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Arkansas inmates ask appeals court to review part of ruling

Arkansas inmates ask appeals court to review part of ruling”

Arkansas's original plan to execute eight men in 10 days this month would have set a rate never seen since the United States resumed the death penalty in 1977, the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center has reported.

The Arkansas attorney general's office said the decision strayed from previous cases before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Griffen said he needed time to study a request from drug distributor McKesson Corporation for the drug's use to be banned in state executions.

Arkansas, which has not carried out an execution in 12 years, planned to begin the lethal injections of at least six convicted murderers on Monday and complete the executions before the end of April.

The state is appealing, as it hopes to put the men to death before its supply of an execution drug expires at the end of the month.

The judge based her injunction in part on concerns raised about the possibility of "severe pain" from the state's three-drug protocol, which includes the soon-to-expire sedative midazolam, while Ms. Rutledge argued that the inmates had previously litigated that issue and lost. "They are here working around the clock and committed to upholding and defending the rule of law; seeing these executions carried out, seeing justice for the families of those victims", Rutledge said Saturday afternoon.

"The unnecessarily compressed execution schedule using the risky drug midazolam denies prisoners their right to be free from the risk of torture", he said in a statement. The inmates say midazolam is unsuitable as an execution drug, saying it is not a painkiller and could subject them to a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

An eighth inmate who had been scheduled to die also won a stay earlier, removing him from the list for April execution.

The company has said it sold the drug to be used for medical purposes, not executions.

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On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker filed a preliminary injunction temporarily halting the planned executions, in response to a lawsuit filed by the death row inmates in question.

Many pharmaceutical companies, particularly in Europe, have banned their use for executions. The first executions are set for Monday night.

The anesthetic midazolam - which is used to render inmates unconscious before they are injected with vercuronium bromide to suppress breathing, and finally potassium chloride to stop the heart - has botched executions before, defense lawyers pointed out.

Rutledge filed an emergency motion with the Arkansas Supreme Court on Saturday, saying the stay put on Ward's execution was "without merit".

In a statement he said he expected all of the last month's clemency hearings and court cases to be tough on the victim's families, calling it "all part of a hard process". She also noted that the execution team did not have antidotes on hand in case there was trouble with any of the drugs. Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005.

Griffen scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning, then joined anti-death penalty protesters outside the governor's mansion and tied himself to a cot as though he were an inmate on a death chamber gurney.

McKesson said it's considering legal action to get the drug back. In a separate case Friday, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state from using a paralyzing drug, vecuronium bromide, made by a company that claims Arkansas obtained it under false pretenses.

FILE- In this January 4, 2017, file photo Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to members of the press during a Q&A session in Little Rock, Ark.



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