California's execution of Stanley Tookie Williams on Tuesday outraged many in Europe who regard the practice as barbaric, and politicians in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's native Austria called for his name to be removed from a sports stadium in his hometown.
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI's top official for justice matters denounced the death penalty for going against redemption and human dignity.
"We know the death penalty doesn't resolve anything," Cardinal Renato Martino told. "Even a criminal is worthy of respect because he is a human being. The death penalty is a negation of human dignity."
Capital punishment is illegal throughout the European Union, and many Europeans consider state-sponsored executions to be barbaric. Those feelings were amplified in the case of Williams, due to the apparent remorse they believe the Crips gang co-founder showed by writing children's books about the dangers of gangs and violence.
Leaders of Austria's pacifist Green Party went as far as to call for Schwarzenegger to be stripped of his Austrian citizenship - a demand that was quickly rejected by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel despite his government's opposition to the death penalty.
Williams was executed early Tuesday at California's San Quentin State Prison after Schwarzenegger denied Williams' request for clemency. Schwarzenegger suggested that Williams' supposed change of heart was not genuine because he had not shown any real remorse for the killings committed by the Crips, the AP reports.
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