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Ex-Prostitute Faces Charges After Recanting Testimony Against Abu-Jamal

October 4, 1996 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ An ex-prostitute found herself back in court Thursday facing another of the criminal charges that have cropped up against her since recanting her testimony against death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Veronica Jones, 35, was arrested on the witness stand Tuesday for an old bad-check charge in New Jersey. She made bail, only to learn that Philadelphia police wanted her for a 1982 prostitution charge.

Jones had testified for two days that police pressured her to lie about seeing Abu-Jamal at the scene of the 1982 murder of a policeman. Now she says she’d actually seen two other men running from the crime right after shots were fired.

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``They’re putting her through the ringer,″ said her attorney, Jordan Yeager, adding his certainty that prosecutors will drop the case, as they did nine other prostitution charges against Jones in the early 1980′s.

``It’s a continual effort to intimidate her and a continuing effort to intimidate any other witnesses from coming forward,″ he said.

Jones was released without bail and given a Nov. 1 trial date.

Abu-Jamal, a teenage member of the Black Panthers who became a radio journalist, was convicted in 1982 for the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel J. Faulkner.

Jones was a 21-year-old, alcoholic when she swore that Abu-Jamal was alone at the shooting. When police arrived, Abu-Jamal was lying beside the officer, bleeding from bullet wounds with his discharged pistol by his side.

Abu-Jamal, 42, never has testified about what happened that night.

Jones, now 35, says fear kept her from coming forward in the intervening years.

Assistant District Attorney Arlene Fisk denied any attempt to stifle Jones, but Stefan Presser, legal director for the local American Civil Liberties Union, said the charges amount to harassment.

The message being sent, he said, is ``if you want to do anything to help this Mumia Abu-Jamal, you’re going to pay the price.″