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Arkansas wants to execute a record seven men in 11 days

The US state wants to do it before its access to an execution drug is stopped.

The US Department of Correction's Cummins Unit prison in Varner, Arkansas.
The US Department of Correction's Cummins Unit prison in Varner, Arkansas.
Image: AP

THE US STATE of Arkansas is planning to execute seven death row inmates in 11 days because it wants to carry out the sentences before its supply of an execution drug expires on 1 May.

Judge Kristine Baker, who was appointed to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas by President Barack Obama, will consider the legality of Arkansas’ aggressive plan this week.

Baker must rule whether the state’s plan to execute seven prisoners from 17 April through 27 April would violate their rights to meaningful counsel and access to the courts.

Several lawyers and public defenders represent multiple inmates, prompting complaints they could be spread thin while fighting for their clients’ lives on separate fronts, particularly the parole board and state and federal courts.

The state maintains that the men committed horrendous crimes and that justice would be served by carrying out their executions.

State officials say the court challenge is a ploy to push the executions to 1 May or later, when they would be effectively stopped because the state’s supply of midazolam will have expired.

The seven executions in a 11 days would be a record for Arkansas.

Only Texas has executed eight in a month since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorised the death penalty in 1976, doing it twice in 1997.

Read: Death row inmates file lawsuit to prevent executions of eight men in 10 days >

Read: US state plans to put eight men to death over 10-day period >

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Associated Press

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