Tuesday, August 13, 2002


Fox Asks Texas to Delay Execution of Mexican

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's President Vicente Fox appealed to Texas on Monday to postpone this week's scheduled execution of a Mexican citizen, saying his rights were trampled on after his arrest for allegedly murdering a police officer.

Stepping into a growing diplomatic controversy just two days before Javier Suarez Medina was due to die by lethal injection, Fox said he wanted to speak personally to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to try to at least push back the execution date.

"Mexico has requested the suspension of the execution. I hope that in the coming days we can talk personally about this urgent issue, which has aroused deep concern in Mexico," Fox said in a letter to Perry.

He said Suarez's rights were "flagrantly violated" by Texas authorities because he was not told at the time of his arrest that he was entitled to assistance from the Mexican consulate.

Suarez, 33, was sentenced to death in 1989 for killing undercover police officer Larry Cadena in Dallas during a drug bust the previous year.

Fox's government has actively lobbied Washington and sought international support in the case. Mexican officials say 11 countries -- eight in Latin America and three in Europe -- have pleaded for a stay of execution and more are expected to join the campaign.

Mexico, which does not have the death penalty, says 54 of its nationals are on death row in the United States and four Mexican nationals have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976.

The right to consult with a consulate was the basis of a recent Oklahoma ruling in favor of Gerardo Valdez, another Mexican sentenced to death.

However, several previous protests of U.S. executions of Mexican citizens, on grounds that the consulate was not advised, have failed.