Angel Francisco Breard will die today.

Within a few hours after this is posted, Angel Francisco Breard will be dead. He is a Paraguayan citizen with no prior criminal record.

In 1985, Breard sustained serious head injuries in a car accident, which rendered him unconscious for several days. On 17 February 1992, Ruth Dickie was assaulted and stabbed to death in her apartment. Breard was arrested and charged with attempted rape and capital murder. He has never denied his involvement in the murder. However, he has always insisted that he committed the murder because of a satanic curse placed on him by his former father-in-law. He believed that the jury would be more lenient if he admitted committing the crime and expressed his remorse to them. This belief was based on his impression of trial procedures in his native Paraguay. He was sentenced to death on June 25, 1993.

Angel Francisco Breard
Will Die by Lethal Injection Today

The Consulate of the Government of Paraguay was not notified that Breard was even in custody until 1996, three years after the death sentence had been passed. This was a clear violation of the obligations of the United States under an international treaty, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

In a brief filed late Monday, the Clinton administration told the justices of the United States Supreme Court that despite an order last week by the International Court of Justice that the United States "take all measures at its disposal" to stop Virginia from executing a Paraguayan citizen, there was no legal basis for granting requests by Paraguay and the prisoner for a stay of execution.

Americans are arrested overseas frequently. Each country in which Americans travel know that when an American is arrested, the US Consulate must be notified immediately. Having a consular officer come to the jail cell shortly after the arrest and then make periodic inquiries into the status of the case is an important factor in securing the release of Americans from custody abroad.

There is no doubt that had the Government of Paraguay been informed that Breard was in jail, he would not have been convicted at all and, if convicted, he would have received a much lesser sentence than death.

For example, the Government of Paraguay would have been in the best position to inform Breard that his defense, which was that he was "under a satanic curse", would not get him off the charges in Virginia. Rather, that defense virtually guaranteed that religiously fanatical Virginia would order his execution.

The reason why Breard has almost no hope absent a miracle of escaping the death sentence today is that Virginia has constructed a web of rules which make it almost impossible for any wrongfully accused person to defend himself. In the case of Breard, his habeas corpus claims will fail because of the Virginia rule on "procedural default". The way this rule works is that there is one time and one time only when a particular sort of defense can be raised.

For example, the defense of inadequate representation of counsel is procedurally barred in a criminal appeal in Virginia, although this defense is considered valid in all of the other 49 states. Indeed, inadequate representation of counsel is probably the leading grounds for appellate reversal in the other states. The fact that this ground is not allowed in Virginia is probably the main reason why criminal convictions are almost never overturned in Virginia.

In addition, Virginia is the only state which has not waived its Eleventh Amendment right to Sovereign Immunity. As a result, Virginia is not subject to federal laws which apply to the other states. At the same time, because Virginia is not a country, it is not subject to international law as well.

Marv Albert
Was never allowed to inform the Virginia jury of his defenses

Furthermore, as sports broadcaster Marv Albert found out last year, 90% of the defenses which the courts will entertain in other states are not allowed in Virginia. For example, in Albert's case, he was not allowed to inform the jury that the prosecutrix against him had offered to bribe a witness $50,000 to lie to the jury about Albert. The prosecutrix made it clear that this $50,000 would come from the profits she expected to reap from selling her story after Albert was convicted.

Albert's attorney, who was from another state, was flabbergasted when he learned that the judge would not allow the jury to learn anything negative about the background of the only witness against Albert. Albert was eventually forced to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than risk many years in prison, in a case which would have been entirely thrown out of court in any normal state.

These are not isolated examples. The prisons of Virginia are filled with thousands of innocent inmates who would never have been convicted in any other state.

As I see it, Virginia will continue to engage in these criminal acts until something very dramatic occurs. What needs to happen, in my view, is that the present Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore , who was also the Attorney General of Virginia when Angel Francisco Breard was tried and convicted, needs to be prosecuted by the International Court of Justice. Gilmore, who has ordered the execution of Angel Francisco Breard in clear violation of international law, needs to be picked up and transported to stand trial in The Hague, just the same way that Bosnian Serb War Criminals are picked up and held for trial there.

I must mention that I have a particular reason for interest in this subject, because James Gilmore was also involved in the kidnapping of my daughter, Shamema Honzagool Sloan, from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 1990.

Sam Sloan

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