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Group urges U.S. to halt execution

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LONDON (Reuters) — Amnesty International appealed to the United States today to stop the execution of Alexander Williams, a mentally ill prisoner who was 17 at the time of his crime.

Scheduled to go to the electric chair next Thursday, Williams, now 31, would be the fifth child offender to be executed in the United States this year, more than in any other year since 1954, Amnesty said in a statement.

The London-based human rights group said sending Williams to the electric chair would be "a cruel, brutalizing and outdated form of state-sanctioned vengeance."

Williams was 17 years old at the time of the murder of 16-year-old Aleta Bunch in 1986.

"Georgia can still stop the execution," Amnesty said.

"To do so is not to insult the memory of Aleta Bunch or to forget the brutal way in which she died. It is to uphold international standards of decency and humanity."

The group said the United States is a "rogue state" on the death penalty issue, flouting a global ban on its use against those under 18 years old at the time of the crime.

"There is almost no other country on the planet where Alex Williams would be put to death," Amnesty said, noting that only Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo are known to have executed child offenders in the past three years.