Arnold Schwarzenegger writes letter pledging love to his homeland

No matter what people in his birthplace might think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California governor says he will always be an Austrian at heart.

Schwarzenegger, whose refusal to block the recent executions of convicted murderers on California's death row triggered a furor in his native Austria, wrote a letter pledging his devotion to the southern province of Styria where he was born, a regional official said Saturday.

Hermann Schuetzenhoefer, a top official in Styria, said he had written to the governor in December to express his personal support, and that Schwarzenegger recently had replied that politics would never get in the way of his love of country.

"I always have been, and always will be, a Styrian at heart," Schuetzenhoefer quoted the action star-turned-politician as writing.

At Schwarzenegger's own request, authorities in his hometown of Graz stripped his name from the southern city's 15,300-seat soccer stadium after the Dec. 13 execution in California of Stanley Tookie Williams, a co-founder of the Crips gang who was convicted of four 1979 murders.

Capital punishment is illegal throughout the European Union, and many Europeans consider state-sponsored executions to be barbaric. Schwarzenegger's decision not to pardon Williams and two other killers recently executed played poorly back in Graz, the official slogan of which is "City of Human Rights."

Offended by how his hometown had spurned him, Schwarzenegger had dashed off a letter to the mayor of Graz ordering his name to be removed from the stadium, a pre-emptive move as calls mounted for the arena to be renamed. Schwarzenegger also returned a ring of honor that Graz officials had given him in 1999, reports AP.


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