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Swiss hold vigil in protest against US death penalty

The electric chair has largely been replaced by lethal injection in the US (picture: Amnesty International)

Supporters of Amnesty International have taken to the streets in several Swiss cities to protest against the death penalty in the United States. The vigils were timed to coincide with the 700th execution to take place in the US since 1976.

Amnesty spokesman, Lukas Labhardt, said the protests were aimed at drawing attention to the US's continuing use of the death penalty.

Demonstrators held candlelight vigils in several cities across the country, including Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Sion and Zurich.

Passers-by were invited to sign a book dedicated to people who have been executed by the American authorities.

The vigils were timed to coincide with the execution of Adolf Hernandez in Texas. Hernandez would have been the 700th person to be put to death in the US since 1976, but will in fact be the 697th, after stays of execution were granted to three other convicts.

Amnesty International says the US executes as many people as some of the world's least democratic regimes, including China.

The state of Texas has the highest rate of executions in the US.

Labhardt said he is nevertheless optimistic that opposition to the death penalty will gain momentum in the US. "We are not without hope that, despite the election of George W. Bush [the former governor of Texas], resistance to the death penalty will grow."

swissinfo with agencies


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