Thomas Wiese and
Charles Schwarz lied about their knowledge of Louima's torture in the
two years after the incident. According to the prosecution, Bruder and
Wiese lied to investigators in an attempt to protect Schwarz. Bruder and
Wiese were accused of beating Louima on the way to the 70th Precinct on
Aug. 7, 1997 but were acquitted of the charges at trial in June.
Schwarz, however, was convicted of civil rights violations and
conspiracy. He was accused of standing guard at a bathroom door and
holding Louima down while the officer's partner, Justin Volpe, sodomized
him with a broken wooden stick.  Louima took the stand Monday as the
prosecution's first witness. As in the sodomy trial last year, Louima
admitted that he still cannot identify Schwarz as the officer who held
him down during the attack. But, he said the second officer in the 70th
Precinct bathroom was the same one who drove him to the police station.
Police records have shown that the driver of that car was Schwarz. 
 Since his conviction, Schwarz has maintained his innocence and insists
jurors convicted the wrong man. In his opening statements, Ron
Fischetti, Schwarz's attorney, promised to prove that his client was
wrongly convicted and was not even in the bathroom during the attack. 
 "He never walks him toward the bathroom. Never. We'll prove it to you,"
Fischetti told jurors.  Fischetti said he would call Schwarz to the
stand as well as Volpe. Volpe pleaded guilty during the civil rights
 and is currently serving a 30-year sentence. During his plea, Volpe
told the court outside the presence of the jury that another officer was
with him during the assault, but he did not name the officer. [Jurors
never heard about Volpe's statement.]  Volpe's attorney, Marvyn
Kornberg, claims his client told prosecutors that the other officer was
Wiese, not Schwarz. 
 Federal prosecutors portrayed Schwarz, Bruder and Wiese as desperate
officers who, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad, "told
lie after lie" to protect one of their own. Vinegrad stressed that the
officers made dozens of calls to fellow officers days after the attack.
Vinegrad indicated several close friends and colleagues, in whom the
officers confided, would be called to testify.  Stuart London and Joseph
Tacopina, lawyers for Bruder and Wiese, denied that their clients were
involved in any attempted cover-up. If anything, both attorneys argued,
Bruder and Wiese helped out the investigation because they
 both implicated Volpe. Tacopina noted that Wiese put himself in a
compromising position by telling investigators that he walked into the
bathroom after the attack but didn't realize what had happened.
 If convicted of the obstruction charges, Schwarz, Bruder and Wiese
could each face five years in prison. In his civil rights criminal case,
Schwarz could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced on a later
date. However, he plans to appeal that conviction.