HANDS OFF CAIN: LETHAL INJECTION IN USA WITH PENTOTAL PRODUCED IN ITALY
|From Left: Toscani, Babcock, Firth, DâElia, Foa, Zamparutti, Bonelli
December 2, 2010: the order to produce Sodium Thiopental destined for US jails arrived directly from the American headquarters, based in Lake Forrest, Illinois, the dossier 'Lethal Trade' presented today in Rome by Hands Off Cain and Reprieve denounced.
In this way, Hospira Spa, the pharmaceutical company based in Liscate in the province of Milan, became the most important source of Pentotal for lethal injections after the decision by the British government to control its exportation.
Sodium Thiopental is the barbiturate present in all lethal injection protocols in the various US states: originally the protocols consisted of three drugs, while the new protocols only use one drug.
In the second half of 2010, due to the lack of the base ingredients of the drug, Hospira Inc., the only pharmaceutical company to produce Pentotal in the United States, announced that it would not be be able to distribute it before January-March 2011. Some states are so strained they have had to suspend or delay executions due to the total lack of Pentotal or because of the drug's imminent expiration date, while others have decided to look overseas.
In a memorandum dated September 30, 2010, the Tennessee Department of Correction ordered a quantity of Pentotal provided by a foreign supplier, probably British.
On November 2, 2010, Reprieve, a humanitarian organisation that fights against the death penalty and torture around the world, made the contract of sale public. It provides for the acquisition of 40 grams of Sodium Thiopental, sufficient for four 'applications' or doses, at the price of 18million dollars. The state of Arizona bought a quantity of Pentotal produced by a pharmaceutical company in the UK. On October 25, 2010, it used this to execute Jeffrey Landrigan by lethal injection in the Florence Prison in Phoenix, Arizona.
After the decision by the British Government, Hands Off Cain explained that Hospira became the most important source (amongst the few sources) of the drug for American jails. On November 16, 2010, Reprieve made public that Hospira Spa, a subsidiary of the American multinational, was commissioned to produce Pentotal and that, starting from January 2011, would start to export the substance to the USA.
A communique from the society based in Liscate underlined that 'the medicine is not intended for use in capital punishment and Hospira does not support its use in this procedure. In the Spring of 2010, Hospira made contact with the correction institutes in the United States to make known its position, as it had already done on numerous occasions over the years, also when the society was left by Abbott'.
For Giuseppe Riva, delegated administrator of the Milanese organisation, 'it is a completely American problem: it doesn't concern our establishment. Sodium Thiopental is produced for surgical intervention. The use for capital punishment is improper and happens only in the United States. And anyway, it is not the execution that matters, but the phase of the preparation of the prisoner. It is used as an anaesthetic: if we stop its production, they will make others.' 'Those who produce kitchen knives are responsible if someone then uses them to kill?', Riva asked.
In the case of Hospira in Liscate, on November 16, 2010, Greens president Angelo Bonelli presented an expose to the Milan Public Prosecutor's Office. 'Until the drug Sodium Thiopental is stopped and it causes death in violation of the constitution and of international treaties, and with urgency the conditions exist to preventatively seize the drug.'
A similar initiative was made by the Hands Off Cain Secretary Sergio D'Elia. 'If the heads of Hospira Spa in Liscate had knowledge that the drug sent/being sent to the United States is used to kill people, independent of the fact that in the United States the death penalty is administered by the State, they would have to respond to the crime committed - murder, also in the subjective form of the eventual regret', D'Elia wrote in his expose to the Milan Public Prosecutor's Office, prepared by lawyer Giuseppe Rossodivita of the Radical Party.
Hospira's defence, the two organisations said, is 'hypocritical and for many reasons untrue because for years Hospira Inc. has been the exclusive supplier of the anaesthetic for lethal injections. Now, Hospira Spa in Liscate has revealed the chain of production; Pentotal is an obsolete drug in the United States for hospitals.
Finally, Pentotal, the dossier emphasised, is used practically only for lethal injections. It would therefore be a paradox that Italy, while committed at the UN to the universal Moratorium on capital punishment, to make itself complicit in the death penalty in the United States where the shortage of poison for the lethal injection has resulted in a de facto moratorium on executions, made public by the two organisations.'
Those who participated at the press conference, held at the Radical Party headquarters, were:
SANDRA BABCOCK, lawyer, Expert in capital cases, USA, MAYA FOA, Reprieve representative, UK, LIVIA FIRTH, Reprieve Ambassador against the death penalty, UK, OLIVIERO TOSCANI, Photographer, creator of the campaign âWe, on death rowâ, SERGIO DâELIA, Hands Off Cain Secretary, ELISABETTA ZAMPARUTTI, Radical Parliamentarian and Hands Off Cain Treasurer, and ANGELO BONELLI, Greens National President. (Sources: Adnkronos/Ign, 02/12/2010)