The federal perjury trial for former police commander Jon Burge, who allegedly led a crew of officers who tortured confessions out of hundreds of suspects in the 1970s and '80s, begins today, as jurors are selected.
Despite the many allegations of torture--that prosecutors say they can prove in court--the statute of limitations on those cases "expired long ago," the Chicago Tribune reports. Instead, Burge will be tried for perjury, accused of lying under oath about his involvement in the abuse in 2003.
"Jon Burge standing trial means a lot to the African-American community, and it means a lot to me, that finally some justice will come out of this ordeal of torture," Mark Clements, 45, told the Tribune. Clements was repeatedly beaten by officers working under Burge until he confessed to a crime he did not commit. He was jailed for 28 years.
Burge, who is living on police pension, had avoided criminal charges until he was arrested at his Florida home in October 2008 on perjury and obstruction charges related to a 2003 lawsuit, the Tribune reports.
Potential jurists will be interviewed today.
Some feel that Burge's perjury and obstruction of justice charges are not enough.
"Who wouldn't want to see him put in the same cage he put us in?" Ronald Kitchen, 51, who was freed in July after 21 years in prison told the Tribune. "But unless he gets up on the stand and admits what he did, there's no justice in it for me."