WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US state of Texas on Wednesday executed a Mexican convicted of murdering his teen cousin, sparking condemnation from President Enrique Pena Nieto and adding to tensions between the two countries.
Ruben Cardenas Ramirez, 47, received a lethal injection and was pronounced dead at 10.26pm (0426 GMT Thursday) despite last-minute intervention by his lawyers and concerns raised by the United Nations (UN).
“I will not and cannot apologise for someone else’s crime, but, I will be back for justice!” Ramirez said in a written final statement.
He was found guilty of the 1997 kidnap, rape and murder of a 16-year-old cousin, Mayra Laguna.
In his statement, he thanked “every government official” who tried to assist him.
The Mexican president expressed his “strongest condemnation” of the execution on Twitter, saying it violated a ruling by the International Court of Justice.
Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2005 and had asked the United States not to carry out the execution.
The case came alongside tensions over President Donald Trump’s plan to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it as part of his administration’s broader efforts to restrict the flow of immigrants and refugees.
Trump has also threatened to scrap a free trade pact between the US, Mexico and Canada if renegotiation doesn’t work.
One of Ramirez’s lawyers, Greg Kuykendall, had filed in vain a series of last-minute appeals, including to the US Supreme Court, in hopes of a stay of execution.
Mexican officials insist that Cardenas was not promptly given access to an attorney or the consular assistance that is allowed under the 1963 Vienna Convention.
“For the government of Mexico this is not an issue about culpability or innocence, but about respect for human rights and due process,” said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the Mexican consul general in the Texas capital Austin.
Since the start of the case Cardenas “was denied the right to due process of law, as he was not granted prompt access to consular assistance”, he wrote in an opinion piece in the Austin-American Statesman newspaper.
UN human rights experts had also urged the US government not to carry out the execution.
“The US government will have implemented a death penalty without complying with international human rights standards,” wrote Agnes Callamard and Elina Steinerte, two UN human rights experts.