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Blair's wife pleads to reopen slaying case

A Supreme Court hearing into the 1996 slaying of a Canadian teenager ended Tuesday with a plea from Tony Blair's wife to reopen the case and bring justice to the victim's family.

Cherie Booth, a prominent human rights attorney, urged the court to allow charges of rape, kidnapping and torture against two men who have so far evaded the charges in the death of Rebecca Middleton because of what critics say were mistakes by authorities in the British island territory.

Booth argued that the murder charge against one suspect was wrongly dismissed and that another suspect, who received a five-year prison sentence as an accessory to the crime, should have faced a more serious charge.

"This is not an ordinary case. In fact, this is a unique case," Booth said in arguing that the Supreme Court should allow new charges against the suspects, Justis Raham Smith and Kirk Orlando Mundy.

Chief Justice Richard Ground said he would take three weeks to issue a ruling.

Middleton's family began pressing for new charges last year after Bermuda's top prosecutor decided not to revisit the case against Smith and Mundy despite new evidence.

Mundy's lawyer, Charles Richardson, said his client could not receive a fair trial because of publicity the case has generated.

"The pulse of public opinion in this country already has my client convicted of murder." Richardson said.

Middleton was seeing leaving a bar on a motorcycle with Smith and Mundy on her 17th birthday in 1996. She was found near death on a deserted road later that night. She had been raped, repeatedly stabbed and her throat was slit.

Smith, a Bermudian who was 19 at the time of the crime, was charged with murder but a judge dismissed the case, citing a lack of evidence.

Mundy, a Jamaican who was 21, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime in 1996 and received a five-year prison sentence. Later test results found evidence of his semen inside the victim, but he was not tried for murder because he had already been convicted of the lesser charge.

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