Court orders U.S. authorities to stay execution of Paraguayan

orld Court intervened for the first time in a death penalty case Thursday, demanding that the United States spare the life of a Paraguayan facing execution in Virginia next week.
But it appeared unlikely that the legal lifeline thrown to Angel Francisco Breard — on death row for the 1992 murder and attempted rape of Ruth Dickie of Arlington, Va. — would reach across the Atlantic. U.S. officials have said previously that the World Court has no jurisdiction in this case.
The 15-judge World Court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body, has no enforcement powers and relies on countries to comply voluntarily with its decisions.
Paraguay went to the World Court, contending that the 32-year-old Breard was not informed of his right to assistance from Paraguayan consuls in the United States after his arrest for the slaying.
Paraguay appealed for a stay of execution, claiming that the failure by Virginia’s law enforcement authorities to tell Breard he had the right to such assistance violated the 1963 Vienna convention, an international treaty that provides for consular help for people who get in trouble on other countries.
U.S. authorities do not deny the mistake, but say they apologized to Paraguay for the oversight and claim the lack of consular help had no bearing on the trial’s outcome.
Thursday’s ruling means the court believes there is a treaty-based dispute between the two nations and that Breard should not be executed until that dispute is settled. It did not address the legality of Virginia’s use of the death penalty.
Virginia’s authorities played down the ruling, saying Breard was clearly guilty and deserved to die by lethal injection Tuesday.