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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
Texas rejects EU executions plea
Johnny Ray Conner (AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
More than 1,000 people have been executed in the US since 1976
Texas has told the European Union to mind its own business after the bloc called on the state's governor to get rid of the death penalty.

The EU expressed "great regret" at Texas' preparations to carry out its 400th death penalty and renewed its call to the US to halt executions.

Johnny Ray Conner, 32, will be executed on Wednesday for the 1998 fatal shooting of a grocery store clerk.

But Governor Rick Perry insisted it was a "just and appropriate" punishment.

He was responding robustly to the EU's denunciation of judicial killings as "cruel and inhumane".

The statement from the Portuguese presidency of the 27-nation bloc said: "The European Union strongly urges Governor Rick Perry to exercise all powers vested in his office to halt all upcoming executions and to consider the introduction of a moratorium in the state of Texas."

Texas Governor Rick Perry on 9 July 2007
Texans long ago decided the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens
Governor's spokesman

It continued: "There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime and the irreversibility of the punishment means that miscarriages of justice, which are inevitable in all legal systems, cannot be redressed."

But Robert Black, a spokesman for the Texas governor, told the BBC News website: "Two hundred and thirty years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination.

"Texans long ago decided the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens.

"While we respect our friends in Europe ... Texans are doing just fine governing Texas."

According to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, 1,090 executions have taken place in the US since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment in 1976.

Texas has carried out more than a third of those.

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