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USA: Kenny Richey case – appeal victory welcomed and speedy release urged for death row scot

Earlier today the 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeal in Cincinnati ruled that Mr Richey's death sentence has been overturned. The federal court has instructed the state of Ohio to release Mr Richey or attempt to re-try him within 90 days.

The appeal was one of the last available appeals open to Richey, who later this week would have spent exactly 18 years on death row. Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the state of Ohio in 1986 and sentenced to death on 27 January 1987. He has been on death row since then, but has always protested his innocence.

Evidence has since emerged casting serious doubt on Mr Richey's guilt.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

"This appeal victory is hugely welcome to all of those who have believed that for 18 years Kenny Richey has been denied justice in Ohio.

"Nobody should be sent to the living hell of death row but Kenny Richey's 18-year ordeal has come after a flawed trial and serious concerns about the Ohio justice system.

"Indeed, Kenny's case was always one of the most compelling cases of apparent innocence that human rights campaigners had ever come across.

"It is astonishing that it has taken this long for Ohio to look again at Kenny's case.

"Winning the appeal is a vital step - now we want to see a speedy process that will release Kenny as soon as possible."

Clive Stafford-Smith, the leading British-born US death penalty lawyer and founder of UK anti-death penalty organisation Reprieve, said:

"In Kenny's case the UK government went further than ever before in supporting one of its nationals on death row and this is proof positive of how important this kind of intervention is.

"This is a wonderful decision in which the court effectively found that there was insufficient evidence to convict Kenny Richey of murder. We need to get him back to Scotland as quickly as possible."

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 been pressing the UK government to keep up pressure on the US authorities in line with the government's policy of opposing the death penalty in all instances.

Last year the government submitted an 'Amicus' legal briefing of its concerns to the US federal court. It also confirmed that it had drawn up a 'comprehensive lobbying strategy' over Richey's case.

The case has attracted appeals on Mr Richey's behalf from Pope John Paul II and the former Archbishop of Canterbury. In a resolution passed in June 1992, the European Parliament expressed its doubt concerning the validity of the sentence.

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