Amnesty vigil for Troy Davis outside US Embassy: Monday 27 October, 5pm
Campaigners’ last-ditch effort to save man set to die despite strong innocence claims
Amnesty International campaigners are mounting a candle-lit vigil for the death row prisoner Troy Davis on the evening of his scheduled execution in the US state of Georgia on Monday 27 October (from 5pm).
The campaigners, who will hold “Don’t Execute Troy Davis” banners and candles outside the embassy building in Grosvenor Square, central London, will be mounting the vigil just hours before the scheduled execution in Georgia (set for 11pm UK time). Last month Davis came within just two hours of execution on 23 September, when the US Supreme Court stepped in to block the execution.
Troy Davis, a 40-year-old black man who has been on death row for 17 years, was convicted in 1991 of the murder of a white police officer in 1989. Davis has always maintained his innocence and is facing execution despite the fact that seven out of nine people who gave damning testimony against him at his trial have later withdrawn or recanted their evidence.
Last month Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected an appeal for clemency from Davis but Amnesty supporters have been urgently contacting the board requesting that it reconsiders its decision ( www.protectthehuman.com/actions/send-a-new-email-for-troy-davis/main ).
Davis has admitted being at the scene of the shooting but has always vehemently denied shooting the policeman. No physical evidence against Davis has ever been produced, the murder weapon has never been found and the case against him at trial consisted entirely of now discredited witness testimony.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“We’re holding this vigil to send out the message that it will be an absolute outrage if the state of Georgia executes Troy Davis regardless of the massive doubts around the safety of his conviction.
“Unlike other penalties, a death sentence can’t be remedied if a mistake is made and we earnestly appeal to the Georgia authorities to recognise this, avoid the danger of a tragic miscarriage of justice and commute Davis’ sentence.”
Over the years, numerous doubts have accumulated around the safety of Davis’ conviction, with a “jailhouse informant” retracting his incriminating account of Davis’ supposed confession and several other supposed “eye-witnesses” later recanting their trial evidence while insisting they were under “a lot of pressure” from police to provide signed statements.
Several of these have later said they were pressurised by police officers into signing witness statement that they had not even read. One witness, Antoine Williams, a Burger King employee who at the trial identified Davis as the gunman, later said:
"Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn't then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read. At Troy Davis's trial, I identified him as the person who shot the officer. Even when I said that, I was totally unsure whether he was the person who shot the officer. I felt pressured to point at him because he was the one who was sitting in the courtroom. I have no idea what the person who shot the officer looks like."
Since its resumption of executions in 1977, the USA has executed over 1,100 prisoners - 43 in Georgia. Since 1973, meanwhile, 130 people have been released from death rows around the country on grounds of innocence, many of them in cases in which witness testimony has been exposed as unreliable. Numerous prisoners have gone to their deaths despite doubts about their guilt.