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Spaniard on Death Row wins fight for retrial
THE State of Florida has annulled the execution of the only Spaniard on Death Row, Pablo Ibar, who has been in jail in the USA for 22 years.
Ibar has always denied he was behind the triple murder in 1994 in the town of Miramar, to the north of Miami, in which brothel owner Casimir Sucharski and two models, Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers, both aged 25, were shot dead.
A CCTV camera in Sucharski's house caught the incident on film, and seemed to show that two individuals with their faces covered entered the house, stealing the brothel owner's takings, and killing him and the two women.
One of the men took of his T-shirt and his face was shown on camera, although the footage was of very low resolution.
Police found fingerprints and DNA which did not match Ibar's, but the video was used as the basis for the inquiry and, when an officer thought he recognised the man who showed his face as Ibar, he was arrested.
The police said a number of witnesses recognised him from the film footage, but these people later said they only thought the man on camera looked like him.
Pablo Ibar denied the killing and said he was at home with his wife, Tanya Ibar (pictured centre), on the night of the armed robbery.
But he and another man, Seth Peñalver, were sentenced to death for the crime.
Peñalver's sentence was overturned on appeal after it was considered there had been 'illegalities' in the trial and investigation, but Ibar's was not.
Ibar's first sentencing in 1997 was declared null and void after the jury failed to reach an agreement, but in 2000, he was found guilty and placed on Death Row.
He appealed to the Supreme Court of Florida, arguing that the jury had reached erroneous decisions based upon circumstantial evidence and calling for a retrial, but this was denied to him in 2006.
A further appeal came to court in April 2014, where his defence lawyer argued that his Constitutional human rights had been violated and presented reports from experts showing that the video was not sufficiently solid proof to identify a person, and that the man's complexion was not the same as Ibar's.
This time, the court has agreed to suspend Ibar's death penalty and call for a retrial.
The Association Against the Death Penalty has championed the decision, but recognises that the accused still has a long trek ahead of him together with a succession of appeals.
But for Pablo Ibar, despite his 22 years in jail, it will be another chance – possibly his last – to show his innocence.
Photograph: Pablo Ibar's brother Michael, wife Tanya and solicitor outside the court building in Florida in 2014
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