US Supreme Court greenlights Arizona execution

US Supreme Court greenlights Arizona execution

In a 5-4 ruling, the high court said yesterday a lower court wrongfully blocked the execution of a death row inmate after officials refused to reveal where they got the necessary drugs and as questions remained about their safety.

It was not immediately clear when the execution, scheduled for yesterday, would take place."There is no evidence in the record to suggest that the drug obtained from a foreign source is unsafe," the Supreme Court ordered.

"There was no showing that the drug was unlawfully obtained, nor was there an offer of proof to that effect."

A federal appeals court that blocked the execution had earlier confirmed the drug came from an unidentified foreign manufacturer not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Arizona Attorney General's office has said the drug substitute came from a manufacturer in Great Britain.Lawyers for Jeffrey Landrigan, sentenced to death for a 1989 murder, filed suit Monday, arguing he could die in great pain if the anesthetic did not work.

There is a general shortage in the United States of the anesthetic sodium thiopental -- one of three components of the lethal injection -- forcing execution across the country to be postponed.

Arizona says it has enough of the drug, but has refused to reveal where the drug came from under a state law that says all information on the products used in executions must remain strictly confidential.

"The State of Arizona has provided the names of the drugs, their expiration dates and an avowal that the process of shipping and receiving the chemicals was cleared and approved by US Customs and... (FDA) officials," the Arizona prosecutor said in his appeal.
Only one pharmaceutical company in the United States, Hospira, currently manufactures sodium thiopental, but it is out of stock and will not be able to resume production until the first quarter of 2011