Notorious Irish American mobster James Whitey Bulger will take the stand in his own defense next year when he goes on trial on charges he participated in 19 murders.
But when he does Bulger will claim that he was given immunity, his attorney said on Monday.
According to ABC News, attorney J.W. Carney Jr. told the court that Bulger will testify that he was given immunity for any crimes he committed while he was a top-level FBI informant against the Mafia.
'James Bulger will testify at this trial and he will present evidence, corroborated by others, that he received immunity from the Department of Justice,' Carney said.
Based on this immunity claim Carney said he had originally planned to file a motion to dismiss the charges against Bulger, but he said he no longer plans to file such a motion because Bulger reportedly believes he can get a fairer hearing from a jury about his immunity claim than he can from the judge who is to preside at his trial.
Carney unsuccessfully tried to have U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns recused from the trial scheduled for March 2013 because Stearns was a top federal prosecutor in the 1980's when Bulger allegedly was committing crimes with impunity while also acting as an informant.
Carney had argued that Stearns, who was head of the U.S. attorney's criminal division during part of the 80's, would try to shield his former colleagues and could not be impartial.
Stearns refused to step down however, writing that he had no doubt about his ability to remain impartial and noting he was never involved in the prosecution of a case in which Bulger was a subject or target.
Bulger was the former leader of the murderous Winter Hill Gang prior to fleeing Boston in 1994 after a tip off from his former FBI handler that he was about to be indicted. He was finally captured last year in Santa Monica, California, after 16 years on the run.
In 2002 former Boston FBI Agent John Connolly Jr. was convicted of racketeering for allegedly providing the tip that prompted Bulger's flight. The allegedly corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI was an embarrassment to the agency and led some critics to charge that the FBI didn't try hard to find Bulger while he was a fugitive. The FBI has consistently denied that.
Carney has vowed to uncover the truth, telling reporters that Bulger will 'tell the truth… about why he was able to spend 30 years allegedly committing a whole host of crimes' without being prosecuted for any of them until the 1990's.
'You will hear James Bulger testify about everything,' he promised.
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