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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Jailed ex-Klansman granted bail
Ray Killen leaving court after being sentenced
Killen says the jury should not have been able to consider manslaughter
A former Ku Klux Klan leader jailed in June over the 1964 killing of three civil rights workers has been granted bail pending an appeal.

Mississippi circuit judge Marcus Gordon set bail for 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen at $600,000 (330,000).

Killen was found guilty of manslaughter for masterminding the killings. He was sentenced to 20 years for each death.

He will argue the jury should not have been able to consider manslaughter charges as an alternative to murder.


Killen, who has denied responsibility for the killings, was yet to post bail and reports say relatives were still trying to raise the money for the bond.

He has been held at Neshoba County Jail since his conviction.

The killed civil rights activists
The investigation was dramatised in the film Mississippi Burning
Judge Gordon said he did not believe Killen, who uses a wheelchair, was a risk of absconding or a threat to the community.

"It's not a matter of what I feel, it's a matter of the law," he said.

The activists, Michael Schwerner, 24, Andy Goodman, 20, and James Chaney, 21, were killed while campaigning for the registration of black voters.

They were abducted and killed during the night as they drove out of the Mississippi town of Philadelphia.

Their bodies, riddled with bullets and badly beaten, were buried at a dam and only found 44 days later.

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

The murders gave new impetus to the 1964 US Civil Rights Act and the police investigation was dramatised in the 1988 movie Mississippi Burning.

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