Thursday, 7 August 2008
For the second time in two weeks a Texas execution threatens to violate international law. Like Jose Medellin, law enforcement officials failed to provide Heliberto Chi the consular notification that he had the right to contact the government of Honduras at the time he was arrested. Chi is scheduled to be executed tonight in Huntsville.
Here's a statement from Houston attorney Terence O'Rourke, who represents the Republic of Honduras in the matter He's an adjunct professor of international law at St. Thomas University.
The State of Texas is set to execute Heliberto Chi tomorrow in wanton and obvious violation of international law AND U.S. federal law.: From the time that Heliberto Chi was arrested by the Los Angeles police, the states of California and Texas have been in violation of U.S. treaty law.
It is important to note that the violation of international law is WORSE in the Chi case than in the Medellin case.
In Chi, there is a self-executing bi-lateral treaty between the USA and Honduras. This is exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court noted was NOT in the Medellin case. If Mexico and the USA had a bi-lateral treaty, like that of Honduras, the Medellin would be alive today and serving life without parole .
The Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights, Dec. 7, 1927, U.S.-Hond., 45 Stat 2618, 1928 WL 26688 is a treaty with the same effect as an act of Congress. It is USA federal law. Under the federal supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the State of Texas is compelled to comply with federal law.
If the State of Texas to executes Heliberto Chi, it [and its responsible state officers] will be engaged in an unlawful killing.
The International Herald Tribune carries an AP report, "Honduras seeks to block citizen's US execution."
The Honduran government says it is lobbying U.S. authorities to stop Thursday's scheduled execution of one of its citizens for a 2001 slaying in Texas.
Honduran consular assistance director Ramon Valladares says Heliberto Chi was not given access to consular help as mandated by the 1963 Vienna Convention treaty.
However, Chi is not among some 50 U.S. death row inmates who the International Court of Justice has said should be given new hearings.
Valladares told HRN radio Wednesday that Chi's legal team could soon file appeals on other grounds.
"Honduran faces execution tonight for Arlington killing," is the title of John Moritz report in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Heliberto Chi, a Honduran native who led authorities on a six-week manhunt after gunning down an Arlington clothing-store manager in 2001, moved one step closer to execution Wednesday when the state’s highest criminal court rejected his bid for a stay.
Chi, condemned for killing Armand Paliotta during an after-hours robbery of the K&G Men’s Superstore in Arlington, will be put to death tonight in Huntsville unless his lawyers can persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life.
Arlington attorney Wes Ball said the odds are against Chi because Ball’s argument is similar to the one the justices rejected late Tuesday when they allowed the execution of Mexican national Jose Ernesto Medellin to go forward.
"The court went 5-4 against Medellin, so we’ll have to turn one justice to our side," Ball said.
Medellin’s case rested on the fact that he was not notified that he had the right under international treaty to visit with a Mexican consular representative after his arrest. Chi likewise was not notified of that right, but Ball said his client will also argue that the United States has a separate treaty with Honduras that ensures each country’s citizens will be notified of their right to consular help if they are arrested abroad.
Earlier coverage of the Chi case is here.