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Tuesday, May 25, 1999 Published at 20:45 GMT 21:45 UK

World: Americas

NYPD officer admits brutality

Volpe [third from right] could face life in prison

A New York police officer on trial for torturing a Haitian immigrant has admitted sodomising him with a wooden stick.

Jason Mills reports: " The blue wall of silence comes down, as officers testify against Volpe"
Justin Volpe, 27, the ringleader in the attack on Abner Louima, faces up to life in prison without parole.

The admission came during the trial of four officers accused of beating Mr Louima up in a Brooklyn police station.

Volpe agreed to plead guilty after a string of witnesses testified against him.

[ image: Mr Louima's case has sparked national outrage]
Mr Louima's case has sparked national outrage
"While in the bathroom of the precinct, in the presence of another officer, I sodomised Mr Louima with a stick," he said.

He denied pushing the stick into Mr Louima's mouth but admitted shoving it close.

"I told him if you tell anyone, I will find you and I will kill you," added Volpe, who wept in court.

The officer said Mr Louima had been handcuffed during the assault and admitted that he had wanted to intimidate him.

Internal injuries

The court has heard that Mr Louima received such severe internal injuries from the attack that he needed emergency surgery.

[ image: Mr Louima was assaulted in this bathroom]
Mr Louima was assaulted in this bathroom
Volpe's lawyer said he expected him to receive "in the vicinity of 30 years". Reports said he could also face a fine as high as $1.5 million.

The other officers on trial for assaulting Mr Louima are Charles Schwarz, 35, Thomas Bruder, 32, and Thomas Wiese, 35.

A fifth officer, Sergeant Michael Bellomo, is charged with a cover-up.


Jane Hughes in New York: The attack provoked nationwide outrage
The court has heard how Mr Louima was arrested outside a nightclub in August 1997 and beaten up so severely in a police patrol car that the back seat was left bloodstained.

Volpe said he had punched Mr Louima thinking it was Mr Louima who had hit him during a fracas outside the club. He later realised he had been mistaken.

Mr Louima's accusations against the police have sparked national outrage and led to street protests.

Reverend Al Sharpton: We've moved one step forward
Outside the courthouse anti-racism activist Reverend Al Sharpton called for Volpe to identify any other officers involved.

"He should sit in his cell and come to terms with his conscience and give the names of those he conspired with," Rev Sharpton said.

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