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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Mississippi mayor backs accused
Edgar Ray Killen in court
Mr Killen was acquitted on related charges in 1967
A former mayor has defended a man accused of the 1964 murders of three US civil rights workers at his trial in the Mississippi town of Philadelphia.

Harlan Majure said Edgar Ray Killen was a good man and his former membership of white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan would not change his opinion.

Mr Majure, who was mayor during the 1990s, said as far as he was aware the the KKK was a "peaceful organisation".

Mr Killen, 80, denies any part in the killings of the young men.

Michael Schwerner, 24, Andy Goodman, 20, and James Chaney, 21, had been campaigning to register black voters.

They were abducted and killed during the night as they drove out of the Mississippi town. Their bodies were buried at a dam.


Mr Majure told the packed courtroom he was not personally aware of the KKK's bloody past.

The group "did a lot of good up here", he said.

Mr Killen, who was a suspect in the original investigation but never convicted, was re-arrested after new evidence emerged.

The story of the original FBI investigation into the crime was dramatised in the 1988 film Mississippi Burning.

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