Nebraska obtained execution drug legally: state official

OMAHA, Neb Mon Jan 9, 2012 7:16pm EST

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OMAHA, Neb (Reuters) - Nebraska obtained its supply of a drug used in executions of death row inmates legally and executions should proceed, state Attorney General Jon Bruning said on Monday.

Bruning, a Republican candidate seeking to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, said documents filed with the Nebraska Supreme Court showed the state had obtained the drug legally from a broker after the manufacturer had been paid.

Nebraska has had difficulty obtaining sodium thiopental from a European manufacturer, which objects to the anesthetic's use in executions. The drug is no longer manufactured in the United States.

Swiss drug manufacturer Naari has said it was duped out of vials of sodium thiopental, which were sold to Nebraska by a pharmaceutical broker in Calcutta, India.

Bruning has said that all legal requirements were met, but has not responded directly to the manufacturer's allegations that the drug was diverted from medicinal use in Africa when it was sold by the broker.

Bruning filed a paper trail on Monday with the state Supreme Court regarding the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services' importation of the sodium thiopental. He said in his filing that Nebraska had acted in good faith.

Death row inmate Michael Ryan filed a motion in December asking the state to prove it holds the sodium thiopental legally -- one day after the Nebraska Supreme Court denied his request to halt his execution.

Bruning asked the Supreme Court to reject Ryan's "frivolous allegation" that the drug was stolen and to set an execution date.

Bruning's office said in November that state corrections officials complied with all federal regulations in importing the drug. Corrections officials never said the drug was purchased directly from the Swiss company.

The state paid $5,411 for the drug. Bruning provided copies of vouchers and checks in his Monday court filing showing that Naari was paid via the broker.

(Editing by David Bailey, Greg McCune and Paul Thomasch)

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