Death Penalty

Texas carries out 400th execution

The state of Texas has carried out its 400th execution since the restoration of the death penalty in 1976 despite last-ditch appeals by 40 countries, including every member state of the European Union.

Johnny Ray Conner, 32, a father of two, was executed by lethal injection late last night for shooting dead Kathy Ann Nguyen, 49, a convenience store worker during a hold-up on May 17, 1998. He always denied carrying out the shooting.

The execution came hours after Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, had told protesting nations that the US had fought for its independence in order to determine its own laws and punishments.

As he lay strapped to the execution chair Conner, 32, said: “What is happening to me now is unjust and the system is broken."

With the family of Nguyen watching on, he added: "Please forgive me," before concluding a three-minute statement by saying: "I bear witness there is no God but Allah and the Prophet Mohammed. Unto Allah, I belong, unto Allah I return. I love you."

The carrying out of Conner's execution came after a failed campaign by countries opposed to the death penalty.

A spokesman for Mr Perry that Texas's decision to adopt the death penalty was one of the southern State's most fundamental rights.

"Texans long ago decided the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens," he said.

"Two hundred and thirty years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. While we respect our friends in Europe, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas."

Texas, the state with the highest number of executions in the US since 1976, plans a further three executions this month.

A spokesman for Portugal, which holds the EU's rotating Presidency, said that Conner’s execution was chosen to highlight the EU’s opposition to the death penalty because it was a macabre milestone, and denied that it amounted to interference in another country’s affairs.

He added: "Texas has said it can run Texas just fine - we take note. But as far as the death penalty goes, we have a principled opposition and that applies to everyone. It is not undue interference with internal affairs."

(Published by Times Online, August 23, 2007)


latest top stories

subscribe |  contact us |  sponsors |  migalhas in portuguese |  migalhas latinoamérica