Klan suspect faces justice after 43 years

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Sitting in court today before a Yale-educated black judge, James Ford Seale, 71, was a long way from the banks of the Mississippi where, 43 years ago, he is alleged to have tortured and drowned two black teenagers.

As the prosecution laid out in appalling detail Mr Seale’s alleged crimes, he faced photographs of the teenagers on a computer screen and a white lawyer very different from the local sheriff – and fellow Ku Klux Klansman – who dropped the charges against him in 1964.

One of the last chapters in a final reckoning for former Klansmen that has swept the South was opened in Jackson’s federal courthouse in front of eight white and four black jurors.

The scene was played out 160km away, and more than four decades on, from a brutal night that until recently was a footnote to the lynchings and murders of the civil rights era in Mississippi.

Mr Seale, now blotchy-skinned and shrunken, is accused of taking part in the beatings and drownings of 19-year-olds Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore on May 2, 1964.

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