Spaniard taken off death row in US

Pablo Ibar, whose death sentence was overturned in February by the Florida Supreme Court, has been transferred to a regular prison

Pablo Ibar at an appeals hearing in 2009.
Pablo Ibar at an appeals hearing in 2009.EFE
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Spaniard on death row in Florida for 15 years granted new trial

Pablo Ibar, a dual Spanish-American citizen whose death sentence was overturned last February by the Florida Supreme Court, has been transferred from death row to a regular penitentiary in northern Miami, his lawyer said on Thursday.

The Florida Supreme Court vacated Ibar’s sentence and ordered a new trial, citing several flaws in the state’s arguments against him.

Forty-five-year-old Ibar, who is of Basque descent, will appear before Judge Jeffrey Levenson in a Fort Lauderdale court, in Broward County, on Friday. Levenson presided over his case in 2009, nearly 10 years after the Spaniard was sentenced to death for the triple murder of a nightclub owner and two models.

Ibar, who has served 22 years in prison, 15 of them on death row, has always maintained his innocence

“Ibar is already listed as being transferred to a jail in Broward County,” said Andrés Krakenberger, a spokesman for the Pablo Ibar Association Against the Death Penalty.

The Florida Supreme Court underscored one of the most important arguments used by the defense: the fact that “Ibar’s DNA was not found on a blue T-shirt recovered from the crime scene” and which was allegedly “[used] by the perpetrator to partially cover his face.”

Benjamin Waxman, Ibar’s lawyer, filed seven motions in Broward County questioning the basis of the prosecution’s case. He argued against the strength of a key piece of evidence, a “soundless, blurry, grainy” home surveillance videotape that a facial identification expert said could not prove “with certainty” that the killer was in fact the defendant.

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Ibar will appear before Judge Levenson on Friday for a short hearing to decide “future steps to be taken in the procedure leading to the retrial.”

Ibar, who has served 22 years in prison, 15 of them on death row, has always maintained his innocence. The defense will ask the court to release him on bail and under the supervision of his family while awaiting the new trial.

During the first trial, which began in 1998, a Broward County jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict and the judge threw out the case because there were no fingerprints or DNA linking Ibar to the murders. But he was convicted on August 28, 2000 after a second trial. Ibar is the only Spanish citizen to have been sentenced to death in the United States.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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