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Back from the dead

Kenny Richey, the Scottish man who was on death row for nearly 21 years is due to be released tonight!


Hed already won his main appeal and in a typical American legal deal, he is now pleading no contest to reduced charges of involuntary manslaughter (which he still however denies) and then hell be out of danger for the first time in over two decades. He should be back in Edinburgh by Wednesday.

Any miscarriage of justice is bad enough - but can you imagine finding yourself on death row after a shoddy trial and then finding that they mean it: theyre going to kill you?

In my view no-one should have to endure the living hell of life on death row. All justice systems are prone to make mistakes (look at the Birmingham Six and the Guilford Four) so, in addition to the death penalty being wrong in principle, its also a colossal risk. Theres no reprieve from the grave.

So, look out for coverage tonight on Kennys first hours of freedom.

Kennys release coincides with the US Supreme Court hearing arguments today about whether execution chambers in the US should be using lethal injections. Theres more and more concern that, far from being humane, prisoners being executed by lethal injection are actually suffering extreme pain.

Last year Amnesty called on all US medical personnel to stop taking part in these sham medical procedures. Now we hope that the top US court will ban these executions altogether. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, former Liberian president Charles Taylor is today back in court at The Hague facing war crimes charges. The interesting news is that the prosecution has called a blood diamond expert to the stand to explain how atrocities committed in Sierra Leone involved selling illicit diamonds for weapons used by child soldiers.

Rumours that star of Blood Diamond Leonard di Caprio is next to give expert evidence are as yet unconfirmed (!), but it is certainly important that this case goes ahead. Its the first time that a former head of state has gone before an international criminal court for crimes committed in Africa against Africans. Like the Di Caprio film, this case is one to watch.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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