A British man who has spent 21 years on death row in the US is to be freed after agreeing to a plea bargain. Kenney Richey was convicted in 1987 of starting a fire that killed a two-year-old girl. The 43-year-old was given 13 separate dates for execution and at one point had his head shaved in readiness.
But his murder conviction was overturned on appeal in August and he has now agreed not to fight lesser charges. Richey, who was once just an hour away from the electric chair, is expected to fly back to Scotland and spend Christmas with his mother.
Death penalty opponents say the news vindicates their stance. It comes just days after the UN passed a resolution calling for a moratorium as a step towards abolishing all executions.
The move was hailed by opponents of capital punishment and criticized by supporters, including the US, Iran and China. The news has also been welcomed in Italy, where the Colosseum was lit up last night in support of the US state of New Jersey, as it became the first for 40 years to abolish executions.
Once the arena for deadly combat and executions, the roman monument has become a symbol of the fight against the death penalty.