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Utah Firing Squad Execution Draws Criticism

DRAPER, Utah (AP) - Utah's execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad is drawing international criticism.

Gardner was just the third man to die by firing squad since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. He requested the firing squad himself at an April hearing, telling his lawyer he preferred the method to lethal injection.

Gardner had the option because he received his death sentence before Utah eliminated the firing squad in 2004.

Death penalty opponents around the world decried the execution. The European Union issued a statement expressing its "profound regret" and saying the fact that Gardner chose how he died "in no way mitigates the imposition of death by the state."

The American Civil Liberties Union called it "barbaric," while religious leaders called for an end to the death penalty at an interfaith vigil in Salt Lake City last night. Rev. Tom Goldsmith of the First Unitarian Church argued that "murdering the murderer doesn't create justice."

Utah classifies executions as homicides.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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