LONDON – Timothy McVeigh's execution by U.S. authorities drew sharp denunciations Monday from traditional critics of the death penalty, especially in Europe — but some of those watching from elsewhere around the world said the punishment fit the crime.
Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group that has long led an international crusade against capital punishment, called the execution of McVeigh — convicted of blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City six years ago, killing 168 people — a "failure of human rights leadership at the highest levels of government" in the United States.
"The U.S.A ... has allowed vengeance to triumph over justice," Amnesty said in a statement.
Some, however, said the death penalty was justified.
"I agree with the decision to execute him," said Bruce Kao, a technician in Taipei. "I believe in an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
At the hour of McVeigh's execution, it was the top story on many national TV networks across the globe. In Italy, state RAI television opened its hourly newscast at 2 p.m. — 8 a.m. EDT — by telling viewers McVeigh would receive a lethal injection at any moment.
In Europe — where there is widespread opposition to the death penalty and the practice is outlawed by the 15-nation European Union — the execution was almost universally viewed with distaste.
"Assassination of an Assassin," the French left-leaning newspaper Liberation headlined, with a full-page photo of McVeigh on its cover. The German mass-circulation Bild said it had "no pity" for McVeigh, but in an editorial argued strongly against the death penalty.
"Even justified killing makes us murderers," it said. "No one can be master over life and death ... we must say no to the avenging beast in us."
In Israel, where news of the ongoing violence with the Palestinians dominates the headlines and the airwaves, the execution garnered very little attention. It was far down in the list of hourly headlines on Israel radio, which is listened to avidly throughout the country.
A small group of protesters staged an anti-death-penalty demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. The Vatican, which speaks out strongly against capital punishment, had no immediate comment on the execution.