A judge in Denver has refused a request to delay further the execution of Timothy McVeigh opening the way for the Oklahoma bomber to die by lethal injection on Monday.
In the decision that surprised most observers, the US district judge Richard Matsch said yesterday that he had seen nothing to lead him to order a second stay of execution.
McVeigh's execution, which was originally set for 16 May, has already been postponed.
Lawyers for McVeigh, 33, whose bomb killed 168 people in 1995, announced that they would appeal against the decision. They have several options, ending with the Supreme Court, where they can take their arguments. It is understood that McVeigh, who said in December that he would not appeal against his death sentence, told his lawyers to proceed with an appeal if Judge Matsch ruled against them.
Rob Nigh, for McVeigh, said: "We are extremely disappointed in the court's ruling today." McVeigh's lawyers had argued before the district court in Denver, Colorado, that recently-uncovered documents revealed the involvement of other people in the 1995 bombing. They said they needed time to examine the 4,000 or more papers.
But Judge Matsch, who presided over McVeigh's 1997 trial, said there was nothing to lead him to doubt McVeigh's guilt, and no reason postpone his execution.
He said: "As the 12 jurors believe [the verdict] is justified under all circumstances ... whatever may in time be discovered about the possible involvement of others does not change the fact that Timothy McVeigh was the instrument of death and destruction."
Judge Matsch said it was clear that McVeigh was at war with the United States government "but the US government is not some abstraction, not some alien force. It is the American people, people in the [bombed] Murrah building who were in there to service their fellow American people."
Doris Jones, whose pregnant daughter was among those who died, said: "I was expecting to have to wait a while longer. I am ready for this to be over with. It has been six years and we need to come to a point ... We need this behind us."
The US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who postponed McVeigh's execution after it was revealed that the FBI had failed to pass on all the documents relating to the case to the bomber's lawyers, said the decision was a "ruling for justice". He said: "Today our justice system exercised its responsibility in a way that reinforces justice."
In their argument before the court, McVeigh's lawyers said that some of the documents referred to people other than McVeigh, and an accomplice named Terry Nichols, who is serving life imprisonment. Such a claim supports the findings of an investigation by The Independent that revealed McVeigh was almost certainly part of a wider conspiracy.
The citation read: "The fraud pointed to by the evidence thus far known to counsel for Mr McVeigh is that the government misled the court concerning the persons responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.
"Counsel believes that the government at least some FBI agents knew that other people in addition to Mr McVeigh and Mr Nichols were responsible for the bombing."
McVeigh's lawyers are filing an appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.Reuse content