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Keane musician bangs the drum for death row prisoner in Georgia, USA

Richard Hughes says case of death row inmate Troy Davis is ‘terrifying illustration’ of why death penalty is wrong

A musician from best-selling rock band Keane is to accompany Amnesty International on a visit to a prisoner on death row in Georgia, USA to help highlight what is widely believed to be a miscarriage of justice. Follow his journey

Richard Hughes, 34, Keane’s highly-regarded drummer, is visiting Troy Davis, 40, on death row at the Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, in the US state of Georgia on Saturday 26 September. Mr Davis, who has always protested his innocence, has been on death row since 1991. Last year Mr Davis came within two hours of execution, but last month the US Supreme Court ruled that he should be allowed a new hearing to establish his innocence.

Troy Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing a police officer called Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia in 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.

Sign our petition for Troy Davis /p>

Richard Hughes said:

“I am totally against the death penalty, and the case of Troy Davis is a terrifying illustration of the reasons why.

“Troy is very likely innocent, yet has been on the brink of execution, only last-minute reprieves keeping him alive. He continues to fight for the chance to prove his innocence.

“I am going to Georgia with Amnesty International to meet this remarkable man and his family; to show my support for him; and to try to shine a little light on his case and the terrible effects of continuing to execute people in the name of justice.”

Richard Hughes will be visiting death row with Amnesty International UK death penalty campaigner Kim Manning Cooper, and Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish MP and chair of the UK parliamentary group for the abolition of the death penalty.

Kim Manning Cooper said:

“Even those who don’t agree with Amnesty’s stance in opposing all executions ought to be shocked by this case. But the tide may now be turning and it’s heartening to see support for Troy growing all the time.

“We want as many people as possible to sign our petition on behalf of Troy Davis. It’s vital that the Georgia authorities know how strongly people feel about Troy’s plight.”

Alistair Carmichael said:

“This will be my second visit to death row in the United States - the other being for the Scotsman Kenny Richey in 2004. He was later released from prison and I sincerely hope that soon I'll be able to say the same about Troy Davis.

“The case against Mr Davis is fundamentally unsound. For the Georgia authorities to rely on it for the basis of an execution would be a negation of any notion of justice. In such an event I would certainly seek to secure the firmest possible protest from the UK government.”

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 37 executions (the fourth highest number of any country in the world), four of which were in Georgia

* To date in 2009 there have already been 39 executions (an average of one a week), two of these in Georgia

* Troy Davis is one of 109 inmates (108 men, one woman) on death row in Georgia

* Since 1976 the USA has executed 1,175 people

* From 1973 to the present 135 people have been released from death row on the grounds of innocence - on average there have been three exonerations per year

* Some 3,300 prisoners remain on death row in the USA

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