Washington (AFP) - The governor of Nebraska, citing public safety concerns, on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have ended the death penalty in the western American state.
Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said repealing capital punishment "sends the wrong message" to the "overwhelming" number of Nebraskans who want to see it remain the law of the state.
"Under this bill, there is no guarantee that convicted murderers will stay behind bars for life or not harm other innocent victims," he said.
Nebraska was on track to become the first conservative state in four decades to abolish the death penalty when its legislature voted 32-15 on May 20 for its repeal.
Eleven people remain on death row in the state, which last executed a convict in 1997.
Abolitionists are hoping the legislature can overturn the governor's veto -- which would require 30 votes to succeed -- as early as Wednesday.
Eighteen out of 50 US states have officially abolished the death penalty, and several others have ceased carrying out executions though capital punishment remains legal.
Last year, 80 percent of executions in the United States were concentrated in the states of Texas, Missouri and Florida.