The Miami Herald
June 6, 2001

Death penalty reinstated in Puerto Rico

 BOSTON -- (AP) -- The federal death penalty does apply in Puerto Rico, even though citizens of the Caribbean island cannot vote in federal elections, a U.S. court tuled.

 The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled on the case Tuesday.

 The court made the ruling in the case of Hector Oscar Acosta Martinez and Joel Rivera Alejandro, who were indicted on charges of kidnapping and killing a man allegedly in retaliation for giving information to police.

 Prosecutors decided to seek the death penalty under a 1994 federal statute that allows executions for more than 60 crimes.

 But U.S. District Judge Salvador Casellas ruled in July 2000 that the federal death penalty could not be allowed in Puerto Rico because citizens do not have a voice on the issue since they cannot vote in federal elections.

 He also ruled the federal statute that allows for the death penalty contradicts Puerto Rico's 1952 constitution, which does not allow executions.

 The appeals court rejected the defendants' argument as political, not legal.

                                    © 2001