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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"In Oklahoma City more uncertainty and anguish"
 real 56k

Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
'No more delay' in McVeigh execution
Cemetery where 168 victims of Oklahoma bombing are buried
Mr Ashcroft said he would not cause more pain
The United States Attorney-General John Ashcroft has ruled out any further postponement of the execution of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh - already delayed until 11 June.


The last thing I want to do is to distress people who have already endured a kind of pain that none of us can even understand, let alone would want to endure

US Attorney-General John Ashcroft
Mr Ashcroft told the Daily Oklahoman newspaper that McVeigh's lawyers had been given "ample time" to study legal documents withheld from the trial by the FBI.

It was this omission that prompted the decision to call off next Wednesday's scheduled execution.

"The last thing I want to do is to distress people who have already endured a kind of pain that none of us can even understand, let alone would want to endure," Mr Ashcroft said.

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh
McVeigh has admitted his role in the 1995 bombing
The 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people were killed and hundreds injured, was the worst ever such atrocity on American soil.

One of McVeigh's lawyers, Robert Nigh, said the defence team were going through the documents but had received no instructions from McVeigh - who has admitted his guilt and, before this latest twist, had declined to appeal.

Mr Nigh said his client would consider his options based on the contents of the withheld papers.

No further delay

The people of Oklahoma City reacted with disappointment and anger to Mr Ashcroft's decision last Friday to postpone McVeigh's execution.

But in Sunday's interview with The Daily Oklahoman, the Attorney-General again sought to justify his decision.

"I just felt like there had to be a clarity in the mind of the American public that our responsibilities were carried out in advance of this final act to bring closure to this whole episode," he told the paper.

Timothy McVeigh
Born to working-class Catholic parents in a Buffalo suburb
Decorated Gulf War veteran
Developed a passion for gun ownership and a hate for the federal government
Motivated by right-wing novel The Turner Diaries, which features deadly assault on an FBI HQ
Defence lawyer Robert Nigh said he could not disclose what the documents contained, adding that their "production itself could possibly change the legal outcome of the case."

But Mr Ashcroft repeated that he did not believe the courts would order a re-trial.

"We are not of a mind that these documents are in any way exculpatory ... These documents are not going to create any basis - that I could in any way foresee - for a new trial".

Mr Ashcroft has ordered the Justice Department to investigate why the FBI failed to hand over the 3,135 documents, which include interview notes, photographs, written correspondence and tapes.

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See also:

12 May 01 | Americas
Anger at McVeigh execution delay
12 May 01 | Americas
The best laid plans...
19 Apr 01 | Americas
McVeigh death banned from web
19 Apr 01 | Americas
Oklahoma marks bomb anniversary
11 Feb 01 | Americas
Bomber wants public execution
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