06/14/2010

Victims are no angels in Burge torture case

The men who say he suffocated, beat and shocked them are convicted murderers, burglars, gang members and heroin addicts

CHICAGO — The federal case against a former Chicago police official linked to the torture of suspects is relying on witnesses who aren't the most sympathetic figures.

Prosecutors accuse former Lt. Jon Burge of lying about the torture of suspects. The men who say he suffocated, beat and shocked them in the 1970s and 1980s are convicted murderers, burglars, gang members and heroin addicts.

The prosecutors' challenge is to convince jurors that no matter what crimes the men may have committed, Burge and his officers knowingly crossed the line between aggressive police work and illegal torture.

Burge is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying in a civil suit when he said he'd never seen or participated in the abuse of suspects.

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