Governor Perry urged to sort out legal ‘mess’ surrounding today’s execution of Mark Stroman, as clemency board ignores plea from victim Rais Bhuiyan

July 20, 2011

Texas Governor Rick Perry faces calls to intervene to sort out the legal chaos surrounding today’s scheduled execution of Mark Stroman in Huntsville, Texas. The state is fighting several unprecedented lawsuits in various courts this morning even as it prepares to kill Mr Stroman later this evening. 

Mr Stroman was sentenced to death for a series of shootings in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, which left two men dead and one man injured.  The state’s legal teams are now struggling on two major fronts: first to justify Mr Stroman’s execution to the Supreme Court in the face of staunch opposition by the surviving victim Rais Bhuiyan, and second to defend the state’s record on victims’ rights after multiple violations during the trial in 2002. Yet even as compelling evidence mounts against Texas, the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied clemency and treated an urgent plea from victim Rais Bhuiyan with apparent contempt.  In an act of disturbing disrespect to the survivor of a violent ‘hate crime’, the Board flatly rejected a plea from Mr Bhuiyan and ignored his urgent request to appear before them.

The Board’s heartless treatment of an innocent victim makes a mockery of the state’s much-mentioned respect for the dignity and rights of victims of violent crime, and raises questions about who exactly this execution is for. 

Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith said:  “The state of Texas has got itself into a terrible mess over victim’s rights. When a victim is calling for the death penalty, the state stands firm with him — yet when a victim seeks to enforce his right to forgiveness and compassion, the state turns against him.”Now, in response to Rais Bhuiyan’s courageous lawsuit, Governor Perry is arguing that the hallowed rights of victims should be hollow rights, and he has run to federal court to try to read victims out of Texas law.”Rather than deferring to federal court, Gov. Perry must intervene immediately to reassert Texas’s much-mentioned respect for victims of crime. And the state of Texas must ask: if the victim does not want this execution, who exactly is it for?”Background:Mark Stroman was sentenced to death for a series of shootings in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, which left two men dead and one man injured. He is due to be executed in Texas on July 20. Mark’s surviving victim, Rais Bhuiyan, does not want his attacker to be executed and is actively campaigning for Mark’s sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. During the 2002 trial, Mr. Bhuiyan was not given the opportunity to tell the court that he was strongly against the death penalty. Due to his religious belief in forgiveness, Mr. Bhuiyan has requested a meaningful period of mediation with Mr. Stroman. He has had no response to his request from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He is now suing the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, for multiple violations of his rights as a victim of violent crime under the Texas Victims’ Bill of Rights.

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