Florida sets new date for ‘experimental’ execution of Cuban Manuel Valle

September 16, 2011

A 61-year-old Cuban national with close ties to Spain is set to die at 4pm on September 28 after the state of Florida rescheduled his execution despite emerging national and international concerns about the case. Lawyers for Manuel Valle, who has been on death row for over three decades, are now urging the US Supeme Court to intervene, citing a lack of meaningful clemency process, a potentially torturous execution method and multiple errors by the state of Florida which have kept their client facing death for 33 years.  An amicus brief expressing similar concerns has been submitted to the Supreme Court by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law.In the past few weeks, the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Catholic Church and the Government of Spain have all written to Florida’s Governor Rick Scott asking him to halt the execution.Reprieve investigator Katherine Bekesisaid: “Manuel Valle’s case is becoming something of a farce, with multiple violations of due process continuing unchecked over three decades. The Supreme Court is Manuel Valle’s last chance to see real justice and, with his execution two weeks away, it must not let him down.”ENDS  Notes to editors 1. For more information please contact Reprieve’s Press Office: info@reprieve.org.ukManuel Valle is a Cuban national with Spanish links, who has now been on death row for 33 years. He has been denied proper clemency proceedings, and (similarly to the recent case of Humberto Leal in Texas) did not receive the consular assistance to which he was entitled. 3. Further problems in the case, as cited by Mr Valle’s legal team and in the amicus brief, include:

    Mr Valle has not been granted a fair and meaningful clemency process – a clear and unequivocal right under international law. Mr Valle is due to be executed with a new method featuring controversial drug pentobarbital. Pentobarbital was not designed for use in surgical anaesthesia, and both medical experts and the manufacturer agree that use in executions could cause agonising pain and suffering. Executions using pentobarbital have failed properly to anaesthetize prisoners, leading to severe and prolonged agony. An eyewitness from the Associated Press has described the “thrashing, jerking death of Roy Willard Blankenship” during which “his eyes never closed”. The full text of Dr David Waisel’s affidavit on Roy Blankenship’s inadequate anaesthesia can be found on Reprieve’s website.  Mr Valle has been on death row for 33 years, due primarily to the errors in the way that proceedings were carried out by the State of Florida. Prolonged incarceration on death row amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and violates international law.

4. Reprieve’s EC Project identifies and assists prisoners with European connections who are facing the death penalty in the USA.