AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 25 (UPI) — A Texas court halted the execution of a Nicaraguan man Tuesday in a case that has garnered international humanitarian attention.
Bernardo Abán Tercero was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the 1997 murder of a school teacher during an armed robbery in Houston.
His lawyers filed an appeal Monday saying their client was denied due process because the state presented false testimony at trial. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed there was grounds for an appeal and stayed Tercero’s execution.
“The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did the right thing by staying Mr. Tercero’s execution.” said Melissa Hooper of Human Rights First, an organization that has campaigned on behalf of Tercero. “Many questions remain in this case, and now the court will allow at least some of them to finally be investigated. We are hopeful that this stay is the first step in providing Mr. Tercero with some measure of due process that until now he has not received.”
Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last week called for the suspension of Tercero’s execution on grounds he was not informed of his right to contact a Nicaraguan consular official at the time of his arrest.
“The Inter-American Commission concluded, among other findings, that the State’s failure to respect its obligation under Article 36.1 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to inform Bernardo Abán Tercero of his right to consular notification and assistance deprived him of a criminal process that satisfied the minimum standards of due process and a fair trial required under the American Declaration,” the group said in a news release.
On Monday — prior to the appeals court ruling — the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the execution would proceed as planned. Abbott’s spokesman said the same.
“Mr. Tercero brutally murdered Robert Berger at a dry cleaner in Houston in front of the victim’s three year-old daughter,” spokesman John Wittnman said in a statement quoted by NPR. “When anyone commits a crime in Texas, they are subject to Texas law, including a fair trial by jury. Mr. Tercero’s legal claims have been rejected by both state and federal courts on at least five occasions.”
Texas has executed 10 people so far in 2015.