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U.S. opposes Garza execution stay

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department filed court documents Monday opposing a stay of execution for federal prisoner Juan Raul Garza.

Garza is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection June 19 at the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana. Government lawyers filed their opposition to the stay and to further Garza appeals in federal court in Indianapolis.

Garza was sentenced to death on three counts of capital murder. His execution date is eight days after the new date set for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

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Garza's execution had originally been set for last August, but was delayed until December by then-President Clinton to give the condemned man time to seek clemency under new government rules.

In December, Clinton announced another six-month delay to allow the Justice Department time to examine possible racial, ethnic and geographic bias in federal death sentencing. That delay, combined with McVeigh's December decision not to seek further appeals, pushed McVeigh ahead of Garza on the execution schedule.

The government urged a federal judge to dismiss Garza's attempt to seek another round of appeals based on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' conclusion that Garza's rights were violated under international law.

Garza was convicted in August 1993 in Brownsville, Texas, of killing three men between 1990 and 1991. A 10-count indictment also named Garza as the boss of a drug ring that imported tons of marijuana into the United States between 1983 and 1993.

The commission said Garza's rights were violated by the introduction of evidence during the capital punishment phase of his trial, which dealt with four unadjudicated murders in Mexico that the government said were committed by Garza or committed at his behest.

Of the 20 federal death row prisoners, Garza and McVeigh are the only ones for whom execution dates have been set.

Attorney General John Ashcroft Friday announced McVeigh's execution, set for Wednesday, was delayed until June 11 to allow time for lawyers to examine more than 3,000 pages of newly discovered FBI documents from the investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, in which 168 people died.



RELATED STORIES:
Clinton postpones federal execution for six months
December 7, 2000

RELATED SITES:
U.S. Department of Justice
 •Attorney General John Ashcroft
Death Penalty Information Center
Focus on the Death Penalty -- University of Alaska, Anchorage


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