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Mexico to Texas on convicted cop killer: Don't execute our citizen

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Elwyn Lopez, CNN
updated 3:35 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Defense attorneys are expected to present oral arguments Tuesday
  • Edgar Tamayo Arias is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Wednesday
  • Mexico's government says the execution would violate international law
  • Tamayo was convicted in the 1994 killing of a Houston police officer

Read this story in Spanish at CNNMexico.com

(CNN) -- Mexico's government is trying to block the execution of a convicted cop killer in Texas this week, arguing that it would violate international law.

The case of Mexican citizen Edgar Tamayo Arias is the latest battle in a dispute over the rights of the foreign-born on American death rows. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said it could put Americans abroad at risk.

Tamayo, 46, was convicted in the 1994 murder of a Houston police officer, whom he shot three times in the back of the head, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

His attorneys are scheduled to present oral arguments Tuesday, calling for a preliminary injunction to stop the state's governor and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles from considering Tamayo's clemency petition until the process is "adequate and fair," read a statement from his team.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that going ahead with Arias' execution by injection, scheduled for Wednesday, would violate international law because Tamayo wasn't advised of his right to receive consular assistance.

This isn't the first time Mexico has stepped in to try to stop the execution of one of its citizens.

Mexican officials made similar arguments -- unsuccessfully -- before executions in 2008 and 2011.

"The Mexican government is opposed to the death penalty and has decided to use the necessary resources to protect its citizens who are in danger of receiving this sentence," the ministry said.

Kerry has also weighed in on Tamayo's case, arguing that setting an execution date is "extremely detrimental to the interests of the United States."

"I want to be clear: I have no reason to doubt the facts of Mr. Tamayo's conviction, and as a former prosecutor, I have no sympathy for anyone who would murder a police officer," Kerry wrote. "This is a process issue I am raising because it could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries."

In a response to Kerry, Texas Deputy Attorney General Don Clemmer said he would meet with representatives from the Justice Department and the State Department over the matter.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the treaty that lays out rights of people detained in other nations, in the cases of dozens of Mexican nationals. The judges ordered the United States to provide "review and reconsideration" of the sentences and convictions of those Mexican prisoners as a result.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry argues that hasn't happened in Tamayo's case.

It's a case Tamayo's lawyer had made as well in attempts to stay his execution.

"The Mexican Foreign minister, the U.S. Secretary of State, evangelical and Latino leaders, former Texas Gov. Mark White and legal and international organizations have called on the The Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles and Gov. (Rick) Perry to halt the execution of Mr. Tamayo based on the violation of his consular rights, yet the Texas Board of Pardons has refused to even meet to discuss Mr. Tamayo's clemency petition," attorney Sandra Babcock said in a statement.

"Mr. Tamayo was never informed of his treaty rights at the time of his arrest, and no court has agreed to review that treaty violation and the consequences that it had for his conviction and sentence," she told CNN affiliate KTRK.

Prosecutors have disputed that argument.

"Since 1994, this case has gone to all the courts that it can possibly go to -- the state courts, the federal courts," Roe Wilson, assistant district attorney in Harris County, Texas, told KTRK. "It has been reviewed."

CNN's Gustavo Valdes, Nick Parker, Bill Mears and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.

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