USA: Kenny Richey case - fresh call for justice as Scottish man reaches 17 years on death row
On this 'anniversary' the two organisations are drawing attention to serious questions about the fairness of 39-year-old Kenny Richey's trial and the safety of his conviction. He was convicted of arson and murder committed in the state of Ohio in 1986 and sentenced to death on 27 January 1987. He has been on death row since then.
Evidence has since emerged casting serious doubt on Mr Richey's guilt. This evidence appears to have been accepted by the state, which nevertheless intends to press ahead with the execution process.
Amnesty International and Reprieve are urging the Ohio state authorities to allow Kenny Richey the opportunity to have this fresh evidence heard. This may mean that his case is re-tried, that he is accorded a new evidentiary hearing or a re-sentencing hearing is allowed.
The human rights organisations are also pressing the UK government to support Mr Richey's case in line with the government's policy of opposing the death penalty in all instances.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'We don't believe that anyone should be sent to the living hell of death row but Kenny Richey's seventeen-year ordeal comes after a flawed trial and serious concerns about the Ohio justice system.
'Quite simply, Kenny's case is one of the most compelling cases of apparent innocence that human rights campaigners have ever come across.'
Reprieve Director Andie Lambe said:
'Kenny can never get back the 17 years he has lost fighting for his life on death row. Our aim, however, is to highlight the obvious injustice of this case before Kenny becomes the third Briton executed in the US since 2002.'
Mr Richey, who has a Scottish mother and grew up in Edinburgh, has also married a Scottish woman and leading campaigner on his case, Karen Richey. Ms Richey said:
'Without doubt Kenny Richey's conviction and death sentence is a travesty of justice.
'The fact that after 17 years on death row awaiting execution he is prepared to die an innocent man rather than live as a convicted killer, surely emphasises the principled nature of his earlier decision to refuse a plea-bargain to save his life.'
Expressing his feelings at now having spent seventeen years on death row, Kenny Richey himself said:
'Another year of my life lost: another year of injustice, another year of pain and misery, of watching my life slipping away from me. Another year of a nightmare from which I just cannot seem to awake.'
Kenny Richey is still awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeal in Cincinatti, which heard his appeal in May last year. The appeal was one of the last available appeals open to Mr Richey.
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. Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP has recently called on fellow members of the European Parliament to support a petition to the Ohio State authorities not to execute Mr Richey. Relevant information
More about Amnesty International's campaign against the death penalty... Reprieve's web site:
Kenny Richey Campaign's web site: