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NI campaigners hail release of death row Scot

Northern Ireland campaigners against the death penalty have hailed the release tonight (Monday) of Kenny Richey, a Scottish man who has spent more than 20 years on death row in Ohio, as "very welcome but painfully overdue".

Amnesty International activists in Northern Ireland have campaigned for Kenny’s release for the last ten years and tonight welcomed the Scot's first steps of freedom.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director said:

"Amnesty would like to thank its supporters in Northern Ireland for their efforts in campaigning on this case. Kenny's freedom from death row is at least partly due to that pressure.

“We’re delighted that this day has finally arrived. Kenny and his supporters have had to fight long and hard for justice and, at last , he can taste freedom.

“The death penalty is always wrong, achieving nothing but further pain. Kenny now joins the ranks of those released from America's death rows who should never have been there in the first place.

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.

Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the state of Ohio and sentenced to death on 27 January 1987. He has always protested his innocence.

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 was announced last month that a deal had been struck that would allow the Edinburgh man to be released after a brief court hearing at which he would plead “no contest”. That hearing, on 20 December, had to be postponed when Mr Richey was taken ill just hours before he was expected to walk free and return to Edinburgh in time for Christmas.

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