- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) — Oklahoma said Monday it would proceed with plans to execute a Mexican national, delaying for the moment a decision on whether to honor a stay issued by the World Court.

Texas has already said it would ignore World Court death stays for Mexican nationals on its death row.

The World Court at The Hague last week ordered both states not to execute three Mexican nationals — two in Texas, one in Oklahoma — until it resolves a suit filed by Mexico.

None of the three has an execution date.

Speaking from Oklahoma City on Monday, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Miller said the state would continue to prepare in the case of Oswaldo Torres Aguillera, listed on Oklahoma's death row as Osbaldo Torres.

Miller is in charge of criminal appeals at the state Attorney General's Office.

"We really don't have a decision to make at this point," Miller said. "Mr. Torres is not at the execution point … Until we come to the point where we need to make a decision, we're just going to carry on" with the execution process.

Torres and a co-defendant were convicted of a double 1993 murder during a burglary, killing a couple in their bed.

"I wouldn't say we are ignoring (the World Court order)," Miller said. "It just does not affect us at this time. The impact of the order at this time is just non-existent."

Mexico claims at least 50 of its nationals on U.S. death rows were illegally denied access to their consuls after their arrests, as required by the international agreement known as the Vienna Convention.

The three death row inmates were singled out by the World Court for stays because of the presumed likelihood they would be executed before Mexico's complaint is resolved, even though none of the three has a firm death date and some of their appeals are pending.

The case has become something of an international controversy, especially in Mexico. Mexican President Vicente Fox canceled a summit meeting with President George W. Bush in Texas last year over the earlier execution of a Mexican national in the Lone Star state.

The controversy also comes at a time when the United States has become estranged from some traditional allies on the question of war with Iraq.

Though the Bush administration has not taken a position on the execution of the Mexican nationals, the Clinton administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in 1998 arguing that such death penalties should be allowed to go forward.

The brief was filed in the case of a Paraguayan national, convicted of murder in Virginia, who also was allegedly denied access to his consul.

At the same time, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked Virginia not to execute the Paraguayan, Angel Francisco Breard, because it might put U.S. citizens abroad in danger.

Virginia ignored Albright's plea, and those of several foreign governments, and executed Breard in 1998 when a Supreme Court majority refused to block his execution.

The two Texas inmates included in last week's World Court orders are Cesar Fierro Reyna and Roberto Moreno Ramos.

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