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Texas court rejects order by Bush in death-row case

HOUSTON -- A state appeals court chastised President Bush for intervening in the case of a condemned killer born in Mexico, one of several dozen cases in which Bush ordered new hearings amid international complaints.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday rejected the argument from Jose Ernesto Medellin that he was denied legal help specified in international treaties.

Medellin, 31, who spent most of his life in Texas, was sentenced in 1994 to die for the rapes and killings of two teenage girls.

"We hold that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority by intruding into the independent powers of the judiciary," the court said in a 64-page ruling.

Spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the Justice Department was reviewing the ruling.

Medellin was supported in his appeal by dozens of countries, legal groups, and human rights organizations, as well as former US diplomats and the European Union. Much of the international community is opposed to capital punishment .

At issue overall was how much weight US courts should give to decisions of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which ruled that the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexican-born prisoners violated the 1963 Vienna Convention. The pact requires consular access for foreigners arrested in the United States.

In February 2005, Bush ordered new state court hearings for all 51 prisoners.

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