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US High Court Delays Decision on Death Row Inmate

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court has quietly put off deciding whether it will take up the case of black death row inmate Troy Davis who for 20 years has insisted he did not kill a white policeman, a source close to Davis said Tuesday.

"The US Supreme Court called Troy's lawyer -- there will be no decision (which also means no execution date) until their court reconvenes in September," Sara Totonchi, head of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, which supports Davis, said in an email sent to AFP.

Davis's lawyer was not available for comment.

The justices delayed a decision in Davis's case without explanation on Monday, the last day of the Supreme Court's term before a long summer recess.

Davis has been in jail for 18 years for the murder in 1989 of white police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

Now 41, Davis has repeatedly said he did not kill MacPhail, and seven out of nine witnesses who gave evidence at his trial in 1991 have recanted or changed their testimony.

No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie him to the crime, which other witnesses have since said was committed by another man -- a state's witness who testified against Davis.

Davis has won several 11th-hour stays of execution since July 2007, when he was originally sentenced to die for murdering MacPhail.

One of the stays was granted by the Supreme Court in September last year, less than two hours before Davis was due to be put to death.

Around two weeks later, the high court refused to consider the constitutionality of executing a person when there is new evidence to show he was not guilty of the crime he stands accused of, and referred Davis's case back to the lower courts.

In April, a court in Georgia denied Davis a retrial but granted him another stay of execution to allow lawyers to take his case back to the Supreme Court.

With its racial overtones and Davis's continued claims of innocence, the case has triggered an international outcry, including from the European Union, whose 27 member states oppose any use of capital punishment, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and Pope Benedict XVI.

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