Killer in Death Row reprieve

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The Independent Online
IN A highly unusual intervention, the United States Supreme Court granted a last minute stay of execution to a Canadian citizen convicted of murder in the state of Texas. The ruling was handed down less than half-an-hour before the scheduled time of execution by lethal injection.

The case of Stan Faulder, who was sentenced to death for the murder of an oil heiress in 1975 during a robbery that went wrong, has caused an outcry in Canada and among human rights organisations. The Canadian authorities complained that they had not been informed of his detention, even though the US is bound by international convention to do so.

The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, appealed to the state governor, George W. Bush, at the weekend at least to delay the execution, but her plea was rejected. A last-minute appeal through the courts also failed, and Faulder was scheduled to die at 7pm last night.

This is the third instance this year of a foreign national on Death Row who has been tried and condemned under the law of a US state who has fallen between the jurisdiction of the US federal authorities, which are responsible for informing the foreign country concerned, and that of the individual state. But it is the first in which the US Supreme Court has intervened.

In the last case, also in Texas, a plea from the Paraguayan government on behalf of one of its citizens was summarily rejected.

Canada, which does not have the death penalty, had made known that it would have funded Faulder's defence and argued for a life sentence in the event of conviction. Faulder's publicly funded defence lawyer was conducting his first death penalty case.