USA: Court ruling puts Troy Davis back on track for execution when doubts persist about his guilt
Amnesty International has expressed deep concern that a USA federal district court decision puts Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis back on track for execution, despite doubts about his guilt that were raised during a June evidentiary hearing.
Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn’t meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
"There must surely be significant doubt about someone's guilt when witnesses are recanting testimony and saying that someone else committed the crime.
"The bar for proving Troy Davis's innocence was set incredibly high, yet there is still far too much room for doubt. This decision puts Troy at risk of execution and like all death penalty cases, any doubt will become meaningless once his life has been taken."
Amnesty International representatives attended the hearing in Savannah, Georgia. The organisation noted that evidence continues to cast doubt over the case:
· Four witnesses admitted in court that they lied at trial when they implicated Troy Davis and that they did not know who shot Officer Mark MacPhail.
· Four witnesses implicated another man as the one who killed the officer – including a man who says he saw the shooting and could clearly identify the alternative suspect, who is a family member.
· Three original state witnesses described police coercion during questioning, including one man who was 16 years old at the time of the murder and was questioned by several police officers without his parents or other adults present.
Since the launch of its February 2007 report, "Where Is the Justice for Me? The Case of Troy Davis, Facing Execution in Georgia", Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial and clemency for Davis, collecting hundreds of thousands of clemency petition signatures and letters from across the United States and around the world. To date, internationally known figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have all joined the call for clemency, as well as lawmakers from within and outside of Georgia.