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The BBC's Jane Hughes
"This is by no means the end of the affair: another officer is yet to be sentenced"
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BBC interview with Sanford Rubenstein
Mr Louima's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, reads out a statement from his client
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Monday, 13 December, 1999, 21:30 GMT
NYPD officer jailed for brutality

louima Abner Louima was hospitalised for over two months

A former New York patrolman has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for an assault on a Haitian immigrant in a case of police brutality that shocked the United States.

I was and still am ashamed
Justin Volpe
The officer, Justin Volpe, had admitted assaulting Abner Louima in 1997 by shoving a broken broom handle into his rectum. Mr Louima was hospitalised for two and a half months.

Judge Eugene Nickerson said Volpe was guilty of a "barbarous misuse of power".

"Short of intentional murder, one cannot imagine a more barbaric act."

Mr Louima issued a statement after sentencing in which he said a message should be sent to police officers that they would be held accountable for acts of brutality.

"I hope this sentence will act as a deterrent," the statement said.

Entrenched racism

The BBC's Jane Hughes in New York said the assault seriously strained relations between police and minority communities.

volpe Volpe was said to have boasted of the attack
The attack provoked angry demonstrations by thousands of people, who said it was symptomatic of widespread police racism and brutality.

Mr Louima has filed a multi-million dollar law suit against the city demanding compensation for his experience.

He told the court that whenever he thought about the attack, "I remember that I was close to dying.

"When I closed my eyes inside the 70th precinct cell and the hospital room, I could see death everywhere."

'Extremely sorry'

Prosecutors, who described the act as the worst case of police violence in New York's history, had asked for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

They said Volpe had boasted about the attack to colleagues, waving the stick he had used and telling them that he had broken a man down.

"I hurt many people. I was - and still am - ashamed ... I am extremely sorry," Volpe said in a statement to the court that convicted him earlier this year.

Another New York police officer, Charles Schwartz, was later found guilty of taking part in the assault. Two officers were acquitted in connection with beating Mr Louima in a patrol car. A third was acquitted of covering up the attack.

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See also:
09 Jun 99 |  Americas
NYPD officer guilty of beating
26 May 99 |  Americas
NYPD officer admits brutality
07 May 99 |  Americas
Haitian confronts alleged tormentors

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