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Bahamas To Hang Convicted Criminals

October 15, 1998

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) _ The Bahamas is sending two murderers to the gallows today despite international opposition.

At home, there have been none of the protests that accompanied the last hanging in the Bahamas, in 1996. That follows a Caribbean trend to fight rising crime with the harshest punishment.

``We pray that others will take note that the Bahamian society is fed up with these heinous types of crime,″ said the Rev. Simeon Hall, president of the Bahamas Christian Council, which had protested the 1996 execution.

``The innocent people have been pushed to this day and feel this is their only recourse,″ Hall told The Associated Press.

Attorney General Tennyson Wells said the Bahamas would hang Trevor Fisher, 28, and Richard Woods, 51, even though they have appeals pending at the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Fisher was convicted in 1994 of shooting an unarmed man at point blank range in a botched 1990 robbery attempt. Woods was sentenced in 1995 for the 1993 murder of Pauline Johnson.

The Washington D.C.-based commission made a last-minute appeal for the men’s lives Wednesday, Bahamian government radio reported. But there was no government response to the appeal.

Some Caribbean countries have accused the commission of deliberately prolonging its decisions in a bid to prevent hangings. Jamaica withdrew from the commission this year and Trinidad has said it will withdraw next year.

Bahamian officials needed to carry out the executions ahead of a five-year limit set by Britain’s Privy Council, which ruled in 1993 that it was inhumane to keep prisoners on death row for more than five years.

As a result, hundreds of condemned convicts had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, since the Privy Council of the House of Lords is the highest court for several current and former British Caribbean colonies.

In the Bahamas, 17 death sentences had to be commuted this year and 30 people remain on death row.

The Privy Council ruled three-two last week that the Bahamas, independent since 1973, should act. It emphasized the ``requirement on humanitarian grounds that in countries which retain the death penalty, lawful death penalties should be carried out as swiftly″ as practical.

The council said it also was necessary ``to maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system in the Bahamas.″

Britain’s government is opposed to the death penalty and has tried to persuade Caribbean countries to stop it. In response, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad _ all independent nations with varying links to Britain _ announced in July that they plan to cut ties to the Privy Council and form their own Caribbean Court of Justice.

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