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Thursday, Feb. 04, 2010 at 6:07 PM
Ojore Nuru Lutalo Won't Be Charged In Train Threat Arrest
From the Huffington Post:
P. SOLOMON BANDA | 02/ 3/10 02:06 PM | AP
DENVER — Prosecutors in southeastern Colorado said they won't pursue charges against an ex-convict accused of making a threat against an Amtrak train because further investigation revealed the man displayed no bizarre behavior or even made a threat.
Ojore Nuru Lutalo, 64, of Elizabeth, N.J., was arrested Jan. 26 on suspicion of felony endangering public transportation.
Otero County District Attorney Rod Fouracre said Wednesday the Amtrak steward who reported the threats to police later said she hadn't heard the alleged threatening statements herself but reported concerns voiced by other passengers. The passengers on the train later told police they never heard any specific threats to the train.
Lutalo, a self-described anarchist who spent more than 20 years in solitary confinement in New Jersey, said he's relieved.
"I never said anything, I never did anything. I'm not surprised at all," Lutalo said when reached by phone in Denver, where he is staying pending his case. Lutalo had been freed on ,000 bail.
Fouracre said police had probable cause to arrest Lutalo based on the reports phoned in while the train was 10 to 15 minutes away from La Junta.
"But based on the investigation we didn't believe it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Fouracre said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
In an affidavit filed in La Junta, a small farming and ranching community about 140 miles southeast of Denver, police said passengers reported hearing Lutalo saying he hadn't killed anyone yet, and that he talked about going to jail.
The steward reported one passenger hearing Lutalo mention al-Qaida, saying, "17th century tactics won't work, we have 21st century tactics."
"Once she was re-interviewed after her initial statements to police, her statements were different," Fouracre said.
"She heard nothing about weapons nor specific threats against this train ... she noted no bizarre behavior from Mr. Lutalo," read court documents filed Wednesday by prosecutors and signed by District Judge Jon Kolomitz dismissing the case.
Lutalo, who is well known among prison rights activists for his time spent in solitary confinement, was returning to New Jersey after speaking at a Los Angeles book fair sponsored by the Anarchist Black Cross Federation. He had said passengers apparently overheard his cell phone conversations about the book fair but that he never made a threat.
Lutalo was released from a New Jersey prison in August after serving 28 years for armed robbery and weapons offenses involving a shootout with a police officer in 1975 and another shootout with a drug dealer in 1981. Lutalo spent most of his time in prison in solitary confinement because of the anarchist material he was reading was a deemed a security threat, according his New Jersey attorney, Bruce Afran.
Lutalo said he avoided flying and decided to take a train because he feared extra scrutiny at airports because of his criminal record and known political views.
"I might consider the bus," he said.
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