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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Defiant McVeigh dies in silence
Pro-death penalty poster
Pro-death penalty campaigners gathered outside
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has been put to death in an Indiana execution chamber - speaking no final words, but issuing instead a poem which is a hymn to defiance.

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul

McVeigh's final words, from a poem
He died by lethal injection at 0714 local time (1214GMT), six years after killing 168 people in the worst-ever peacetime attack on US soil.

The 33-year-old was the first federal prisoner to be executed for 38 years.

Relatives of victims who died in the attack were among those witnessing the execution in Terre Haute. Other relatives watched in Oklahoma City by closed-circuit television.

McVeigh remained silent throughout his execution, but had released the text of William Ernest Henley's poem, Invictus, as his official last words.

Timothy McVeigh died with his eyes open

Media witness Byron Pitt
"My head is bloody but unbowed," it reads, before concluding: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

Warden Harley Lappin said McVeigh had been calm throughout his execution.


"He co-operated throughout the process, from the time he was restrained in the holding cell to the time he walked into the room," said Mr Lappin.

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh
McVeigh: No photographs of his final hours
"He stepped into the chamber, sat down on the table, and positioned himself so we could apply the restraints," he added.

Journalists who witnessed the proceedings described how McVeigh made eye contact with each witness, including the relatives, and died with his eyes open.

"He lay there very still," said witness Shepard Smith. "He never said a word."

I'm glad I live in a country which has made an example of this man

Kathleen Treanor, mother of victim
One mother whose four-year-old daughter was among McVeigh's victims greeted his death with relief.

"I'm glad I live in a country which has made an example of this man," said Kathleen Treanor, who watched his death on the television link.

She said his death was like a full-stop at the end of a sentence, but her suffering would not end.

"I don't think anything can bring me peace. I'll never get over the death of my daughter. When I die that's when I'll get closure," she said.

Death penalty opponents
Opponents of the execution wept at the jail
Another relative watching the television pictures, Larry Whicher, said: "I think today our justice system has preserved the freedom of this country."

He added: "(McVeigh) had a look of defiance and if he could do it all again, he would."

President Bush called the execution "the severest sentence for the gravest of crimes".

There is nothing reasonable or moral about what we have done today

McVeigh lawyer Robert Nigh
"The victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have been given not vengeance but justice," he said in a statement at the White House.

"One young man met a fate which he chose for himself six years ago."

McVeigh's lawyer, Robert Nigh, attacked the execution, which he also witnessed.

"There is nothing reasonable or moral about what we have done today," he said.

Relatives hug at Oklahoma City memorial
It has been an emotional day for relatives
"We have made killing a part of the healing process."

Inside the execution chamber, McVeigh was strapped to a T-shaped trolley and injected with three substances which ended his life.

First the executioners administered sodium pentothal, to make him lose consciousness. Then pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride were fed into his body, to stop his heart and lungs.

Curtains were drawn back on four rooms containing witnesses, who watched as he lost consciousness and was pronounced dead minutes later.

Lethal injection
sodium pentothal
Effect: causes unconsciousness
Pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride
Effect: stops heart and lung function
Time: 10-15 minutes
One room contained victims and relatives, who had been chosen by lottery to attend.

Witnesses in another room had been chosen by McVeigh himself. The two other rooms contained media representatives and prison officials.

At McVeigh's final meeting with his lawyers on Sunday, McVeigh said he regretted the loss of life in the 1995 bombing but did not believe that carrying out the attack itself was wrong.

'Thou shalt not kill'

Roman Catholic nuns organised a 168-minute "circle of silence" on Sunday evening outside the prison to pray for bomb victims as well as for McVeigh and his family.

About 1,400 members of the media had gathered in the town, as well as some of the people touched by the disaster.

Last hours
Last telephone call
Food: litre of mint chocolate chip ice cream
Final meeting with lawyers
Moved in chains to the execution chamber
Strapped onto the T-shaped trolley
Witnesses escorted into position
Lethal injection administered
Warden announces the time of death
Death penalty supporters huddled quietly outside the federal prison, holding homemade signs, which read: "Remember the victims," "Thou shalt not kill and live," and some with the simple footnote: "168."

On the other side of the fencing, about 350m (400 yards) away, death penalty opponents held flickering candles in holders made from milk cartons.

"I'm sorry, Tim," said one of their signs.

"What have we accomplished by executing Timothy McVeigh now that there are 169 people dead?" asked 49-year-old Bert Fitzgerald, a social worker.

The BBC's Tom Carver
"Those who watched his final moments described him as calm"
The BBC's David Willis
"It has been a day of very raw emotion here"
Linda Cavanaugh and Rex Huppke
journalists who witnessed the execution
The BBC's Nick Bryant
"The images sent down secure phone lines [were] graphic"
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