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Courting Trouble

Defense tactics in the Abner Louima trial.

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With a contentious jury selection process already setting the stage for a racially charged trial, federal prosecutors suspect that the lawyer for the lead defendant in the Abner Louima torture case is planning a bombshell defense: He intends to argue that the Haitian immigrant suffered severe internal injuries not during a vicious August 1997 assault in a Brooklyn precinct bathroom -- but through an act of sodomy.

In a recent letter to government lawyers, attorney Marvyn M. Kornberg, who represents Officer Justin Volpe, stated that three medical experts will testify that Louima's injuries were "inconsistent with the forcible insertion of a blunt object in his rectum." Anticipating Kornberg's trial theory regarding Louima's rectal and bladder injuries, prosecutor Alan Vinegrad wrote in response that a government medical expert will testify that the damage was "not caused by a penis."

Any attempt to claim that Louima, the married father of two young children, was hurt prior to his arrest and detention at the 70th Precinct is likely to make use of FBI records provided to Kornberg and other defense counsel. These bureau documents, which record pre-indictment interviews with Officer Thomas Bruder and Sergeant Michael Bellomo, include claims that Club Rendezvous, the rowdy Flatbush Avenue nightclub Louima visited, was "allegedly a gay club" and that police vouchering Louima's personal belongings discovered a flyer (subsequently discarded) decorated with "pictures of guys with no shirts" that advertised an "All Male Review."

Louima had been arrested for slugging Volpe during a mêlée outside Club Rendezvous, but those charges were dropped. Investigators allege that Volpe, aided by another officer, dragged Louima into a station-house bathroom and shoved a stick into the suspect's rectum and then into his mouth. Bruder is facing charges that he beat Louima in a patrol car en route to the 70th Precinct, while Bellomo has been indicted for allegedly trying to cover up the assaults.

For more intriguing documents, visit 'The Smoking Gun' online at thesmokinggun.com.


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