TRACY HOUSEL: DENIAL OF CLEMENCY A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE

Amnesty International UK said:

'The clemency board's decision was a travesty of justice. Even those that support the death penalty would concede that executing a brain-damaged man whose trial was inadequate by international standards is plainly wrong.

'To deny clemency in a case like Tracy Housel's is to pass up the opportunity for a justice system to correct its own mistakes.

'Georgia has failed to listen to voices of reason from all over the world, not least from influential British officials, parliamentarians and campaigners.

'Interventions from British officials have been a welcome sign of the UK government's new determination to intervene whenever a British national faces execution, yet we are still disappointed that Prime Minister Tony Blair did not feel able to raise this matter either earlier or more directly than he has.'

'Last week Amnesty International called on Mr Blair to pick up the phone and help save a British life. Unfortunately he seems to have chosen not to make that call.'

Background Last week Amnesty International UK members held a demonstration outside Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister to telephone the American authorities – the President, the Georgia Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles – to raise grave concerns surrounding the case and to ask for commutation of the sentence.

On Monday 11 March five EU consuls – from the UK, Germany, France, Greece, and Belgium – personally delivered an official protest (démarche) to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. The démarche, signed by the 15 states of the European Union, expressed serious concern that Mr Housel's trial overlooked a mass of mitigating factors including evidence of Mr Housel's brain damage.

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