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Monday, July 20, 1998 Published at 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK

World: Americas

St Kitts executes convict

Former colonies are rejecting British justice

The Caribbean state of St Kitts and Nevis has carried out its first execution in more than 17 years.

David Wilson, aged 28, was hanged for killing a security guard at an hotel four years ago.

Correspondents say the action is part of a regional backlash by former British colonies against calls from British courts and human rights groups to ban executions.

Many countries in the region are now putting deadlines on convicts' appeals to international tribunals.

The human rights group Amnesty International condemned the execution as a backward step for the Caribbean.

[ image: Caribbean states say they need capital punishment to fight drug crime]
Caribbean states say they need capital punishment to fight drug crime
Caribbean governments say they need capital punishment to help halt an increase in violent crime associated with a growth in drug trafficking.

Opinion polls in the Caribbean often show strong public support for capital punishment.

Several of the region's leaders have condemned pressure from abroad not to execute criminals as a challenge to their national sovereignty.

Leaders of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, are planning to set up a regional Supreme Court to replace the British Privy Council in London as the region's final court of appeal.

The new court is expected to start operating next year.

Trinidad and Tobago, which along with Jamaica and Guyana has led the drive to break with the Privy Council, was also to have hanged a murderer on Tuesday, but last-minute court motions postponed the execution there.

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