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Archive for Saturday, May 8, 2004

State panel advises clemency for Mexican set to die

World court: Convicts’ rights were violated

May 8, 2004

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— Under pressure from the world court, an Oklahoma board Friday recommended the governor spare the life of a death row inmate from Mexico who claimed he was denied his right to contact his consulate after his arrest.

Osbaldo Torres, 29, is slated to be put to death by injection May 18 for the slaying of an Oklahoma City couple during a burglary in 1993.

Gov. Brad Henry's office said in a statement that he would "give this case the thorough deliberation it deserves."

Torres is one of 51 Mexicans on death row across the country who were cited in a March 31 ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands. The world court said their rights were violated because they were not told they could receive help from their governments as guaranteed by the 1963 Vienna Convention.

Torres is the first Mexican on death row to seek relief under the world court ruling.

In a 3-2 decision, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency.

Susan B. Loving, chairwoman of the board, said Torres' rights under the Vienna Convention were violated. She said the board would let a higher authority determine what bearing the world court ruling has on Torres' case.

"We'll let the governor make this decision," she said.

The Mexican government called on the governor to accept the board's recommendation and grant clemency.

Torres and a second man were convicted in 1996 in the deaths of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez. The couple were shot as they lay in bed in their home.

Torres' attorneys argued that he and his family were not told they could contact the Mexican consulate. Torres' parents illegally crossed from Mexico into the United States in the mid-1980s.

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