Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Troy Davis, who has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Georgia, USA, to be granted a retrial in view of evidence which strongly indicates his innocence.
Troy Davis was sentenced to death by the Georgia State Court in 1991 for the murder of a policeman and scheduled to be executed at the end of July 2008. According to Mr Davis' lawyers, there is abundant proof of his innocence, material evidence against him has never been found and seven witnesses against him have retracted their testimony.
On 4 August 2007 the Supreme Court of Georgia had agreed to reconsider the new elements casting doubt on Mr Davis' culpability but on 17 March 2008 the same court decided to deny him a new trial.
Retrial of Troy Davis merited on the basis of evidence
The EP resolution "asks, in view of abundant evidence which might reverse his sentence, for the relevant courts to grant Troy Davis a retrial, and for the death sentence therefore to be commuted". It also "appeals urgently to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the death sentence".
MEPs call on the Presidency of the Council and the Delegation of the European Commission to the USA to raise the issue with the US authorities as a matter of urgency.
EP opposed to death penalty on principle
More broadly, today's resolution calls upon those countries where the death penalty is carried out to take steps towards abolition. This is in line with Parliament's general stance on capital punishment: in the past it has devoted much effort to seeking abolition of the death penalty and warmly welcomed UN General Assembly Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.
Innocent death row prisoners have been reprieved in USA too
Lastly, to underline the flaw in the use of the death penalty, today's resolution points out that more than 120 people have been released from death row in the USA since 1975 on the grounds of innocence.