Troy Davis executed in US

2011-09-22 08:01
Jackson - The execution of Troy Davis capped a day of anguish on Wednesday for supporters gathered outside the state prison in Jackson, Georgia, amid frustration from the family of the policeman he was convicted of killing.

As the news arrived of the US Supreme Court's rejection of a last-ditch stay of execution, the crowd here fell silent, weary from a day of rallying.

Family members huddled and wept, against a backdrop of hundreds of armed police officers in riot gear.

Supporters led by family members and anti-death penalty groups had spent hours angrily chanting and praying for a miracle as the original execution time of 19:00 (23:00 GMT) came and went - a candle-lit vigil meanwhile at the US Supreme Court in Washington called on the justices to stay the punishment.

The nine justices' rejection order came just after 22:30 (02:30 GMT).

"It's a moment when your heart breaks, when the justice of a nation has deeply disappointed millions of people in the world," Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told reporters.

'May well be innocent'

Police who had earlier descended near the supporters sirens blaring, in an apparent show of force, blocked in the supporters as police helicopters circled above, while the Troy Davis family prayed during his final minutes.

In the final hours of high drama, supporters erupted in cheers outside the Jackson, Georgia state prison but resorted to quiet confusion and back to hopeful chanting as doubt clouded Davis's fate.

It emerged the top US court had not issued a reprieve but rather a delay to consider their latest appeal.

Larry Cox, executive director of rights group Amnesty International said in a statement the justice system "was shaken to its core" as Georgia executed a man "who may well be innocent."

"Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific, and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system," he said.

Anguish from Davis's family and friends outside the prison came alongside frustration from the family of Mark MacPhail, the off-duty policeman Davis was convicted of killing.

His mother Anneliese MacPhail told CNN she was "absolutely devastated" by the delay, saying his guilt was clear from the evidence she had seen and experience in all court appearances she has attended over the two decades.

Martina Correria, Davis's wheelchair-bound sister, made a symbolic statement in the build-up to the execution, telling reporters "I'm here to tell you that I'm going to stand here for my brother today," as she rose up from her chair.

"This is an outrage. No one can execute a man with no physical evidence... only on eye(witness) testimony," said Al Sharpton, a veteran civil rights campaigner.

Pastor Raphael Warnock, who had been counselling the family here, told CNN the drawn out decision meant they were watching "a civil rights violation and a human rights violation in the worst way unfold before our very eyes.

As Davis's fourth execution date weighed on his head, as well as family and supporters, Warnock decried it as "cruel and unusual punishment," adding: "America can do much better than this."

On the lawn by the prison entrance, mostly African American protesters were cordoned off in yellow tape in an area forbidden to reporters.

Racially charged case

Earlier the crowd reach their arms toward the sky, chanting, singing and yelled: "Justice for Troy Davis," "Stop the execution," and "Free Troy Davis" as last-minute appeals were rejected one by one, building up to the time he was to be put to death by lethal injection.

Many of the supporters wore T-shirts bearing his image and held signs reading "Save Troy Davis," "I Am Troy Davis," "Don't let the blood be on your hands," and "This is death row, we say hell no."

"What do you have to lose? Why are you so afraid of the outcome of the truth? Why are you so anxious that he has to die?" asked Sharpton.

Across the street from the prison, another 200 people gathered to pray in a small church.

A Georgia parole board's denial of clemency for Davis on Monday appeared to seal his fate, despite a flurry of 11th-hour motions, after years of legal challenges that have put in question eyewitness testimony used to convict the 42-year-old African American in 1991 for the slaying of a white police officer two years earlier.

The racially charged case has galvanised international protests against the US death penalty.

Pastor Vizion Jones shouted to the crowd: "There are people in Paris, there are people in Africa, there are people all over the world [and] they'll see us kill him."

"It's about justice, not about colour," he added.

Among those who have come out against the execution are Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI and former US president and ex-Georgia governor Jimmy Carter.

- SAPA
Read more on:    amnesty international  |  al sharpton  |  desmond tutu  |  troy davis  |  us
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