"Statements were authored by DeMain that were false, defamatory, and malicious. They were then circulated by DeMain's newspaper with reckless disregard and with the knowledge that they were false," explained Barry Bachrach, Peltier's attorney. "DeMain stated, as a matter of fact, that Mr. Peltier was guilty of shooting the two FBI agents when the government itself has repeatedly admitted that it did not and cannot prove that Mr. Peltier shot the agents," Bachrach added. "DeMain also has implied Peltier's involvement in the Pine Ridge murder of fellow AIM member Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash in 1976."
According to Bachrach, DeMain had avoided giving a deposition for several months. Just before a deposition was finally to take place, on or about April 9, 2004, the two parties began settlement negotiations. With nothing further to negotiate, an agreement was reached on April 16th.
DeMain himself proposed that he issue a statement that affirms that:
1. "there has been widespread misconduct in the judicial system historically in cases involving Native Americans;
2. Leonard Peltier did not receive a fair trial;
3. he is entitled to one;
4. there have been numerous instances of questionable conduct by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in connection with the prosecution of Native Americans in this country;
5. the legal/social/political environment prevailing on the Pine Ridge Reservation during the 1970s could be legitimately compared to a 'war zone'; [and]
6. he [DeMain] neither believes nor feels that Mr. Peltier ordered , or was capable of ordering, the death of Ms. Pictou-Aquash, nor does he believe according to the evidence and testimony he now has, that Mr. Peltier had any involvement in her death."
In exchange, Peltier agreed to dismiss with prejudice his lawsuit against DeMain.
However, to date, DeMain has not issued his statement. With the exception of a call from DeMain's attorney indicating only a brief delay, Demain and his attorney have not answered Bachrach's telephone calls. Therefore, a motion to enforce performance of the settlement agreement was filed with the court.
Leonard Peltier's case has been the topic of several books – In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by renowned writer Peter Matthiessen, for example – and documentaries, most notably Incident at Oglala produced by Robert Redford. Amnesty International, convinced that he did not receive a fair trial and will not receive fair consideration for parole or executive clemency, has called for Peltier's immediate and unconditional release. Leonard Peltier, noted for his continuing activism and humanitarian works, also was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Justice is possible for both Anna Mae and Leonard Peltier, but justice won't be done in either case by people falsely pointing fingers of blame. Leonard's only concern is for the truth, which is why monetary damages are not a part of this settlement. We believe that Anna Mae's murder was the direct result of FBI misconduct on Pine Ridge during the 1970s."
Peltier's legal team, supported by human rights organizations worldwide, continues to urge congressional hearings on FBI misconduct against AIM and Peltier. The attorneys recently submitted a formal request for hearings to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, DC.
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, PO Box 583, Lawrence, KS 66044-0583
Telephone: 785/842-5774; 785/842-5796 (Fax)