Conrad Black requests new trial

Conrad Black is asking a US judge for a new trial after he was convicted in July of swindling the Hollinger International newspaper empire he once ran out of millions of dollars.

In an e-mail to The Canadian Press last night, the former owner of the Daily Telegraph said he remained optimistic about his chances since it “would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand”.

“I am fine thank you, and enjoying my house in Palm Beach,” he wrote. “I remain optimistic.”

His comment followed a motion filed with a Chicago court late yesterday, in which Black’s lawyers said Judge Amy St Eve should grant him a new trial, “taking into account the credibility of the witnesses”.

“The court must consider the weight of the evidence, and must grant a new trial if that evidence preponderates heavily against the verdict, such that it would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand,” the court documents said.

Defence lawyers spent considerable time during the trial trying to shred the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, David Radler, saying Black’s former business partner was a convicted felon who was implicating his one-time friend in order to secure a sweetheart deal with prosecutors.

Radler, Black’s second-in-command at newspaper company Hollinger International, had pleaded guilty to one count of fraud in exchange for a $250,000 (£125,000) fine and a lenient sentence.

He also agreed to testify for prosecutors, but St Eve rejected a defence request to recall Radler in order to cross-examine his deal further. Defence lawyers say that ruling stood in the way of justice.

“The only evidence linking Mr Black to the payments (other than his receipt of a cheque) is the unsupported, incredible testimony of the government’s co-operating witness, F. David Radler,” the filing said.

“The alleged telephone call on which the government’s case rests were undocumented, and even Radler himself could not remember them in detail.”

Black and his three co-defendants were found guilty of three counts of fraud and Black was also convicted of one count of obstruction of justice. He has maintained his innocence and vowed to appeal.

Black, who gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to become a member of Britain’s House of Lords, was freed on bail pending sentencing on November 30, but told to stay in Chicago or in Palm Beach, Florida, where he owns a home.

He was not allowed to return to Canada.

Radler’s sentencing has been set for December 10.

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