42-year-old executed despite huge response to ‘Too Much Doubt’ campaign
Campaigners have expressed their shock and sadness at the execution of Troy Davis in the US state of Georgia early this morning.
Troy Davis, 42, was executed by lethal injection soon after midnight UK time (7pm Wednesday, US time), despite significant doubts over the safety of his original conviction.
The execution went ahead despite a high-profile “Too Much Doubt” campaign, with over one million people worldwide signing a petition to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles calling for them to intervene to prevent the execution. Amnesty International and other campaigners had held vigils around the world as the execution approached, including outside the US embassy in London.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“I’m outraged and deeply saddened by this.
“The eyes of the world were on Georgia as they committed this affront to justice.
“Amnesty is against the death penalty in all circumstances but there was always far too much doubt to even think about executing Troy.
“It was a terrible day for the family of Mark Allen MacPhail back in 1989, but nothing useful has been achieved by taking away the life of another man, except creating further suffering and pain for another family.
“Tonight Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and discredited the US justice system.
“Our campaign against the death penalty will continue, both in the USA and around the world. In Troy’s own words, ‘The struggle with justice doesn’t end with me, this struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me’.”
Davis had been on death row for over 20 years - since being convicted in August 1991 of the killing of an off-duty policeman called Mark Allen MacPhail, who was shot in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. He had always protested his innocence and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.
Since his trial seven out of nine prosecution witnesses had recanted or changed their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits and in 2007 Amnesty International published a report detailing a pattern of police coercion of witnesses ahead of Davis’ trial. Meanwhile, ten people pointed to one of the remaining witnesses as the actual killer.
Before tonight Davis has already had three different execution dates and in September 2008 he was only two hours away from being executed before the Supreme Court intervened to stay it.
Note to editors:
* Troy Davis’ execution was opposed by the Nobel laureates Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos Horta; Bianca Jagger, the Council of Europe’s Goodwill Ambassador on the Death Penalty; and the former FBI director William Sessions also made clear his opposition to the execution.
* Last year the USA executed 46 death row inmates, a lower figure than in recent years, but still the fifth highest number of any country in the world. Over 3,200 prisoners are currently on death row in the USA.
* Since 1973, 138 death row prisoners have been released from death row in the USA on the grounds of innocence.