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USA (Arizona): Death penalty / legal concern: Ramon Martinez-Villareal

, N° d'index: AMR 51/021/1997

Ramon Martinez-Villareal, of Mexican origin, is scheduled to be executed on 21 May 1997 after being sentenced to death in 1983 for murder. There is concern that he may be executed despite being mentally retarded. It is also not known whether he was provided with adequate translation services during the legal proceedings against him.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 51/21/97
EXTRA 63/97 Death Penalty / Legal concern 1 May 1997
USA (Arizona) Ramon MARTINEZ-VILLAREAL
Ramon Martinez-Villareal, of Mexican origin, is scheduled to be executed in
Arizona on 21 May 1997. He was sentenced to death in 1983 for the murder of
two farm workers, James Thomas McGrew and Fernando Estrada-Babichi.
Martinez-Villareal was originally scheduled to be executed on 16 April 1997,
but his execution was stayed by the Arizona Supreme Court to allow defence
attorneys more time to prepare appeals based on Martinez-Villareal’s mental
retardation. His intelligence quotient (IQ) is measured at 64, putting him
in the category of significantly mentally deficient.
According to information received by Amnesty International, Martinez-Villareal
speaks only his native Spanish. It is not known whether he was provided with
adequate translation services during the legal proceedings against him.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally as the ultimate
form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and as a violation of the
right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Furthermore, the organization believes that the execution of Ramon
Martinez-Villareal would be in contravention of United Nations Economic and
Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution 1989/64, adopted in May 1989, which
recommends "eliminating the death penalty for persons suffering from mental
retardation or extremely limited mental competence."
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
As of 31 July 1996, there were 122 prisoners under sentence of death in Arizona.
The most recent person to be executed in the state was Randy Greenawalt, on
23 January 1997. The method of execution in Arizona is lethal injection.
Prisoners who were under sentence of death before the state's method of execution
was changed from gas chamber to lethal injection in November 1992 may choose
between lethal injection or the gas chamber. In Arizona the Governor may grant
clemency or reprieves only on recommendation of the state Board of Executive
Clemency.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please telephone, or send
telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in English or your own language:
To the Arizona Board of Pardons and Paroles:
- urging the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency to recommend that Governor
Symington grant clemency to Ramon Martinez-Villareal by commuting his sentence
of death;
To Governor Symington:
- urging that clemency be granted to Ramon Martinez-Villareal, and his death
sentence be commuted;
To both:
- expressing sympathy for the victims of violent crimes and their families;
- stating that the execution of Ramon Martinez-Villareal would be in
contravention of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution
1989/64, adopted in May 1989, which recommends "eliminating the death penalty
for persons suffering from mental retardation or extremely limited mental
competence".
2
Appeals from Mexican nationals living in countries outside Mexico to relevant
Mexican officials/embassies in those countries would be particularly welcome.
APPEALS TO
Chairperson
Arizona Board of Executive Clemency
1645 West Jefferson, Suite 326
Phoenix, AZ 85007, USA
Telephone: +1 602 542 5656
Faxes: +1 602 542 5680
Telegrams: Arizona Board Executive Clemency, Phoenix, USA
Salutation: Dear Chairperson and Board Members
The Honorable Fife Symington
Governor of Arizona
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007, USA
Faxes: +1 602 542 7601
Telegrams: Governor Symington, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Salutation: Dear Governor
COPIES TO:
The Letters Editor
Arizona Republic
Box 1950
Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA
Faxes: +1 602 271 8500
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

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