US state postpones executions over lack of lethal drugs

Washington, Oct 20 (IANS) The Ohio state of the US has announced that it was postponing all executions scheduled from January 2016 for at least one more year, after it was unable to secure drug supplies for lethal injections.

The Ohio department of rehabilitation and correction on Monday said it had been unable to procure thiopental sodium and pentobarbital, the two drugs mentioned in its execution protocol, EFE news reported.

According to the reprogrammed schedule, Ronald Phillips, next in line on death row for rape and murder of a three-year-old girl in 1993, will be executed on January 12, 2017, instead of the scheduled January 21, 2016.

Besides Phillips, Ohio also postponed the executions of 10 other prisoners programmed for 2016.

The state has been postponing all planned executions since the administration of a faulty lethal injection caused a death row inmate to suffer in agony for 25 minutes before dying.

In January 2014, Ohio executed Dennis McGuire with an untested lethal injection containing the controversial sedative midazolam, which malfunctioned, as on two other occasions in Arizona and Oklahoma.

Many of the 32 US states where death penalty is still legal, have experienced procurement difficulties ever since European sellers stopped supplying the drugs to prevent their use in execution chambers.

Others, such as Texas, Missouri and Georgia, have been able to acquire pentobarbital but refuse to disclose their sources fearing reprisals and loss of supply.

Ohio has around 150 persons on death row and has executed 53 convicts since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

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