A Mexican citizen convicted for murdering a police officer in Texas in 1994 was put to death by the state on Wednesday, despite protests from both the State Department and the Mexican government.
Lawyers for Edgar Tamayo appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that he was not informed of his right to diplomatic assistance from the Mexican consulate, as is written in the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. On Sunday, the country's foreign ministry said that executing Tamayo, "would be a clear violation of the United States' international obligations."
A second appeal argued that Tamayo was mentally handicapped and, therefore, could not be executed. The Court did not accept either appeal, but the execution was delayed for a few hours while they deliberated.
In a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice, the U.S. was advised to reconsider the death sentences of 51 Mexicans who had been convicted without knowing their consular rights. Tamayo was the third of that group. Following the ruling, then-President George W. Bush ordered each state to comply, but Texas successfully opposed the order before the Supreme Court in 2008, citing an absence of legislation from Congress.
"It doesn't matter where you're from, if you commit a despicable crime like this in Texas," a spokesperson for Texas governor Rick Perry said on Wednesday, "you are subject to our state laws, including a fair trial by jury and the ultimate penalty."
Secretary of State John Kerry also tried to halt the execution. "I want to be clear: I have no reason to doubt the facts of Mr. Tamayo’s conviction, and as a former prosecutor, I have no sympathy for anyone who would murder a police officer," he wrote about the case last autumn, "This is a process issue I am raising because it could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries.”
Another eight executions are scheduled in Texas between now and the end of May.