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Vietnam executes by lethal injection despite protest

Vietnam has executed its first convict by lethal injection, despite a chemicals ban imposed by the EU to stymy death penalties worldwide. Vietnam legalized its own production of lethal chemicals earlier this year.

Vietnam's one-party-ruled state switched to execution by injection on Tuesday after deciding in 2011 to change from using firing squads. It was initially unclear whether new Vietnamese drugs had actually been used for Tuesday's execution.

The European Union had tried to persuade Vietnam to abolish capital punishment by banning exports from EU factories that were the main suppliers of drugs used at executions.

Earlier this year, the EU ambassador to Vietnam, Franz Jessen, said the EU had hoped that difficulties in sourcing chemicals would also result in an execution moratorium in Vietnam.

Execution in Hanoi prison

Nguyen Anh Tuan, 27, was executed by lethal injection in a Hanoi prison on Tuesday. He had been sentenced to death in 2010 for murdering a woman and for robbery, according to the daily newspaper Thanh Nien.

Vietnam currently has 586 people on death row, according to local newspaper reports, for crimes such as murder, child rape and narcotics trafficking.

Amnesty International (AI) said Vietnam's resumption of executions was saddening.

Other Southeast Asian countries were debating the issue, said AI's campaigner against the death penalty, Chiara Sangiorgo, who added that Vietnam should have concentrated its "efforts in launching a national debate with a view to abolition."

In April, AI said Iraq had executed almost twice as many people last year as the year before, while India and Pakistan resumed executions after abandoning the practice for years.

Death penalty still widespread

In late June, the US state of Texas used a lethal injection to execute Kimberley McCarthy, the 500th convict that the state has put to death since using a US Supreme Court ruling to reinstate the death penalty in 1976.

On Monday, the US state of Florida used a lethal injection to kill John Errol Ferguson, 65, who had been convicted of murdering eight people in the late 1970s.

His defense lawyers had pleaded that the paranoid schizophrenic was too ill to be put to death.

Currently, there are 3,125 convicts on death row in the United States. Actual executions have dropped in number. From a peak of 71 annually in 2002, last year 43 people were executed.

Human rights groups say China executes untold thousands of people a year, more than all other countries combined. It often imposes the death penalty for corruption and other economic crimes.

In June, the French non-governmental organization Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM) said 58 countries in the world still applied the death penalty, after 97 had abolished it. And it said more than 30 countries have enacted moratoriums on executions for at least 10 years.

ipj/tj (dpa, AP, AFP)