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US woman executed in Georgia, despite papal appeal

World News :  The US state of Georgia executed its first woman in 70 years early Wednesday, despite an appeal for clemency by Pope Francis.

Kelly Gissendaner, 47, made a statement and requested a prayer before she was put to death by lethal injection after a flurry of last minute appeals.

“At 12:21 am (0441 GMT) the court-ordered execution of Kelly Gissendaner was carried out in accordance with state law,” said Gwendolyn Hogan, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections.

She was the first woman to be executed in the southern state since 1945, and the 16th nationwide since the Supreme Court re-established the death penalty in 1976.

Gissendaner was sentenced to death after being found guilty of conspiring to murder her husband in 1997.

Her execution initially was scheduled for 7 pm Tuesday (2300 GMT), but was delayed as her lawyers sought an 11th hour reprieve in filings before a federal court of appeals, the Georgia supreme court and the US Supreme Court, to no avail.

Pope Francis´s personal representative sent a letter to Georgia´s parole board on Tuesday making “an urgent appeal” to commute Gissendaner´s sentence to “one that would better express both justice and mercy.”

“Please be assured of my prayers as you consider this request by Pope Francis for what I believe would be a just act of clemency,” the Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote.


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