Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The Serbian government has requested that the State of Nevada halt the scheduled execution of a Serbian man, Avram Nika, and grant him a writ of habeas corpus because Nika was not provided his consular notification rights under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), to which both the US and Serbia belong. The case stems from a 1994 conviction of Nika for the killing of a person who stopped to help him along the highway when his vehicle broke down. The Serbian government contends that it never received notice of Nika's arrest and that it would have provided assistance had it been notified that might have helped Nika avoid the death penalty. In its defense, the Nevada district attorney has stated that Serbia did not exist as a country in 1994 and that it was unclear what consulate should have been notified. Nika has filed a petition for habeas corpus alleging that his counsel provided ineffective assistance for failure to ensure consular notification and assistance, an argument that has been effective in some other consular notificaiton cases. See, e.g., Osagiede v. U.S., 543 F.3d 399 (7th Cir. 2008). Serbia's amicus brief in connection with Nika's petition for habeas corpus may be found here.