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Showing posts from October, 2008

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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Indonesia on edge as bombers face execution

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Indonesia stepped up security around foreign embassies amid fears of attacks as it prepared Friday to execute the 3 Islamists convicted over the Bali nightclub bombings which killed 202 people.

Police revealed they had found and defused 2 bombs in a Balinese Hindu migrant area on Sulawesi island on Wednesday and Thursday as tensions mount ahead of the imminent executions.

"I think there is a connection between this and the execution of Amrozi and others," local police chief Suparni Parto told AFP, referring to bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, who could be executed as early as Saturday.

National police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said extra police had been stationed around embassies in Jakarta, especially the US and Australian missions, as well as sensitive locations across the main island of Java.

"We are increasing security at embassies and public places such as malls," he told reporters, adding that bus terminals, railway stations and houses of worship we…

Execution wrong - even for terrorists

After more than 2 years of delays and legal brinkmanship, it seems it is finally going to happen. In the coming days Indonesian firing squads will shoot the three men sentenced to death for organising the October 2002 Bali bombing. The bureaucratic wheels are turning to provide the time, the place, the personnel, the training, the equipment and the legal authority to kill 3 people.

Many in Australia and Indonesia will applaud the executions, looking to the firing squads to deliver revenge and a measure of emotional release. Some journalists will reach for that dubious cliché and ask whether the victims now have 'closure'. And their deaths will bring an end to the stream of heartless and absurd statements from the men who gained an aura of macabre celebrity from the media attention.

Undeniably these 3 men are criminals, whose actions had a shattering impact on the hundreds of people killed or injured and the thousands who cared for them. Undeniably the bombers deserve harsh punis…

Halloween pardon sought for executed British witches

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Campaigners in London planned to petition the British government Friday for a posthumous pardon for the hundreds of people executed for witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries.

They said Halloween is a good time to highlight the "grave miscarriage of justice" suffered by the men and women falsely accused of being witches.

Their petition asks Justice Minister Jack Straw to recommend that Queen Elizabeth issue a pardon.

"We felt that it was time that the sinister associations held by a minority of people regarding witches and Halloween were tackled head-on," said Emma Angel, head of Angels, a large costume supplier in London.

"We were gobsmacked to discover that though the law was changed hundreds of years ago and society had moved on, the victims were never officially pardoned."

Angels launched a Web site, pardonthewitches.com, to solicit signatures for their petition. They had between 150 and 200 by Friday morning, Angels spokes…

Texas: Gregory Wright executed

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Proclaiming his innocence, condemned prisoner Gregory Wright was executed Thursday evening for the fatal stabbing and robbery of a Dallas-area woman who tried to help him when he was homeless.
"There's been a lot of confusion who done this," Wright said from the death chamber gurney.
Then, as he has for years, he declared a fellow homeless man, John Adams, was responsible for the murder of Donna Vick.
"I never sold anything to anyone. My only act or involvement was not telling on him. John Adams was the one that killed Donna Vick. The evidence proves that. ... I was in the bathroom when he attacked. I ran into the bedroom. By the time I came in, when I tried to help her with first aid it was too late."
He said an innocent man was being put to death and said he loved his family. "I'll be waiting on y'all. I am finished talking."
9 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. CDT.
Wright, 42, was 1 of 2 homeless me…

Government warned about hypocrisy over Bali bombers

LAWYERS representing Australians on death row in Indonesia have urged the Rudd Government to signal its in-principle opposition to the imminent execution of the Bali bombers, or risk being "objectively identified as hypocrites" across Asia.

Colin McDonald QC, who represents Bali Nine member Scott Rush, said the Rudd Government needed to speak with one voice in condemning capital punishment or it would be harder to save Australian lives in the future.

"In practical terms, it makes it so much harder to save the lives of Australian citizens when there is apparent political ambivalence about the carrying-out of the death penalty overseas," he said.

Kevin Rudd told Neil Mitchell yesterday on Melbourne Radio 3AW that his Government was "universally opposed to the death penalty", but would intervene only "in the case of Australian citizens".

Barrister Julian McMahon, who acted for Australian drug trafficker Van Nguyen, 25, who was hanged in Singapore in 20…

Scandal in Louisiana’s Criminal Courts

There’s a major scandal brewing in Louisiana’s criminal justice system.

Since 1994, Chief Judge Edward Dufresne has been handling the appeals of indigent Louisiana convicts who had to file their own briefs. Last year, the aid Dufresne had assigned to handle those appeals committed suicide. According to his suicide note, Jarrold Peterson killed himself in part because of the guilt he faced over what he had been asked to do as part of his job.

Peterson sent a posthumous letter to Louisiana’s Judiciary Commission with a damning allegation. He said Dufresne had instructed him to deny every appeal not prepared by an attorney. Peterson said he was instructed to write up and file the denials without every showing the appeals to the judges. Peteson handled about 2,400 such cases in the 13 years he was in charge of them.

The Louisiana Supreme Court will now decide if the investigation of the allegations and the review of those cases will be handled by another circuit, and outside panel, or…

Veteran Detective Points to the Possibility of Wrongful Convictions

Jim Trainum, a police officer of over 25 years, recently discussed how shocked he was to discover how he and other officers were able to obtain a confession to murder from an innocent woman. Trainum explained, “Reviewing the tapes years later, I saw that we had fallen into a classic trap. We ignored evidence that our suspect might not have been guilty, and during the interrogation we inadvertently fed her details of the crime that she repeated back to us in her confession.”

Detective Trainum recently wrote about this danger and adocated a possible reform in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, arguing for the videotaping of police interrogations. Trainum said he never understood why someone would admit to a crime he or she didn’t commit until he secured such a false confession in the murder case.

Trainum indicated this experience was a turning point for him personally and professionally. He acknowledged that without the discovery and verification of the woman’s solid alibi, she probabl…

Rudd confirms death penalty opposition as Bali executions loom

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Kevin Rudd (pictured) has reaffirmed Australia's opposition to the death penalty as the Bali bombers await execution, while describing the terrorists as callous murderers.

Risking the anger of victims' relatives in the lead-up to the execution, the Prime Minister has unequivocally stated the federal Government's position after backbenchers complained he needed to make it clear.

"Well, the Bali bombers are murderers," he said today. "Many... have been affected by their murderous, cowardly and callous act. It's appalling.

"But I am not going to pretend to you that our policy on the death penalty has changed."

The Government has also warned there may be an increased risk of terrorist activity in Indonesia as the execution looms, warning Australians to think carefully before travelling to the region.

Mr Rudd said his position remained clear - that Australia would not intervene to oppose the executions and would only make special represenations on behalf…

Yemen: two executed

Ismail Lutef Huraish and his cousin Ali Mussara’a Muhammad Huraish were executed this morning. They had exhausted all their appeal stages, and their death sentences had been ratified by the President.

Ismail Lutef Huraish and Ali Mussara’a Muhammad Huraish were sentenced to death in 2000 for a murder committed in 1998. They were reportedly arrested on 14 October in a village near the city of Ta’iz, and were charged with murder the following day. The Supreme Court upheld their death sentences in January 2004. In December 2005 Amnesty International called on the President not to ratify the death sentences against the men (see UA 301/05, 1 December 2008).

Since his arrest, Ismail Lutef Huraish, who was deaf and illiterate, had not been given access to sign-language interpretation. Therefore, at no point in the judicial process was he able to give his own account of events or to respond to allegations that he was involved in the murder. According to his lawyer, he was convicted solely on th…

Texas: Shameful record of executions

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Imagine being sentenced to 50 years in the state penitentiary. Then consider how you might feel what kind of person you might have become as you reached the halfway point of your scheduled time in prison, marking off the calendar year 25 of being behind bars.

Now, imagine that you were innocent of the crime for which you had been convicted.

You might think that it couldn't get any worse than that, right?

Well, picture this: You're not just in a regular penitentiary cell, but on death row and even scheduled to die for a crime you did not commit.

Horrible, nightmarish images all.

Sadly there are too many people in this country, and particularly in Texas, who cannot only envision those and similar scenarios, but have lived them.

Only God knows how many innocent people have been wrongly convicted, although any one would be too many. We do know there is a growing list of individuals who have been exonerated through DNA testing, generally coming after the "victim" of the…

Plight of Iran's death-row youngsters

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Mohammad Mostafaie has a burden probably unique in the world.

He is the defence lawyer for 25 young people, all facing the death penalty.

The files lie thick on his desk. The young clients all stare blankly out in passport photos he spreads out on the table.

This is Iran, the world leader in the execution of juveniles.

It is one of the last remaining countries that still imposes the death penalty on children, for crimes committed under the age of 18.

No-one knows exactly how many juveniles have been executed in Iran in recent years.

International human rights groups say at least 6 have been killed in 2008.

Mr Mostafaie says 26 juveniles have been executed in the last 2 years. More than 120 are now under imminent threat.

'Ideal son'

Take the case of Mostafa Naqdi.

His mother Shahnaz will tell you he is a good Muslim, and an ideal son, who gave up school and worked all hours to help support his family.

One day in 2004, he was riding his motorcycle when he stopped outside a school in an are…

Saudi Arabia: death sentences confirmed

The Court of Cassation has confirmed the death sentence against Canadian national Mohamed Kohail and Jordanian national Mehanna Sa’d. Their sentences will now have to be approved by the Supreme Judicial Council. If approved, the two men could be executed at any time.

Sultan Kohail is still awaiting retrial at a General Court. Amnesty International has previously expressed concern that if he were retried at a General Court, Sultan Kohail could be sentenced to death, despite the fact that he is 17 years old. Saudi Arabia is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which prohibits the execution of those under 18 at the time of the crime.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty for a wide range of offences, including some with no lethal consequences, and does so following trials which invariably fall short of the most basic international standards. Hearings are often held in secret, and defendants are barely permitted any formal legal representa…

Texas: Eric Nenno executed

A former plumbing supply salesman convicted of snatching a 7-year-old girl from his neighborhood then strangling and raping her and hiding her body in his attic was executed Tuesday.

Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Eric Nenno replied, "No, warden."

8 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. CDT.

The girl's father and grandfather were among the witnesses, but Nenno did not acknowledge them. Nicole Benton's grandfather walked up to the window separating him from Nenno and then turned around and walked to the back of the chamber.

Nenno, 47, confessed to the abduction and attack on Nicole 2 days after she disappeared from her dad's birthday party almost 14 years ago. Then he led officers to her remains in his home in Hockley, about 35 miles northwest of Houston.

"It's a parent's worst nightmare," Joan Huffman, the Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Nenno at his 1996 tria…

France : suicides en série dans les prisons

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L'actu de Bar en blog

A lire également sur ce blog : France, l'indignité carcérale (2007)

11th Circuit granted Troy Davis provisional stay of execution

On 24 October, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted Troy Davis a provisional stay of execution. He had been scheduled to be put to death on 27 October. He has been on death row for 17 years for a crime he maintains he did not commit.

Troy Davis had exhausted his ordinary appeals against his conviction and death sentence, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had denied clemency. On 22 October, Davis's lawyers applied to the 11th Circuit Court for an emergency stay of execution and for permission to file a second habeas corpus petition, maintaining that his execution would be unconstitutional.

In its decision issued on 24 October, the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit stated that "entry of a stay on a second... habeas petition is a drastic measure," but "upon our thorough review of the record, we conclude that Davis has met the burden for a provisional stay of execution." The court then ordered the parties to address the question of wh…

Somalia: execution by stoning

A woman in Somalia has been stoned to death after an Islamic Sharia law court found her guilty of adultery.

The woman was buried up to her neck and then pelted to death with stones in front of a large crowd in Kismayo.

It was the 1st such execution in the southern port city since Islamist insurgents captured it from government-allied forces in August.

A local Islamist leader said the woman, Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, had pleaded guilty to committing adultery.

"She was asked several times to review her confession but she stressed that she wanted Sharia law and the deserved punishment to apply," said Sheikh Hayakallah.

A group of men performed the execution in one of the city's main squares in front of thousands of people, AFP news agency said.

Source: Agence France Presse

Two more hangings in Japan

Today (Oct. 28), 2 death row inmates were executed in Japan: one in Fukuoka and the other in Sendai.

Michitoshi KUMA, age 70, was condemned to death in October 2006 by the Supreme Court. He was accused of murdering 2 young girls (both 7 years old) in February 1992. He claimed his innocence throughout the trial butcourts found him guilty based on the result of DNA test conducted by police, while the other result of the test by Teikyo University was negative.

Masahiro TAKASHIO. Age 55, was originally sentenced to life imprisonment by Iwaki Branch of Fukushima District Court,

But Sendai High Court overturned the decision and sentenced him to death. He withdrew his appeal to the Supreme Court and the sentence became final.

He is the 1st executed inmate who's original sentence was life imprisonment AND whose sentence was convicted without exhausting his right to appeal after executions were resumed in 1993. He was accused of murdering 83-year-old mother and her 55-year-old daughter and rob…

Indonesia tightens security ahead of execution of Bali bombers

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Indonesia has stepped up security at major installations across the country to guard against possible attacks ahead of the execution next month of 3 Bali bombers, police said on Monday.

"National police issued an order for all regional police across Indonesia to boost security in vital installations to anticipate possible sabotage or terror attacks," national police detective chief Susnoduaji told AFP.

Officials have said the 3 extremists convicted for the 2002 Bali bombings would be executed in early November.

Extremists Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra (pictured) face a firing squad over the attacks on packed nightspots on the resort island which killed 202 people, mainly foreign holidaymakers.

They were sentenced to death in 2003 but their execution has been repeatedly delayed by a string of failed appeals and religious considerations.

Susnoduaji said the vital installations under increased security included major contributors to economy such as power plants and fuel depots of…

Zero margin for error

In the column originally prepared for this space, I said that Troy Davis was scheduled to die Monday—to be killed, actually, by an executioner for the State of Georgia.

But—stop the presses!—that's no longer accurate. On Monday, Davis, 40, will still be alive. Or at least, he won't be dead because of anything the state did. That's because on Friday, an appeals court granted him a stay. If his next round of legal actions is unsuccessful, Davis will once again face death.

This is Davis' third stay, his third hairbreadth escape from execution. If there is any justice, it will be his last. Meaning not that he will be killed, but that he won't, that Georgia will finally come to its senses.

Davis was convicted in the 1989 death of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah, Ga., police officer who was trying to break up a parking lot altercation when he was shot. But Davis is connected to the crime by no forensic evidence whatsoever. He stands condemned solely on the word of ni…

Iran: public hanging in Gilan province

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October 22, 2008: A young man identified as Qanbar Kelari was hanged in public outside Nashtaroud prison in the northern province of Gilan. The 34-year-old Kelari cried, "I am innocent", but that did not save him from facing the gallows minutes later.

The crowd watching the hanging turned against the security forces and local judiciary officials carrying out the sentence. The clashes between Nashtaroud residents and State Security Forces lasted for hours stopping transfer of the prisoner's corpse from the scene.

On January 31, the mullahs' judiciary chief, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered death penalty should be carried out behind close doors.

"We have repeatedly seen that people expressed sympathy with the person who was going to be hanged in public. People even expressed their abhorrence at the execution of the sentence," said the assistant prosecutor for sentences in Tehran's criminal prosecution office, the state-run daily Javan reported on January 3…

Nine executioners

"The assessment of the death penalty, however well designed the system for doing so, remains a human endeavor with a consequent risk of error that may not be remediable." Judge Carolyn King of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2006.

Having reported on the Supreme Court in books and columns for decades, I am well aware of King's assessment, but never before have I seen such an outright denial of fundamental justice as, on Oct. 14, when the Supreme Court sent Troy Anthony Davis to be executed.

This case, Davis' lawyers told the Supreme Court in July, "allows this court an opportunity to determine what it has only before assumed: that the execution of an innocent man is constitutionally abhorrent." In this country and around the world, the basic fairness of Davis' conviction has been questioned by, among others, conservative former Congressman Bob Barr, a strong supporter of the death penalty; Pope Benedict XVI; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa…

Execution of Georgia Man in Killing of Officer Is Stayed a Third Time

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court on Friday halted the execution of a Georgia inmate convicted in the 1989 killing of a police officer, the third time in 16 months that a stay of execution has been ordered in the case.

The inmate, Troy A. Davis, 40, was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Monday for the murder of Mark A. MacPhail, a Savannah police officer.

In deciding to consider a new hearing for Mr. Davis, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, asked his lawyers to prove that no reasonable person today would find him guilty.

Since Mr. Davis’s conviction in 1991, seven witnesses have recanted their testimony, including two who said they had felt pressure by the police to testify against Mr. Davis and three who said a different man had admitted to the killing. Prosecutors presented no DNA evidence or murder weapon, although they linked bullet casings found at the scene to a gun they said Mr. Davis had used in an earlier shooting.

The case has bounced aro…

Court issues stay of execution for Troy Davis

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The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Friday stayed the execution of Troy Anthony Davis, who was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection Monday evening.

“Upon our thorough review of the record, we conclude that Davis has met the burden for a stay of execution,” the court said in a ruling issued by Judges Joel Dubina, Rosemary Barket and Stanley Marcus.

Davis, 40, recently lost an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Davis is on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989, murder of 27-year-old Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony.

The defendant’s claims of innocence have drawn opposition to his execution from leaders across the globe, including former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI.

Davis’ lawyers expressed relief and jubilation over the court’s decision.

“This is the first step toward a court hearing to consider the new evidence — something we have been asking for for almos…

Bali bombers' executions set for November

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Three men convicted of carrying out two nightclub bombings that killed 202 people on the resort island of Bali six years ago will be executed by firing squad next month, Indonesian authorities said.

"The Bali bombers' legal avenue has been exhausted," said Jasman Pandjaitan, a spokesman for Indonesia's attorney general.

"All material and formal preparation for execution has been fulfilled, and the attorney general's office has decided to carry out the execution at the beginning of November 2008," Pandjaitan said.

A spokesman for the defense team said lawyers questioned the attorney general's announcement.

"The attorney general's statement about the finality of the legal process is unclear and has no legal base," the defense team spokesman said.

Defense lawyers will seek a judicial review of the case, he said.

The men showed neither fear nor remorse in a recent interview with CNN. They asked to be beheaded, saying …

Iran : juvenile offenders executions - exécution des mineurs

IRAN: Juvenile offenders

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty denounces the new decision of the Iranian government to continue sentencing juvenile offenders to death for murder. It deplores that Iran went back on its first statement and urges the Iranian government to respect its international commitments and to completely abolish capital punishment for juvenile offenders regardless of the offence allegedly committed.

On October 16, following Ayatollah Shahroudi’s circular, Hossein Zabhi, the Assistant Attorney General for Judicial Affairs in Iran announced that no one under the age of 18 would be sentenced to death any longer, irrespective of the type of crime allegedly committed. Such a circular, however, is not legally binding and its application remains unsure as it happened in the past for the circular banning stoning.

Iran ratified both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child years ago. They both prohibit the d…

Time’s running out for Scott

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BRISBANE priest Fr Tim Harris has visited Bali’s Kerbokan Prison “Death Row Tower” in what he fears is a last-ditch effort to save the life of convicted drug trafficker Scott Rush.

Fr Harris, of Corinda-Graceville parish, who left for Bali with Scott’s father Lee Rush and another parishioner Pat Cunningham last Monday, is also hoping he will be allowed to give the young man Holy Communion and an anointing.

“However, Bali being part of a Muslim country, it’s possible that Scott’s captors may not understand the significance of the sacraments and I may be refused permission to do this,” Fr Harris said.

“If I can’t do this, at the very least I’ll give Scott a special blessing if this is his wish.”

Fr Harris said he was terribly concerned that Scott’s life was in danger as the clock ticked down to the execution of the Bali bombers.

“I fear that once the bombers are executed it’s likely that Scott and other Australians currently on death row may be next,” he said.

“I’m hoping if Scott’s plight ca…