Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2001

World Court backs Germans’ claim over U.S. execution

June 28, 2001

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— The United States violated the rights of Germany and two of its citizens when it denied the condemned brothers access to their consulate before executing them in 1999 for murder, the World Court ruled Wednesday.

The U.N. court also found that its order to the U.S. government to postpone the execution which was ignored by the state of Arizona was not merely a request but a legal obligation.

Karl and Walter LaGrand were executed in Arizona for stabbing to death a 63-year-old bank manager in the town of Marana during a botched robbery in 1982. Another employee was seriously injured.

The German consulate learned of the case 10 years later in 1992, when the brothers already had gone through a series of appeals in U.S. courts.

Karl LaGrand, 35, received a lethal injection on Feb. 24, 1999. On March 3, the day before Walter LaGrand's scheduled execution, Germany filed its case in the World Court and the court asked the U.S. government to delay the execution until it could consider the case.

Gilbert Guillaume, president of the United Nations court formally known as the International Court of Justice said the U.S. efforts to stay Walter LaGrand's execution were "certainly less than should have been done."

The court's verdict is binding and not subject to appeal, but the World Court has no independent means to enforce compliance. If one side feels the other has failed to live up to a court ruling, it can ask the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions.

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