US court approves lethal injection: first execution in 17 years

US court approves lethal injection: first execution in 17 years

Daniel Lee was sentenced to death in the United States. First the execution should be postponed, now Lee is executed.

The US Supreme Court has given the go-ahead for the resumption of federal executions. On Tuesday, the judges withdrew an injunction from a lower authority that had initially delayed the first federal death sentences in 17 years. After the decision, the death sentence can be carried out against the convicted murderer Daniel Lee and three other people. The lower court’s decision was lethal on Monday two hours before the 47-year-old Lee was scheduled to be executed. Judge Tanya Chutkan had argued with possible pain from using pentobarbital for the lethal injections. Several courts had recently approved the use of the poison.

An appeals court initially upheld Chutkan’s decision. However, the Supreme Court found the last-minute suspension to be unjustified and overturned the injunction so that “the executions can be carried out as planned”. Lee’s execution would be the first at federal level since 2003. He was sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of a couple and their eight-year-old daughter. The government of US President Donald Trump has scheduled three more such executions this summer. Relatives of Lee’s murder victims, including the eight-year-old girl’s grandmother, had also asked for a postponement of the execution last week in view of the health risks posed by the corona crisis. The grandmother had previously spoken out against the execution.

An appeal court did not grant the application on the weekend. The Supreme Court upheld the rejection.

Most criminal cases in the United States are heard in federal states, but some trials take place in federal courts. These include hate crimes, a number of particularly serious crimes, and crimes that occur on military facilities or in reserves of the indigenous population.

Since 1988 there have been only three executions of the death penalty at federal level. President Trump’s decision to start again after 17 years had sparked international criticism. There are also few executions by the states, most of them in the southern United States. In 2019, 22 people were killed in this way.

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