42-year-old Troy Davis faces 21 September execution despite doubts over guilt
Bianca Jagger is leading a campaign on Twitter to try to help prevent the execution next week of a man on death row in the US.
Troy Davis, 42, has been on death row in the state of Georgia since 1991. Despite longstanding doubts about his guilt, his execution date has been set for 21 September.
Bianca Jagger is leading an Amnesty International campaign called “TooMuchDoubt”, based on the significant doubts over Davis’ guilt. From 1pm today (Monday 12 September) Ms Jagger is tweeting her followers with various “doubts” over the safety of Davis’ conviction (each hashtagged #TooMuchDoubt and #TroyDavis: see www.amnesty.org.uk/doubt
Bianca Jagger’s followers are being encouraged to do the same and to contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole urging it to commute the execution.
The Georgia clemency board is set to meet to decide Troy Davis’ fate on 19 September. It alone has the power to commute his sentence.
Bianca Jagger, who is the Council of Europe’s Goodwill Ambassador to abolish the Death Penalty, has campaigned against the death penalty for many years and in 2000 witnessed first-hand the execution of Gary Graham in Texas, a prisoner executed despite considerable doubts over guilt. Ms Jagger said:
“It’s a well-known international legal principle that executions must never proceed when there is serious doubt about guilt. It doesn’t get much more doubtful than Troy Davis’s case and I respectfully urge the Georgia board to commute his sentence.”
Richard Hughes, the drummer from indie-rock band Keane, is also supporting the Twitter campaign. Hughes, who has visited Troy Davis on death row, said:
“Approaching a third of a million people have already expressed their grave concerns about this case and we’re now down to just a few days to save Troy’s life. I promised him when I met him on death row that I wouldn’t stop fighting to prevent his execution and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“Amnesty is against the death penalty in all cases but even people who advocate capital punishment must surely worry about pressing ahead with an execution in a case as riven with doubt as this one.
“The always flimsy case against Troy Davis has fallen apart since his trial. No jury would now convict him and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles should avert the tragedy of sending this man to his death.”
Troy Davis was sentenced to death in August 1991 for the murder of a police officer called Mark Allen McPhail, who died after being shot in Savannah in 1989. No forensic evidence has ever linked Troy Davis to the crime and the case against him relied entirely on eyewitness evidence. Since the original trial seven out of nine of the prosecution’s witnesses have changed or recanted their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits. Meanwhile, another person has been named as the likely perpetrator by several witnesses.
In 2007 Amnesty published a report detailing a pattern of police coercion of witnesses ahead of Davis’ trial. The organisation has gathered over 300,000 signatures to a petition requesting that the Georgia authorities commute Davis’ sentence. The execution is opposed by Nobel laureates Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos Horta, and the former FBI director William Sessions has also made clear his opposition to the execution.
Note to editors:
* Last year the USA executed 46 death row inmates, a lower figure than in recent years, but still the fifth highest number of any country in the world
* Since 1973, 138 death row inmates have been released from death rows in the USA on the grounds of innocence