FG appeal over murderer's execution

Wednesday 03 September 2003 20.35
FG appeal over murderer's execution

Fine Gael's Spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Gay Mitchell, has written to the Governor of Florida in the US, asking him to take anti-abortionist Paul Hill off death row.

A former Presbyterian Minister, Hill was convicted of the murder of two people outside an abortion clinic in 1994.

He is due to be executed today by lethal injection. Gay Mitchell says that Hill committed a senseless crime, but that executing him only perpetuates the cycle of taking life.

For his part, Hill says that the state is making him a martyr and he is looking forward to dying for his cause.

100 death sentences commuted

Earlier today, an appeals court in the United States commuted more than 100 death sentences passed on convicted murderers in three western states.

The Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco ruled that the sentences imposed in Arizona, Idaho and Montana were unconstitutional because they had been imposed by judges, not juries.

The judgement has given fresh hope to an estimated 150 prisoners on death row, but it is likely to be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

The Co-Chairman of the American Bar Association's death penalty committee, Ron Tabak, said death row inmates were by no means in the clear because they could lose a Supreme Court appeal or get the death penalty again in any retrial.