France urges Texas to stay inmate's execution
France on Friday urged authorities in Texas to put off the execution of a death row inmate, voicing concern over a court's refusal to allow DNA testing that he claims would prove his innocence.
A Texas court on Thursday refused the request for the DNA tests by 49-year-old Hank Skinner, who has been on death row for 16 years and is married to French death penalty activist Sandrine Ageorges.
He is set to be executed on Wednesday.
"France expresses its concern following the Texas court's refusal to accept the request for DNA tests," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"As judicial appeals in the state of Texas and at the federal level have not been exhausted, France considers it essential that the November 9 execution date be lifted," it said.
Skinner was convicted of bludgeoning his girlfriend to death and fatally stabbing two of her children.
He has not denied being present in the home at the time of the killings but he has insisted that DNA collected at the site could clear him as a suspect in the 1993 crimes.
Skinner has maintained his innocence since the beginning and has pleaded with authorities for more than a decade to test DNA he says could prove that someone else killed the trio.
The state has long refused, citing a restrictive state DNA testing law. But lawmakers made changes to the law this year that lifted many of the restrictions.
"France wants Mr. Skinner to be able to benefit from the new guarantees offered by this law. No factors can be ignored when the death penalty is concerned," the ministry statement said.
© 2011 AFP