International appeals to spare Tucker fail
February 3, 1998
In Italy, Karla Faye Tucker tops the news
Web posted at: 7:50 p.m. EST (0050 GMT)
(CNN) -- In executing convicted murderer Karla Faye Tucker, Texas officials Tuesday night ignored pleas for clemency from Pope John Paul II, the Italian prime minister and other world figures.
The pope had asked his envoy in Washington to relay an appeal to U.S. authorities for clemency.
"He asks for a humanitarian gesture to underline the value of human life. Only God is the lord of life and death," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a radio interview late Monday.
Italians hold Tucker vigil
Italians, staging a vigil early Tuesday for Tucker, held candles and banners saying "Clinton save Karla Tucker."
"We are here to stop the execution of Karla Tucker, who is a different person from the one who committed the murder 15 years ago," said Rome resident Gaia Rosini.
Italy has no death penalty in civilian criminal cases and is among the most vocal supporters of a total ban on capital punishment.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi said late Monday: "I am completely against the death penalty ... and clemency should be asked for in this case as in every other case."
U.N. expert makes 'urgent appeal'
Waly Bacre Ndiaye, the main U.N. expert on summary and arbitrary executions, sent an "urgent appeal" to the U.S. State Department and Texas authorities to spare Tucker, said U.N. human rights spokesman John Mills.
And the World Council of Churches appealed to top U.N. human rights official John Shattuck to intervene.
"We are convinced that hearts of stone can be replaced with hearts of flesh, and hold out the sincere hope that the
deep-seated American values of justice will prevail," the group said.
The clemency request from Pope John Paul II was the pontiff's sixth on behalf of death row inmates since 1983.
The pope last year made a similar appeal for clemency in the case of Joseph O'Dell, who was sentenced to death in Virginia in 1986 for raping and killing a woman.
Virginia authorities ignored that appeal and went ahead with O'Dell's execution by lethal injection in July 1997. His body was brought to Sicily for burial.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.