Oklahoma Governor Refuses Clemency Request for Mexican Death Row Inmate

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Saturday, September 1, 2001
Bruce Zagaris
On July 20, 2001, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating refused to stay the execution of a Mexican convicted of murder who at the time of his arrest, trial and appeal was not advised of his right under the Vienna Consular Convention to contact his embassy. The case is being closely watched by foreign governments, death penalty lawyers, and international human rights advocates. Responding to President Vicente Fox of Mexico, who had personally urged the commutation of the sentence, Mr. Keating acknowledged that the failure of Oklahoma officials to advise the inmate, Gerardo Valdez, of his right to contact Mexican diplomats was a “clear violation” of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights, which the U.S. has ratified. Keating wrote that this violation, “while regretful and inexcusable does not in and of itself establish clearly discernible prejudice or that a different conclusion would have been reached at trial or on appeal of Mr. Valdez’s conviction or sentence…[more]