Prosecutors to Open Conrad Black Trial

19 March 2007

CHICAGO: Fallen media baron Lord Conrad Black will today (Monday) hear prosecution lawyers open their case against him as he stands trial on fraud and racketeering charges. He is accused, together with three associates, of looting more than $80 million (€60m; £41m) from the former Hollinger International media empire.

On Thursday, Black, who has vigorously protested his innocence and describes the charges against him as a "monstrous defamation", was present in the Chicago court when the jury was selected. Today the chosen twenty - 12 jurors and 8 alternates - will be sworn in. Included in the line-up are a postal worker, an unemployed man, a student and a pensioner.

Most of them live in a world far removed from that inhabited by Black and his wife Barbara Amiel during their high society heyday - the the toast of London town when Hollinger owned the British Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, in addition to the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.

The erstwhile chairman/ceo of the company - now rebranded Sun-Times Media Group - is also accused of using corporate cash to pay for an extravagant vacation on a Pacific island and for a lavish birthday bash for his columnist wife.

The principal witness against Black is his former close associate, David Radler, whose guilty plea to fraud and testimony has ensured a lighter jail sentence.

Data sourced from Toronto Star; additional content by WARC staff