July 19, 2006

Chicago police detectives tortured suspects: report

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Using electric shock, beatings and
suffocation, Chicago police tortured criminal suspects into
giving confessions during the 1970s and 1980s, the authors of a
report said on Wednesday.

But the abuse inflicted on suspects by Chicago Police
Commander Jon Burge -- who has since been fired, lives in
Florida and receives a full pension -- and detectives under his
command occurred too long ago to pursue criminally, a four-year
investigation concluded.

"We have concluded that there was violence and there was
violence on more than one person," special prosecutor Robert
Boyle told reporters.

"We have also concluded ... that based on our
investigation, that if the statute of limitations had not run,
we would seek a criminal indictment in three cases" from the

In some cases, suspects were subjected to death threats and
fake Russian roulette, lawyers representing suspects have said.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Committee Against
Torture asked for a federal investigation of Chicago police
torture, following an appeal from lawyers who have sued Burge
and the city on behalf of dozens of suspects.

The U.N. committee said the United States "should promptly,
thoroughly and impartially investigate all allegations of acts
of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment by law enforcement personnel and bring perpetrators
to justice."

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who headed the local
prosecutor's office during part of the period when the torture
occurred, has been criticized for not investigating Burge and
his men. The special prosecutor's report cited a former head of
the police department for failing to look into torture

Lawyers asked the local U.S. attorney to prosecute Burge. A
spokesman for prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald declined to