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Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 02:51 GMT
Texas execution angers French
Paris anti-death penalty protest
Demonstrators outside the US consulate in Paris
A convicted murderer has been executed in Texas despite a campaign led by European anti-death penalty campaigners with the support of senior French politicians.

Odell Barnes, 31, was executed by lethal injection at Huntsville Prison on Wednesday at approximately 1800 local time (0000 GMT).

Barnes was convicted in 1991 of the murder of his girlfriend. He denied committing the murder, and in a recent interview said: "The truth will be known one day."

His defence team had argued that the police had planted evidence and struck deals with witnesses for false testimony. The arguments were rejected by the court.

A top French government official who campaigned against the sentence described the execution as "an assassination."

"I am revolted and indignant," said Jack Lang, the Chairman of the French National Assembly's foreign affairs committee.

Last minute petition

Texas Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry, refused a 30-day stay of execution. In the absence Texas Governor George W Bush, the front runner in the race for the Republican party presidential nomination, Mr Perry was faced with the decision to give or refuse clemency.

Odell Barnes
Odell Barnes giving an interview two weeks ago
On Wednesday, Mr Lang asked former US President George Bush to petition his son, Governor Bush.

Mr Lang later told reporters that the former president had told him there was a possibility of the 30-day stay of execution.

A spokesman for Mr Bush said this was not the case, and that the former president had only explained the process with appeals against executions.

European campaign

About 50 people demonstrated outside the US Consulate in Paris on Wednesday, in protest against the expected execution.

Barnes' case was taken up by French campaigners against the death penalty.

The campaigners say the investigation which led to the sentence was flawed, and had raised money to review the case.

French President Jacques Chirac called for clemency last week, and Prime Minister Jospin wrote to Governor Bush saying he shared the strong emotion aroused in France by Barnes' fate.

Barnes was the 10th person put to death this year in Texas.
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