Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Chi Execution

The Chi Execution

In the New York Times, David Stout reports, "Texas Executes Inmate After High Court Steps Aside."

An Honduran immigrant convicted of murder was put to death in Texas on Thursday evening after the Supreme Court declined to block the execution, despite his lawyers’ complaints that he should have been told that he could get assistance early on from Honduran diplomats.

The court’s ruling came without dissent and without comment.

The immigrant, Heliberto Chi, 29, was executed in Huntsville, Tex., for shooting to death his former boss during a robbery at a men’s store in Arlington in 2001.

Mr. Chi’s execution is the second one this week with diplomatic implications. On Tuesday night, Texas executed José Medellín, a Mexican national, in defiance of an international court ruling and despite pleas from the Bush administration that he be given a new hearing. The Supreme Court declined to block that execution earlier on Tuesday.

"Illegal immigrant from Honduras executed in Texas," is Mike Graczyk's AP filing.

On Thursday, the high court rejected Chi's appeal without dissent, ruling about 2 1/2 hours before his scheduled execution time.

Unlike Medellin, executed for participating in the gruesome gang rape and murders of two teenage Houston girls 15 years ago, Chi was not among some 50 death row inmates around the country, all Mexican-born, whom the International Court of Justice said should have new hearings in U.S. courts to determine whether the 1963 Vienna Convention treaty was violated during their arrests.

President Bush asked states to review those cases and legislation to implement the process was introduced recently in Congress, but the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year neither the president nor the international court could force Texas to wait.

Chi's attorneys argued that unlike the Vienna Convention obligations with Mexico, the 1920s-era U.S. Bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights with Honduras was specifically between the U.S. and Honduras and was self-executing, meaning it didn't require legislation to have effect. They said the treaty also conferred individual rights and incorporated international law into enforceable domestic law.

Terry O'Rourke, a lawyer on Chi's legal team who teaches international law at Houston's University of St. Thomas, said he was saddened Texas was violating international law to execute Chi.

"It takes you back to a very ugly time in history in Texas when we killed people because of the color of their skin and their poverty," he said.

AP also has, "Honduras laments execution of man in US," filed from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Honduras' government protested Thursday's execution in Texas of a Honduran man that the Central American country says was arrested in violation of an international treaty.

Honduras lobbied to stop the execution of Heliberto Chi, saying he was not permitted to contact anyone from his government after he was arrested in California and extradited to Texas.

"We lament that in this case, the arrangements established by the Vienna Convention treaty were not followed," the Honduran government said in a statement.

The argument is similar to the one raised earlier this week by Mexican-born Jose Medellin, who was executed late Tuesday night for his part in a gruesome gang rape-slayings of two teenage Houston girls 15 years ago.


Honduras said it would take all necessary measures to protect the lives of the 12 U.S. prisoners in Honduran prisons after local media reported they could be attacked in revenge.

The U.S. citizens are serving time for murder and drug trafficking offenses, the statement said.

The Honduran government said it would repatriate Chi's remains next week.

John Moritz writes, "Honduran executed for 2001 slaying of Arlington store manager," for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Heliberto Chi, the native Honduran who shot an Arlington store manager in the back during an after-hours robbery in 2001, was executed Thursday after the Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal based on the terms of an international treaty.

Chi, 29, was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. as two sons of his victim, Armand Paliotta, silently watched from a tiny room adjacent to the death chamber in Huntsville’s Walls Prison.

"God forgive them and receive my spirit," Chi said, who had a tear in his eye as he lay on the gurney.

In a separate witness room, Chi’s cousin wept uncontrollably and banged a fist against the glass that divided the room from the death chamber.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal that Chi’s conviction was tainted because authorities did not tell him at the time of his arrest about an international treaty that allowed him to seek help from Honduran consular representatives. Chi was in the country illegally.

"Texas executes Honduran man for 2001 murder," is the Reuters dispatch. Al Jazeera English reports, "Texas executes another foreigner."

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