Ex-Klansman faces trial for 1964 murders

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A former Ku Klux Klansman will go on trial tomorrow for the murder of two young black men who were abducted, beaten and dumped into the Mississippi river in 1964.

James Ford Seale, 71, a former crop duster and sheriff's deputy, faces spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted in a trial that civil rights groups hope will be the first prosecution in a wave of rekindled investigations into unsolved race killings from the era.

Seale and fellow Klansmen are alleged to have picked up the two 19-year-olds - Henry Dee and Charles Moore - as they were hitchhiking in rural southwestern Mississippi.

The Klansmen, who believed the pair were trying to smuggle guns into the state, drove them into the woods where they were questioned and beaten with tree branches.

They were then bound with duct tape and taken by boat on to the river where - still alive - they were thrown overboard, weighted down with chains and an engine block. The bodies were not discovered for two months.

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