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Old 04-08-2004, 12:18 AM
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Default MSP appeal to save death row Scot

MSP appeal to save death row Scot
Kenny Richey
Kenny Richey is the only British citizen on death row
First Minister Jack McConnell has been asked to help save a Scot from execution in the US.

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill is tabling a Scottish parliamentary motion calling on Mr McConnell to back an appeal to save Kenny Richey's life.

Edinburgh-born Richey has maintained his innocence since being convicted of arson and the aggravated murder of a child in a fire in Ohio in 1986.

He has been on death row for 18 years after refusing a plea-bargain.

Standing firm

If Richey had taken the plea he would have been paroled more than a decade ago.

But he refuses to admit to the crime and has maintained his innocence.

In the past he has told the BBC: "I'm innocent and I'm gonna stand by that and I'll stand by that until the day they kill me."

Ms McNeill wants Mr McConnell to urge Westminster and Prime Minister Tony Blair to make "direct and robust representations" to the US authorities on Richey's behalf.

There are a number of key pieces of evidence which have emerged which tend to suggest that they might undermine the original conviction
Pauline McNeill
More than 100 MPs have already signed an Commons motion backing Richey's appeal.

Last month, junior Foreign Office minister Chris Mullin said the UK authorities were doing everything possible to prevent his execution.

The vow came after Mr Blair promised those campaigning to prove Richey's innocence that he would look into the Scot's case.

Ms McNeill, the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin and convener of the Scottish Parliament's justice committee, said: "The new evidence in Kenny Richey's case seems persuasive and I believe he should be given the chance to present it in court.

"There are a number of key pieces of evidence which have emerged which tend to suggest that they might undermine the original conviction.

New evidence

"Tony Blair and his ministers have a lot of popular support in the US.

"They should take advantage of that opportunity to support Kenny's case.

"What I'm simply doing is assisting Amnesty International and highlighting the case in Scotland.

"It's about highlighting the importance of the case to Scots and ensuring the Scottish Parliament are aware that there is a Scot on death row in Ohio."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The first minister is aware the Foreign Office is dealing with this and it is not appropriate to comment any further"

Final decision

A US court of appeal is expected to make a final decision on 7 May about whether Richey should face execution.

Amnesty International is urging the Ohio state authorities to allow Richey's death sentence appeal in the light of new evidence.

In February, Amnesty UK director Kate Allen visited Mr Richey at the Mansfield Correctional Facility, Ohio, to find him shackled to the floor.

After the visit, she said: "His case is one of the most compelling of apparent innocence that human rights campaigners have ever seen."

Amnesty said 113 prisoners had been released from death row in the US since 1973 after evidence emerged of their innocence

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