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US execution drug not banned for export: EU

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(BRUSSELS) - A drug exported to the United States and used in an Arizona execution this week is not on a list of goods used for capital punishment that are banned for trade, a European Union spokeswoman said Thursday.

The EU prohibits the trade in goods used for capital punishment, torture and ill-treatment but sodium thiopental is not listed as being prohibited, said a spokeswoman for EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton.

"Instead it is on a list of essential drugs of the World Health Organisation used widely, for anesthesia, induced comas and psychiatry," said Maja Kocijancik.

Arizona executed Jeffrey Landrigan for a 1989 murder late Tuesday despite a a US shortage of the anaesthetic normally used, sodium thiopental, one of three components of the lethal injection.

The US state said it had to use a foreign-made import of the drug after this was cleared by the US Supreme Court.

The only British company licensed to sell the anaesthetic on Thursday denied exporting the drug, after an official in the United States said it came from Britain.

The EU spokeswoman meanwhile reiterated the bloc's opposition to capital punishment.

"We express our profound regret at every execution and call upon all states to work to develop systems of justice and reparations for victims of violence and murder that do not require additional deaths," she said.

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