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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Ku Klux Klan murder trial opens
James Seale is escorted to court in Jackson, Mississippi
The case was reopened after a campaign by Mr Moore's brother
A former Ku Klux Klan member charged with kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the 1964 murders of two black teenagers has gone on trial.

James Seale, 71, denies killing Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee.

The former sheriff's deputy was first arrested in 1964. The authorities later freed him, citing lack of evidence.

The case was reopened after a campaign by Mr Moore's brother, who had discovered that Mr Seale was still alive. He was rearrested in January.

The trial in Jackson, Mississippi, began on Wednesday with jury selection.

Mr Seale is charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Protection

Prosecutors said that in May 1964 Mr Seale aimed a shotgun at the two black men while fellow Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members beat them with tree branches.

According to the indictment, Mr Seale and the others attached weights to the two men, took them out on the water in a boat and threw them into the river.

James Ford Seale police picture from 1964
Mr Seale was first arrested over the killings in 1964

Their bodies were discovered two months later by the FBI during a search for three missing civil rights workers. Mr Seale and a second man were arrested at the time.

Consumed by the civil rights case, the FBI turned the case over to the local authorities, which threw out all charges because they claimed there was not enough evidence.

If convicted, Mr Seale will face a maximum term of life imprisonment on each count of the indictment.

For years, Mr Seale's family told reporters that he had died.

In 2005, Thomas Moore alerted the authorities to the fact that Mr Seale was living a few miles from where the kidnappings took place.

The FBI is currently re-opening several cases from the civil rights era before suspects die.

During the movement of the 1950s and 1960s, dozens of black people were killed by white people who wanted to retain racial segregation.

Few of the crimes were solved, partly because some of the perpetrators were protected by state and local officials.




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SEE ALSO
US man in 1964 race attack charge
25 Jan 07 |  Americas
Jailed ex-Klansman granted bail
12 Aug 05 |  Americas
Mississippi murders revisited
12 Jan 05 |  Americas

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