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Captured 1972--8 Life Sentences--In prison 51 YEARS
Birthday Jan. 9, 1947
The "Virgin Island Five" are a group of activists accused of murdering eight people in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The murders took place during a turbulent period of rebellion on the Islands. The island was put under virtual martial law, and eventually five men: Ismail Ali, Warren (Aziz) Ballantine, Meral (Malik) Smith, Raphael (Kwesi) Joseph, and Hanif Shabazz Bey were apprehended and then charged with the attack. All the men were known supporters of the Virgin Island independence movement.
The five were charged after being subjected to vicious torture in order to extract confessions. They were beaten, hung from their feet and necks from trees, subject to electric shocks with cattle prods, had plastic bags tied over their heads and had water forced up their noses by the "defenders of the law." The judge (Warren Young) overlooking the case worked as Rockefeller's private attorney and even handled legal matters for the Fountain Valley Golf Course prior to being placed on the federal bench. Eventually, the five went to trial in what became known as the "Fountain Valley" murder trial. This was an obvious Kangaroo Court and a mockery of any sense of a fair trial. On August 13, 1973, each of the five men were convicted and sentenced to eight (8) consecutive life terms.
Today, Warren (Aziz) Ballantine, Meral (Malik) Smith, and Hanif Shabazz Bey are all confined in prison. Ismail Ali was liberated to Cuba via an airplane hijacking in 1984. Raphael (Kwesi) Joseph was granted a pardon by the V.I. governor in 1992. Six years later Kwesi was mysteriously found dead of poison-laced drug overdose, after it was said that he was about to reveal evidence that would have exonerated at least one or more defendants.
Abdul (Warren Ballantine) was 23 at the time of his arrest. Now in his 70s, he has several chronic health issues that are difficult to manage inside prison, including advanced cardiac disease, severe arthritis and degenerative disc disease with injury to the spinal cord. After suffering two massive heart attacks in 2016, he is often unable to do many simple tasks, including ambulating to the visiting room or the phone area to call loved ones. Of his time with the Awaken Mentoring Group out of Golden Grove prison, he recalls, “we were doing excellent and exemplary work… on many different occasions attending schools, youth rehabilitation centers and other places to enlighten children.” He has support within the Virgin Islands and mainland U.S., and at his age and stage of health he is not at risk to recidivate and should be granted release so that his daughter can care for him.