US state postpones 8 executions amid legal battle

Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) Ohio Governor John Kasich postponed eight executions, two weeks after a US federal judge ruled that the state’s lethal injection method might be too painful to be legal, the media reported.

Ohio has not been able to put an inmate to death for three years and revealed in court papers last week that it attempted but failed to buy alternate drugs from seven other states in an effort to jump-start executions, NBC News reported.

A federal appeals court will decide whether a three-drug cocktail that includes the controversial sedative midazolam can be used to kill death-row prisoners, but the panel was not expected to rule for weeks.

In response, Kasich on Friday pushed back a slate of scheduled executions, but said that he was confident the state will ultimately prevail based on an earlier ruling by the US Supreme Court on an Oklahoma execution.

Midazolam has been at the centre of several executions across the nation that did not unfold as planned, beginning with Ohio’s 2014 lethal injection of Dennis McGuire, who appeared to gasp and snort while taking 25 minutes to die.

In its appeal papers, Ohio said it had asked corrections departments in Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, and Florida to share their pentobarbital “but was rebuffed”.

State authorities have asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to let it import pentobarbital from a foreign manufacturer but the request is still pending, and officials admit they are not even sure they could find a supply if the feds allowed it.