Jury: Burge Lied About Torture

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sun-Times
    Former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge

    A decorated former Chicago police lieutenant accused of suffocating, shocking and beating confessions out of scores of suspects was convicted Monday for lying about the torture of suspects.

    Jon Burge, 62, had pleaded not guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges.  He was accused of lying in a 2003 civil lawsuit when he said he's never seen or participated in torturing suspects in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Burge repeated those denials on the witness stand at his four-week trial in U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's courtroom.  He broke down to tears while taking the stand in his own defense.

    Monday's verdict -- guilty on one court of perjury and guilty on two counts of obstruction -- was reached during the jury's third day of deliberations.  Burge sat quiety and did not show much emotion when the verdict was read.

    Torture Victim: "These People Stole My ... Life!"

    [CHI] Torture Victim: "These People Stole My ... Life!"
    An emotional Mark Clements reacts to the verdict in the Jon Burge perjury, obstruction of justice trial. Clements spent 27 years in prison and arson and murder charges and says he was tortured when he was 16 years old.

    "We are elated that finally 25 years after this evidence first came to light, there is some modicum of justice," said Flint Taylor, an attorney for torture victims, outside the courtroom.  "But as all of us know, this is only one phase in a long struggle that shall continue."

    He said the next phase is finding those who allegedly abused suspects and trying them in a court of law.

    "I sat in a prison cell and I prayed for this day," said a very emotional Mark Clements.  Clements spent 27 years in prison on arson and murder charges.  He said he was tortured when he was 16 years old.

    Burge quietly left the Dirksen Federal Building under protection of U.S. Marshals' deputies.  The jurors also declined to speak publicly following the trial.

    Jurors earlier in the day asked two questions of the judge. The first was about a defendant's right to plead the Fifth Amendment. The second dealt with Burge's answers in the civil suit.

    During the trial, prosecutors presented testimony from five men who said Burge and his men shocked, suffocated and beat them into giving confessions to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder.

    The defense contended that Burge was a hero.

    "He was not afraid to confront evil out there," said defense attorney Richard Beuke, painting Burge and men under his command as defenders of law and order on the south side.

    Burge faces up to 45 years in prison.  Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 5.