Joaquin Martinez and his wife Sara

Joaquin Martinez and his wife Sara Pérez, the parents of Joaquin José Martinez who is being held in jail in Tampa Florida, are in Palma to raise funds for their son's defence. Martinez had been on death row, but thanks to the efforts of his parents and a campaign led by Deputy Manuel Jaen Palacios, he is to be retried. Last night his parents were guests of honour at a fund-raising dinner which was attended by 600 people. Earlier in the day they had visited the local authorities. In the Balearic parliament, they were received by second vice president Francisca Bennássar and the spokespersons of the various parliamentary groups. They were also received by chief minister Francesc Antich. At a brief press conference, Joaquin Martinez took the opportunity to call on ETA, the Basque terrorist group, to stop the killing. “We do not have the death penalty in our Constitution in Spain,” he said, “but we continue to have the death penalty...because it is just as much an execution if it is done by the State or any group, within or outside the law, with any ideology.” He added “we must fight to end the death penalty whatever its form.” Commenting on the retrial of his son, accused of a double murder, he said that the family needs about 80 million pesetas to cover the legal costs. Although they have only raised 13 million pesetas since the campaign started in July, Sr Martinez is convinced that they will finally raise the necessary sum. Both parents said that they have never lost the hope of seeing their son acquitted “because we know he never committed the crimes he is accused of.” They said that it was the first time that the State of Florida has evoked a death sentence by the unanimous decision of the seven judges. In 1997, Joaquin José Martinez was found guilty of murdering drug trafficker Douglas Lawson by shooting him five times and stabbing striptease dancer Sherrie McKoy-Ward 23 times. The sentence was revoked this year, because of irregularities in the original trial and mistakes by the defence. Mr and Mrs Martínez were also received by Pere Serra, president of Grupo Serra, the Bulletin's publishing group. Tomorrow they are due to be received by Mayor of Palma Joan Fageda.