Closing arguments presented in Jackson case

MUMBAI: The fate of pop icon Michael Jackson hangs in the balance. Yesterday the prosecution and the defense presented their closing arguments in the case that has taken the global media by the storm.

Both sides focussed on the credibility of the singer's young accuser and his family. For the prosecution Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said, This case is about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor by an international celebrity. He said the defence case was entirely limited to attacks on the credibility of the boys mother.

The jury will get the case today. The 46 year old singer has been charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy in early 2003 and with giving the child with alcohol to help in the molestation. Jackson is also charged with conspiring with aides to control the family so they would participate in a favourable interview. If convicted of all charges, Jackson could be sentenced to more than 18 years in prison.

Zoren said that Jackson brought the boys to Neverland, where rules never applied. He would parade around naked, simulate sex acts and show the boys pornography designed to appeal to heterosexual teenagers

The defense attorney Thomas A. Mesereau said, "This is not a popularity contest between lawyers. The question here is the life and freedom of Michael Jackson. I submit based on the witnesses and the evidence you have seen, there is no way you can find that they (the family) are truthful beyond a reasonable doubt. "There is no way you can convict Michael Jackson."

Media reports indicate that Jackson looked tired and slightly fed up at the proceedings. Yesterday three of his brothers and their parents came to the US court to lend their support to the singer.

There is no independent corroboration of the molestation. This means that the jurors will have to decide whether the accuser's testimony is credible. Mesereau portrayed the family of the accuser as greedy opportunists who used the boy's cancer to take advantage of a gullible and overly generous star. He called them con artists, actors and liars. He said the accuser and his brother had perjured themselves when they testified.

"This is a family where children have been taught to con and children have been taught to lie,"

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