World Court rules against U.S. in Germans’ execution

THE HAGUE, Reuters

The World Court faulted the United States on Wednesday for violating international rights of two German-born brothers executed in 1999 and ordered Washington to reconsider convictions in any similar cases.

The court also rebuked U.S. officials for disobeying an order in March 1999 by the United Nations body to delay the execution by the state of Arizona of one of the brothers.

Walter and Karl LaGrand had been found guilty of killing a bank manager in a bungled 1982 robbery.

Germany filed a case with the International Court of Justice in 1999, arguing U.S. officials violated the Vienna Convention by not informing its consular officials of the arrest and murder convictions of the LaGrands.

Walter was gassed to death the day after the court, the highest U.N. legal body, issued its emergency order. Karl had been put to death before the case was filed.

The United States did not deny that it had breached the Vienna Convention, but has vowed to improve compliance and apologized over the LaGrand case.

Judges voted 14-1 that in any similar current or future cases an apology would not be enough.

“An apology would not suffice in cases where the individuals concerned have been subjected to prolonged detention or convicted and sentenced to severe penalties,” a statement said.

“It would be incumbent upon the United States to allow the review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence.”