UK: Sister Helen Prejean joins campaign for death row Scot Kenny Richey

Renowned US anti-death penalty campaigner and author Sister Helen Prejean has joined forces with Amnesty International and other campaigners to press for justice for Kenny Richey, a Scottish man on death row in the USA.

Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the US state of Ohio in 1986 and sentenced to death in January 1987. He has now been on death row for 19 years but has always protested his innocence.

Since his conviction evidence has emerged casting serious doubt on Mr Richey’s guilt.

Sister Helen, whose best-selling book Dead Man Walking has done much to raise the issue of the injustice of the death penalty in the US, has now spoken out about Mr Richey’s plight.

Sister Helen was speaking ahead of a special Amnesty International ‘Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights Against The Death Penalty’ event tonight, which will also feature British campaigner Karen Torley, Kenny Richey’s fiancée.

Sister Helen said:

“Kenny Richey's case is one more tragic example of the flawed, politicised death penalty system in the United States.

“In Kenny Richey's case effective defense counsel was miserably lacking at his trial.

“Yet so far no appeals court will acknowledge this abuse of his constitutional right and order a new trial. “I am proud to stand alongside Karen Torley who has been such a steadfast force in seeking justice for Kenny Richey.�

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen, who has visited Kenny Richey on death row, said:

“Sister Helen’s magnificent campaigning on the death penalty has been an inspiration to thousands of people around the world and her involvement in Kenny Richey’s case can only help this man achieve some measure of justice.�

The event, being held tonight at Amnesty International UK’s Human Rights Action Centre in east London, will also feature speeches from two Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are campaigning against the highly secretive use of the death penalty in Uzbekistan.

Tamara Chikunova, head of Mothers Against The Death Penalty And Torture in Uzbekistan, has campaigned against capital punishment in the country since her 28-year-old son Dmitry was executed despite allegations that he was tortured into a false confession.

Fellow campaigner Dilobar Khudoberganova is raising the case of her brother, Iskandar, who has been on death row since 2002. There are allegations that he was similarly tortured into a false confession.

Sister Helen and fellow campaigners will be signing a new 16,000-strong petition to the governments of Uzbekistan and Belarus calling on them to abolish the death penalty in those countries.

Find out more about our campaign against the death penalty...

Listen online to an interview with Sister Helen on opendemocracy.net /b>

Notes:

Sister Helen Prejean’s new publication, The Death Of Innocents (published in the UK in January 2006) is the follow-up to the best-selling 1993 book Dead Man Walking, which formed the basis of the Oscar-winning film directed by Tim Robbins and starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.

The Death of Innocents tells the story of two men - Dobie Williams in Louisiana and Joseph O'Dell in Virginia - whom Sister Helen believes were innocent of the crimes for which they were nevertheless executed.

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