Bush clears the way for execution of trafficker

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The Independent US

George Bush denied clemency yesterday to Juan Raul Garza, a Mexican-born drug-smuggler and murderer, clearing the last obstacle to his execution today. His two outstanding appeals to the US Supreme Court had been rejected earlier in the day.

Garza, 44, will be put to death by lethal injection in the same chamber at the same prison at Terre Haute in Indiana where the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was executed last week. McVeigh was the first federal prisoner to be executed since 1962. Most executions are conducted under the laws of individual states.

Garza had originally been set to die last year, but his execution was delayed by President Clinton pending the results of an investigation into whether the disproportionate number of blacks and ethnic minorities on Death Row reflected injustice in the system.

Lawyers for Garza, who was born in Mexico and is technically a dual national, had hoped that his life might be spared on a legal technicality. The Mexican authorities had written to the US Justice Department, saying they had never received a formal request for Garza's extradition and would not have extradited him to America if they had known he would face the death penalty.