WASHINGTON

Feds to re-examine cases for flawed forensic work

The Justice Department and FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday.

The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available, people familiar with the process said. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the country, often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery.

The review comes after The Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases.

 

STATE COLLEGE, Pa.

Report on Penn State, Sandusky to be published

A potentially explosive report into whether late football coach Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials took steps to conceal that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was a child molester will be released Thursday – online for all to see, officials said Tuesday.

Attorneys for the university’s deposed president, meanwhile, broke a monthslong silence and denied suggestions that Graham Spanier participated in a cover-up with the image of Penn State and its powerful and lucrative football program at stake.

The internal report by former FBI chief Louis Freeh is expected to reveal how the university treated Sandusky, Paterno’s one-time heir apparent, after top administrators fielded complaints about his encounters with young boys more than a decade ago.

Freeh’s spokesman said the report will be published online at 9 a.m. Thursday.

DALLAS

Texas switching to one-drug method of inmate execution

Texas, the nation’s most active death penalty state, announced Tuesday that it would become the latest to switch to single-drug executions amid a drug shortage that has left states scrambling for acceptable alternatives.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said it will begin using a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital to carry out death sentences. It had been using that drug in combination with two others, but its supply of one of the other drugs expired.

Sodium thiopental became unavailable when its European supplier bowed to pressure from death penalty opponents and stopped making it.

BAGHDAD

U.N. envoy seeks support for plan to calm Syrian violence

The U.N.’s special envoy on the Syrian crisis sought to build support for his peace efforts Tuesday with the leaders of Iran and Iraq, saying President Bashar Assad has agreed to a plan to quell the bloodshed in the most violent areas of Syria and then expand the operation to the whole country.

Top diplomat Kofi Annan said at a news conference in Tehran, Iran, that the plan still must be presented to the Syrian opposition. But he said his talks with Assad a day earlier focused on a new approach to ending the violence, which activists say has killed more than 17,000 people since March 2011.

Annan later visited Iraq and met Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to discuss ways to end the fighting.

LONDON

Residents balk at missiles on roof for Olympics’ sake

It has been a tough few months at the pockmarked concrete high-rise known as Fred Wigg Tower. First a fire, then a rash of burglaries of fire-damaged apartments. And now the British army will be putting a battery of high-velocity missiles on the roof.

The defense ministry says the missiles, capable of shooting down a hijacked aircraft, are a key piece of security for the London Olympics, which start July 27. But many residents of the east London public housing project were dismayed.

Said Iqbal Hossain, who lives there with his wife and three children, “If it’s about safety for the Olympics, what about safety for us? If there is a terrorist attack, the first thing they are going to attack is the missiles.”

A High Court judge rejected that argument Tuesday, quashing a challenge by locals.