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Kenny Richey case: reaction to news of release

Scottish man to be released after 20 years on death row

Amnesty International UK and other anti-death penalty campaigners have welcomed today’s announcement that Kenny Richey, a Scottish man on death row in Ohio, is to be released.

Mr Richey had been preparing to mount a defence in a forthcoming retrial following a federal court decision in August that his 1987 capital conviction was unsound and should be overturned. Instead, it has been announced that a deal has been struck allowing the Edinburgh man to be released in the next few days.

Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the state of Ohio and sentenced to death on 27 January 1987. He has been on death row since then - over 20 years - but has always protested his innocence.

Today’s news means that Mr Richey is likely to be released in days and to back in Britain shortly afterwards.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This is really wonderful news and we’re delighted for Kenny and his family and supporters.

“The death penalty is always a human rights outrage, achieving nothing but suffering and injustice, and in this case Kenny suffered from particularly shoddy justice.

“Kenny Richey’s 20-year ordeal came after a flawed trial and serious concerns about the Ohio justice system. He now joins the ranks of those released from American death row prisons when they should never have been there in the first place.

“Going forward, we hope that Kenny can rebuild his life - he should get all the support he needs to help him do this.”

Mr Richey, who has a Scottish mother and grew up in Edinburgh, is also the subject of a longstanding campaign from a Scottish anti-death penalty campaigner, Karen Torley. Ms Torley said:

“I’m really overjoyed at today’s news. It’s been an incredibly long fight for justice but we’re finally seeing some semblance of that.

“On the one hand it’s frustrating that Kenny has been denied his day in court to fully clear his name, but on the other it’s a fantastic moment and represents vindication for Kenny.

“It was always a disgrace that the Ohio justice system found Kenny guilty in the way it did - and totally shocking that they put him on death row then fought tooth and nail to keep him there.

“I always had full confidence in Kenny’s innocence - and with today’s news the Ohio authorities have effectively accepted that they never had a case in the first place.

“Along with his family I’ll be planning a ‘welcome home to Scotland’ party for Kenny. He has a lot of life to catch up on.”

For several years Amnesty International has been urging the Ohio state authorities to allow Kenny Richey the opportunity to have fresh evidence heard. It has also repeatedly asked the UK government to maintain pressure on the US authorities in line with the government’s policy of opposing the death penalty in all instances. In 2004 the government confirmed that it has a “comprehensive lobbying strategy” over Richey’s case.

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