By Ahmet Abdulaziz….
54 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated on 4th April 1968. This particular assasination had shocked the whole world in general and USA in particular, since he was not just an ordinary man, he was the most prominent civil rights activist, who wanted a world of peace. He wanted a world to be free of all man made problems. He was the person who had said, ” I have a dream……”.
On 28th August 1963, Martim Luther King Jr. had started his public speech, by elaborating his vision, his dream, of a new world. In his speech he had called for civil and economic rights and about ending racism in the United States.
But unfortunately at 6.05 PM on Thursday, 4 April 1968, he was shot dead, as he was standing on the balcony of his second floor room of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. More than half a century has passed, but still, his “dream” shows the way to the civil rights activists everywhere. Unfortunately, the situation everywhere in the world has not yet made any concrete positive step towards the goal of converting his dream into reality. Still, we find people suffering at the hands of the powerful. Still, we see inequality everywhere in the world. Racism is still a big problem .
James Earl Ray, a 40 years old escaped fugitive, was later charged with this murder. He had confessed to the crime and was sentenced to a 99 year prison term. He died in prison on 23 April 1998.
Was Ray the real killer? This is the question that kept not only the media busy for a long time, but always became a political issue in the USA. There were many serious doubts that had surfaced over the time, and the demand to re-open the case was raised. The American Government carried out an investigation and again declared Ray as the killer. But there still are people who think that James Earl Ray was not the real killer, and it was not an act of a single person.
The initial confusion had arisen when Ray recanted his confession, soon after being sentenced to a 99 years term. He came up with his plea of being innocent. Ray told the investigators that there was a gun smuggler, whom he knew as “Raoul”, who was the real person behind the whole episode. In 1993 William F.Pepper, the lawyer of Ray, raised the issue of re-opening the case of his client. He managed to get public support by staging a televised mock trial, in which the “mock jury” found Ray not guilty. But the case was not re-opened.
In 1997, the family members of King openly supported the idea of re-trialing Ray. Dexter Scott King, son of Martin Luther supported Ray’s claim of innocence. However, Tennessee authorities again refused to re-open the case.
However in the year 2000, the Justice Department announced that in 1998, it had carried out an internal investigation, on request of the members of Martin Luther King, but had not found any extra evidence that would be sufficient enough to re-open the case.
More than half a century has passed since Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated, and still, people have doubts about the real identity and motive of his killer.