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Error Found in Death Row Case

THE NATION

June 14, 2001|From Reuters

OKLAHOMA CITY — Lawyers advising Oklahoma's governor on whether to commute the death sentence of a Mexican citizen have acknowledged that the condemned man's international treaty rights were violated, officials said Wednesday.

But Gov. Frank Keating has not yet decided whether to spare the life of Gerardo Valdez, 41, scheduled to die Tuesday for the 1989 killing of a man who made homosexual advances toward him, said Keating's spokesman, Phil Bachrach. There was no indication when he would decide.

The Mexican government urged Keating in a letter this week to commute Valdez's sentence to life because he was never advised of his right, guaranteed under the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights, to contact the Mexican consulate for help.

The convention, which also applies to U.S. citizens abroad, says people charged with crimes outside their home countries have the right to contact their consulate immediately.

Bachrach said the U.S. State Department has advised the governor's law office that the treaty violation should be weighed against the nature of the crime in deciding whether to commute Valdez's death sentence.

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