December 13, 2005

US ex-gang boss denied clemency

The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has denied clemency to former Crips gang leader Stanley "Tookie" Williams.

Barring a last-minute intervention by federal courts, Williams, 51, will be executed on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, California's Supreme Court and a federal appeals court both refused a stay of execution.

A high-profile campaign with celebrity backing has fought to save Williams, who denies four murders in 1979.

"After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency," Mr Schwarzenegger said.


"Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologise or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case. Without apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption," he said.

"Based on the cumulative weight of the evidence, there is no reason to second-guess the jury's decision of guilt or raise significant doubts or serious reservations about Williams' conviction and death sentence," the governor added.

Mr Schwarzenegger could have commuted the death sentence to life in prison without parole.

The California National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it was saddened by the governor's decision.

"We believe this is a serious blow to our effort to fight gangs," its president, Alice Huffman, said.

Protests

Correspondents say a reprieve from the federal courts is considered unlikely.

Williams, co-founder of the notorious gang, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 0001 (0801 GMT) at San Quentin prison, north of San Francisco.

Rev Jesse Jackson with protestors outside San Quentin prison in California
Rev Jesse Jackson visited Williams in prison on Monday

Local authorities are planning to tighten security outside the prison, where hundreds of protesters are expected.

During his 24 years in jail, Williams has won praise for his anti-gang books, earning Nobel Peace Prize nominations for his teachings.

His high-profile supporters have included Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, rap star Snoop Dogg - himself a former Crips member- Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

However, the relatives of some of his victims have insisted he does not deserve clemency because he has not owned up to his crimes and refused to inform on fellow gang members.

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