RENO, Nev., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The Serbian government has appealed to a U.S. court to spare the life of a Serbian citizen currently facing execution in Nevada, officials said.
The Serbian consulate said it was not informed about the arrest of Avram Nika as required by international law, and the Serbian government maintains such notification would have meant Nika could have received assistance that may have spared him the death penalty, Serbian news agency Tanjug reported Tuesday.
Such assistance should have been available to Nika because of his inability to speak English and his lack of familiarity with the U.S. legal system, Serbia's brief filed in a Reno court says.
"The failure to notify the consulate caused no mitigating evidence to be presented at his sentencing hearing, such as that he was a hard-working family man who came from poverty and was discriminated against because he is a member of a nomadic ethnic group known as Roma," the brief says.
Nika, 41, was convicted of the 1994 killing of a man who stopped to help him on a highway near Reno.
Washoe County Reno District Attorney Dick Gammick said there was no consulate to contact, as the former Yugoslavia where Nika was from "was falling apart at the time."