Keane drummer says he is 'rooting for Troy' ahead of USA death row man's key legal hearing
Richard Hughes, the drummer from best-selling rock band Keane, has spoken today of how he’s hoping that a man on death row in the USA will be released after a key legal hearing due to start later this week (Wednesday 23 June).
Hughes, 34, Keane’s highly-regarded drummer, was speaking about Troy Davis, 41, a man who has been on death row in the US state of Georgia since 1991. On Wednesday Davis’ lawyers will present information to an “evidentiary hearing” (which is not a trial), a long-sought-after opportunity for him show that his original capital trial was flawed.
In 2008 Davis came within two hours of execution, but in 2009 the US Supreme Court ruled that he should be allowed a new hearing to establish his innocence. The drummer, who is a staunch supporter of Amnesty International and campaigns against the death penalty, made the remarks ahead of Keane’s concert in Glasgow, the latest date in their sell-out tour. Richard Hughes said:
“I’m really rooting for Troy. Lawyers and non-lawyers alike can see he had a shockingly unfair trial and has spent the best years of his life waiting to be executed. “Now, after a long struggle and incredible fortitude, and after three reprieves from scheduled execution dates, he’s finally getting this chance to prove his innocence. “In my view the cruelty of the death penalty can never be justified, and in Troy’s case seven eyewitnesses have changed their story since the trial. If there’s any justice in the world, Troy will be a free man later this year.” Last year Hughes visited Davis on death row at the Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, as part of an Amnesty International delegation to the prison. The delegation also included Alistair Carmichael MP, chair of the UK parliamentary group for the abolition of the death penalty. Richard Hughes added: “If it wasn’t for my day job with Keane I’d like nothing better than to be back in Georgia campaigning for Troy with his amazing family and hundreds of other supporters.” Amnesty has pressed for a re-examination of Davis’ case but is warning that the legal bar for this hearing is set very high - not least as it requires Davis to “prove” his innocence rather than a court to prove him guilty. Davis was convicted of killing off-duty policeman Mark Allen MacPhail, who was shot in Savannah, Georgia on 19 August 1989. However, the authorities failed to produce a murder weapon or any physical evidence linking Davis to the crime, and seven of nine witnesses against him later recanted or changed their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits. Davis has always protested his innocence. Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, irrespective of the crimes and issues of innocence or guilt. Note to editors
Amnesty International will be staging an “I am Troy Davis” solidarity event outside the US embassy in London on 22 June (5-7pm) as part of its global “Day of action” for Davis. Amnesty supporters around the world will be holding similar events in various cities. Death row in the USA: some key facts
* Georgia is one of 35 US states to retain the death penalty
* The USA has seen a fall in the number of executions in recent years, but it still executes dozens of people every year - last year there were 52 executions (the fifth highest number of any country in the world), three of which were in Georgia
* To date in 2010 there have already been 29 executions in the USA (an average of one every six days); one of these has been in Georgia
* Troy Davis is one of 107 inmates (106 men, one woman) on death row in Georgia
* Since 1976 the USA has executed 1,217 people; 47 of these have been in Georgia
* From 1973 to the present 138 people have been released from death rows in the USA on the grounds of innocence - on average there have been three exonerations per year; five of these have occurred in the state of Georgia
* Some 3,200 prisoners remain on death row in the USA