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World Court Rules Against US in Consular Rights Case

The United Nations' highest court has ruled that the United States violated the court's order last year when authorities in Texas executed a Mexican national convicted of rape and murder.

The International Court of Justice said in a unanimous ruling Monday that U.S. authorities should have reviewed the case of Jose Medellin, who was not granted consular access during his trial for the 1993 rape and murder of two girls.

A legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State, John Bellinger told reporters Monday that Medellin's case had been reviewed numerous times by state and federal courts. He said he was satisfied with the judgment apart from the criticism of Medellin's execution.

Texas authorities said Medellin's arrest, trial and sentencing complied with state, national and international laws, and there was no reason to stop the execution.

The World Court also said the United States is obligated to abide by the court's 2004 order to review the cases of nearly 50 other Mexican nationals sentenced to death and determine whether the lack of access to Mexican diplomats affected their cases.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President George Bush overstepped his authority by ordering Texas to comply with the 2004 international court ruling and re-open its case against Medellin.

Under the 1963 Vienna Convention, foreign nationals have the right to speak with their country's consulate after their arrests.

The rights group, Human Rights Watch, has called on the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to comply with the World Court judgment, as a show of respect for international law.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.