Oct 18, 2008

World - US;Dreaded attachment

Alexander Chancelor

The Bush presidency is ending its days with a flurry of fresh controversy about the death penalty, a punishment for which Bush has always shown a creepy degree of enthusiasm. Two new cases illustrate again how ghoulish and judicially flawed death sentences in America can be.

On Tuesday, Richard Cooey, 41, who had spent more than 20 years on death row, was executed in Ohio after the supreme court rejected his plea that he was too obese (at more than 125 kg) to be painlessly put to death by lethal injection. On Wednesday, the same court, in effect, gave the go-ahead for another execution when it refused to hear an appeal by Troy Davis, a 40-year-old Georgia man, after seven of nine witnesses who helped to convict him in 1991 of killing a police officer had subsequently recanted their testimony or changed their statements.

America’s dogged attachment to the death penalty in even the most dubious of circumstances is a hideous blot on its reputation for fairness and humanity that, alas, even Barack Obama has no plans to eradicate.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008

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