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Showing posts from November, 2008

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Huntsville, Texas: the execution capital of the free world

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In the execution capital of the free world, death sentences have declined precipitously thanks in part to the institution of life-without-parole sentences.

Juan Leonardo Quintero was on the expressway to Texas death row. Prosecutors had the 34-year-old on video confessing to gunning down a police officer who had just handcuffed him and sat him in the backseat of his patrol car on September 21, 2006. Despite having his hands cuffed behind his back, Quintero had managed to get a grip on a pistol that 40-year-old police officer Rodney Johnson had overlooked during the pre-arrest pat-down. He shot Johnson 4 times in the back of the head while the 12-year police veteran and father of five was filling out the routine paperwork before taking his suspect downtown.

Quintero was in custody in the 1st place because he had no driver's license when Johnson stopped him for speeding. Quintero had no license because he was in the country illegally, for at least the second time. Seven years before…

HELL HOLE NEWS #4, November 25, 2008

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Well, it’s been another lovely two weeks under the guns of senator Whitmire’s little inquisition. This fellow is a real turd. It must really make him feel powerful to attack and smash on death row prisoners who’re restrained and defenseless. Who’ve done nothing to deserve it.

We were put on lockdown yet again, for 5 more days, searched, strip searched, wanded, scanned, strip searched again, had all our property confiscated, even our mattresses and bedding. We were put in empty cells with vents blowing ice cold air all night and left like that until 2:30 AM the next shift. Now many of the guys are sick. Ol’ man Woody was trying to talk to the rank about his property while in cuffs and being held on the run by two field force officers with another behind him. They tried to jerk his eyeglasses out of his hand and slammed him face first into the wall. Captain Bryant walks up and tells him “what the f---k is your problem?” Woody tells him what’s up and the captain gives him grief, t…

Iran court upholds stoning death sentence

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's Supreme Court upheld a stoning death sentence for a woman convicted of adultery in the southern city of Shiraz, an independent newspaper reported Saturday [November 29, 2008].

The daily Etemad Melli, or National Confidence, reported that the court also upheld another death sentence, this one by hanging, against the woman, who was also convicted of killing her husband with the help of a male accomplice.

The man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of being an accomplice in the murder. He was also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, but was not given the death penalty because he was married.

Judiciary officials were not immediately available for comment. It was not known when the slaying took place or when the two were convicted.

While the ruling is final, Iran's judiciary chief or the country's supreme leader are authorized to stop death sentences from being carried out.

Under Iran's Islamic laws, adultery is the only capita…

Cathy Lynn Henderson Inches Closer to Possible New Trial

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Cathy Lynn Henderson (pictured with Sr. Helen Prejean) has been back in the news as her case goes back before a Travis County Judge. As the Save Cathy Henderson site and Austin Legal reported last week, Judge Jon Wisser is holding a series of hearings to decide if Henderson should get a new trial. Six hearings take place throughout November. The prosecutors get their turn in January. At the heart of it: "Henderson's lawyers say new tests show Brandon may have fallen from Henderson's arms and was not intentionally smashed against a wall or floor."

She says it was an accident but the jury believed otherwise, making babysitter Cathy Lynn Henderson the only Travis County woman currently on Texas Death Row.

Just days before her scheduled Wednesday, June 13, 2007 execution, Henderson has been given a reprieve because new evidence might support her claims that 3-month old Brandon Baugh did die in an accidental fall in 1994.

At the Save Cathy Henderson web site you can read …

Iran : dialogue et indifférence

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La semaine écoulée [article publié par iran-resist.org le 23 novembre 2008] s’est achevée sur des annonces fort déplaisantes d’une pendaison d’un espion du Mossad et de la condamnation à mort de 3 poseurs de bombes liés à la Grande-Bretagne.

Si l’authenticité du récit de la pendaison de l’espion du Mossad est discutable, on peut parier que les trois condamnés à mort de l’attentat très suspect de Shiraz seront pendus par les mollahs.

Téhéran affirme chaque jour sa violence, mais cela ne déclenche aucune protestation. Cela est sans doute dû aux efforts des lobbyistes occidentaux du régime qui recommandent sans cesse le dialogue avec Téhéran, un dialogue qui suppose la non ingérence dans les affaires du régime. Les mollahs recevaient d’ailleurs l’un de leur avocat, le justiciable Dominique de Villepin.

A peine Villepin reparti, Téhéran a annoncé la pendaison de l’espion du Mossad et la condamnation à mort de trois jeunes accusés d’un attentat qui a sans doute été perpétré par le régime lui-…

France : un rapport prône la prison à 12 ans

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Un rapport proposant d’avancer à 12 ans l’âge légal d’un possible placement en détention en France a suscité des critiques du Syndicat de la magistrature (SM), classé à gauche. Ce rapport, dont les conclusions sont publiées dans La Croix et Le Parisien, vendredi 28 novembre, a été rédigé par une commission de réflexion installée, en avril 2008, par Rachida Dati [ministre de la Justice] pour réformer l’ordonnance de 1945 sur la justice des mineurs. Déjà modifié trente-et-une fois, ce texte prévoit des peines atténuées pour les mineurs et déclare que l’éducatif doit primer sur le répressif.

Le rapport permet la prison à 12 ans en fixant la responsabilité pénale à cet âge, ce qui signifie qu’en-deçà ne seraient possibles que des mesures éducatives. Le système français actuel ne prévoit aucun âge, la responsabilité étant appréciée au cas par cas suivant le "discernement". Certains pays européens ont un âge déterminé pour l’âge minimal de mise en détention, d’où la réflexion, mais…

China, Iran and Jamaica go against trend on executions

The execution of a Chinese scientist on Friday is the latest in a series of executions that are going against the global trend towards a moratorium on the death penalty.

Wo Weihan, a 59-year-old medical scientist who was found guilty of spying for Taiwan, spent 30 minutes with his family on the day before his execution. It was the 1st time he had been allowed to see his loved ones since being moved to a prison hospital in March 2005.

"He was surprised and very happy to see us. Because he did not know about a looming execution, he was hopeful and did not leave any final words or will with our family," said his daughter Ran Chen.

Wo, who holds several patents for biomedical discoveries, was denied access to a lawyer for 10 months after his detention and sentenced to death after a closed trial in May 2007.

"We, the family, have not been granted the most fundamental and universal right of information about what was happening with our father. The execution was carried out in sec…

China: Wo Weihan executed

China on Friday [November 28, 2008] executed a scientist accused of passing information to Taiwan, triggering condemnation from his family and several countries including the United States.

Wo Weihan, a 59-year-old medical scientist, was put to death on Friday morning, his daughter Ran Chen -- an Austrian citizen married to an American -- said.

"We are deeply shocked, saddened, disappointed and outraged," Chen and her sister Di said in a statement emailed to AFP.

"My father was put to death, so was our hope in the Chinese justice system."

The United States confirmed the execution had taken place and issued a strongly-worded statement denouncing the killing.

"We are deeply disturbed and dismayed by reports that the Chinese government has carried out the death penalty against Wo Weihan," US embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson told AFP.

Wo, a Chinese citizen who previously lived in Austria, was detained in early 2005.

He was accused of leaking state secrets and Che…

Iran : justice aveugle

Un Iranien qui a rendu aveugle une femme ayant refusé sa demande en mariage en lui jetant de l’acide au visage a été condamné par la justice au même châtiment : il devra à son tour être aveuglé des deux yeux par un jet d’acide.

Lire la suite de cet article sur le site de iran-resist.org. Attention : récit et images d'une très grande violence.

Source: iran-resist.org, 28 novembre 2008

Iran: ten hanged in Tehran's Evin prison

November 26, 2008: Iran hanged nine men and a woman convicted of murder in Tehran's Evin prison, the Fars news agency reported.

The official overseeing the execution was quoted as saying "the woman was convicted of killing her temporary marriage husband by cutting him into pieces."

Vatan Emrouz newspaper, identifying the woman as Fatemeh Pajoh, said she was "suspicious" of her temporary husband, but gave no details.

Some Iranian human rights groups have said she killed her husband for raping her daughter.

In Shiite Islam, men and women are permitted to marry on a temporary basis.

Iran's judiciary insists that retribution in murder is a private right and that is up to the victims' families to determine whether the death sentence should be carried out.

Under Iranian law, a murder victim's family can spare a convict's life by accepting blood money. Some families have also been known to forgive a murderer without demanding compensation.

Many of the convict…

Iran : la petite histoire d'une condamnée à mort

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Dimanche dernier [article publié le 27 novembre 2008], Madjid, dont de nom de famille n'a pas été révélé, a été pendue à Bandar Abbas pour trafic de drogue. Hier, le juge Jaberi, le bourreau de la prison Evine (photo ci-dessus) de Téhéran a annoncé la pendaison de dix meurtriers. Il y avait dans ce lot 9 inconnus (1) et une prisonnière célèbre, Fatemeh Haghighat-pajouh, qui végétait dans le couloir de la mort depuis 7 ans, en sursis grâce aux pressions internationales pour empêcher l'exécution de cette mère de famille dont le cas ressemble à celui de beaucoup de femmes en Iran.

Fatemeh Haghighat-pajouh est l’une de ces millions d’Iraniennes démunies qui acceptent de vendre leur corps dans un mariage dit "provisoire", la version chiite de la prostitution. Ce type de mariage n'est destiné qu'à assurer la satisfaction sexuelle de l'époux ou à lui fournir une employée de maison bon marché, qui accepte parallèlement d'avoir des relations sexuelles. En mars…

Hank's Hell Hole News, Nov. 10, 2008

November 10th, 2008

Hi Folks!

I’ve read a lot of stories here lately, and a transcript of the special session of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee run by Mr. Whitmire. I’d liken it to Torquemada during the inquisistion, to say the least.

Lots of things come to light and we see the agit propaganda nature of this; the radical distortion by the news media is sickening. Some people just love to kick someone when they’re down, don’t they. Those on death row are about as “down” as they can get – “among the lowest of the dead” as David Von Drehle says.

Some of them are sadistic indeed and I’ve watched and witnessed their depravity firsthand. It’s particularly galling since I’m not guilty of the crime I’m here for. That aside, the guilty shouldn’t be treated like that either.

Charles Nealy was tortured relentlessly before he was executed, to the point he broke down and cried for days. He suffered that at the hands of our good captain here, assisted by one of his lieutenants. He’s only one…

China executes Shanghai police killer

Chinese authorities announced they had executed an unemployed man on Wednesday who became an unlikely cult hero after murdering 6 policemen in what he said was revenge for a wrongful arrest.

Yang Jia, 28, was executed in Shanghai after China's Supreme People's Court approved the sentence, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

He was convicted in September of going on a stabbing frenzy in a Shanghai police station on July 1 in revenge for apparently being wrongfully detained on suspicion of stealing a bicycle.

He lost an appeal against the sentence last month after judicial proceedings that his supporters said were flawed, complaints that were repeated on Wednesday.

"Yang Jia is dead, there are a lot of holes in the legal process and many unanswered questions," Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing lawyer who closely followed the case, told AFP.

"I just spoke to his father, he's very sad and doesn't want to talk."

The case became a lightning rod for controversy beca…

Louisiana: State supreme court blocks ex-cop's execution date

NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana's Supreme Court has blocked the scheduled Dec. 8 execution of a former police officer convicted of three murders.

Antoinette Frank was convicted and sentenced to death months after she and an 18-year-old accomplice killed her fellow police officer and two others during the robbery of a New Orleans restaurant in 1995.

Her first round of appeals lasted 12 years, amid court fights over whether she had received sufficient expert legal assistance during the penalty phase of her 1995 trial. In a new round of appeals, defense attorneys said they have had too little time to reveiew voluminous documents arising from the case.

The state Supreme Court ruling, made public Wednesday, effectively cancels a death warrant signed by a state judge in September.

Source: The Associated Press

Judges stay December 3 execution of Washington state inmate

YAKIMA, Wash. - Federal and state judges have indefinitely delayed the scheduled Dec. 3 execution of Darold Stenson for the 1993 shooting deaths of his wife and a business partner in Clallam County.

The separate stays were issued Tuesday by judges in federal court in Yakima and in Clallam County Superior Court.

U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko issued his order in a conference call with lawyers. State Attorney General Rob McKenna said his office was asking an appeals court to vacate Suko's order and allow the execution to proceed as scheduled.

Stenson's lawyers this week asked Suko for a temporary restraining order blocking the execution on the grounds that the state last month revised its procedure for administering lethal injections, without previously announcing any changes or going through a rule-making process.

Furthermore, they argued that their client has Type 2 diabetes with veins that are difficult to access, making it more likely that he would suffer pain that constitutes u…

Jamaica's parliament has voted to keep the death penalty

Jamaica's parliament has voted to keep the death penalty, as the Caribbean nation struggles to contain one of the world's highest murder rates.

MPs were allowed a free vote, rather than having to vote along party lines.

Jamaica has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1988 but the governing Jamaica Labour Party, elected last year, has pushed for its return.

Jamaica currently has 9 men on death row. There have been 1,200 murders on the island so far this year.

The vote followed weeks of passionate debate. 34 members of parliament voted in favour of capital punishment, 15 voted against. There were 10 abstentions.

Those opposed wanted improvements to Jamaica's heavily criticised police and justice system, while those in favour pointed to the ever-upward rise in violent crime.

The Jamaica Labour Party was elected with a call to resume hanging immediately.

Concerns had been raised about the risk of sanctions - primarily from the EU - but Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that i…

Rights advocates renew calls on Iran to stop child execution

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Amir Amrollahi didn't have murder in mind when he got involved in a street fight on his way to a bakery in his hometown of Shiraz, his father says.

But the then 16-year-old Amir stabbed another teenager to death and has spent the past three years in jail waiting to be taken to the gallows at any moment.

"He was a good student. He intervened to stop the fight," Bahman Amrollahi said of his son at a Tuesday news conference on child execution organised by the rights group of Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

"I beg the victim's family, now that the law does not forgive, to have mercy on my child," he said, weeping as he recounts his son's suicide attempts in jail.

For years, Ebadi and many other rights advocates have urged Iran to heed its commitment to international conventions on child rights and stop executing offenders for crimes they committed under the age of 18.

Rights groups say there are at least 70 such convicts on death row across Iran, and that 17 …

Iran Nobel winner seeks end to juvenile execution

18-year-old Behnam Zare's last words on his way to be hanged were: "I want to be alive. I am full of remorse. Is there anyone to save me?"

The tape of his final phone call was replayed to journalists, rights activists and tearful parents of those on death row in Iran on Tuesday at a conference to campaign for ending the execution of juvenile offenders.

Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights work in Iran, said Zare was one of at least six juvenile offenders executed by Iran's judiciary since March.

Like the other 6, he was held in a detention centre until he was deemed old enough to be executed without attracting international criticism, she said.

Zare was arrested when 15 after a fight that ended in the death of a schoolmate. He was hanged in October after he turned 18.

"He called me before being executed. He was so scared and begged for help," she said after replaying Zare's last call at the conference, organised by Ebadi…

China: Wo Weihan received confirmation that Supreme Court approved his death sentence

Wo Weihan’s family has received an oral confirmation that the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has approved his death sentence. Wo Weihan’s family is scheduled to meet with him on the morning of 27 November at the Beijing Municipal No 2 Intermediate People’s Court. It is possible that he will be executed as early as that same day.

Wo Weihan was sentenced to death in May 2007 for spying by Beijing Municipal No 2 Intermediate People’s Court, after a closed trial. The Beijing Municipal Higher People’s Court upheld the original sentence on appeal in February 2008. The case was then reviewed by the SPC. According to China’s Criminal Procedure Law, the court of the first instance will be responsible for carrying out the execution.

There are serious concerns that Wo Weihan did not receive a fair trial. During the first ten months of his detention, no one was allowed to meet with him. According to the verdict of his trial, Wo Weihan confessed to the charges while in detention. His family says that …

Indonesia: five more set to die

Indonesia plans to execute five people before the end of this year, including a Nigerian convicted of drug offences.

According to a report by The Jakarta Post, assistant attorney general for general crimes Abdul Hakim Ritonga said the remaining four were Indonesians.

The newspaper said the executions would be carried out on Nusakambangan Island.

Five executions have been carried out on the island since June, with two Nigerians shot for drug trafficking and three Indonesians for terrorism offences.

Assistant attorney general for general crimes Abdul Hakim Ritonga said on 14 November that there were 92 prisoners on death row in Indonesia, although they were at varying stages of their appeals and applications for presidential clemency.

Some 14 had appealed to the president for clemency, 38 had filed judicial reviews and the rest were undecided about their next courses of action.

"The death sentences of the 92 convicts have been declared legally binding and are pending administrative proce…

Iran: three hanged

November 24, 2008: Iran hanged three men convicted of drug trafficking in a prison in the Iranian southeastern city of Zahedan, the official IRNA news agency reports.

The men, identified as Hossein Nahtani, Abdollah Dahmardeh and Mohammad Barahoui, were all found guilty of smuggling heroin, the report adds.

Nahtani was convicted of trafficking 1.09-kilograms [2.4 pounds] of heroin, while Dahmardeh and Barahoui were sentenced for smuggling 3.8-kg [8.3 pounds] and 5.5-kg [12 pounds], respectively.

Source: IranVNC, 24/11/2008

Saudi Arabia: man convicted of murdering family beheaded

November 19, 2008: a Saudi Arabian man was beheaded by the sword after being convicted of murdering his mother, two sisters and other relatives while on drugs.

Mohammed bin Faris al-Mutairy was found guilty of the shooting deaths in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency. Also murdered were his uncle and his father's wife.

Source: Agence France Presse, 19/11/2008

Saudi Arabia: fear of imminent executions

SAUDI ARABIA - Sheikh Mastan (alias Mohammed Salim) (m), aged 30, married with one child
Hamza Abu Bakir (m), aged 47, married with four children

Indian nationals Sheikh Mastan and Hamza Abu Bakir have exhausted all possible appeals against their death sentences. The sentences are now awaiting the approval of the Supreme Judicial Council, which is headed by the King. If the sentences are approved, the two men could be executed within days.

Sheikh Mastan and Hamza Abu Bakir are currently detained in al-Dammam Prison in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. They were arrested in January 2004 on charges of drug possession. In June 2006, they were convicted and sentenced to death by a court in al-Dammam. However, they had no legal representation throughout the judicial process. Very little is known about their trial except that their convictions and sentences are said to have been upheld on appeal.

At least 89 people have been executed so far this year. In 2007 the authorities executed at lea…

Darold Stenson is scheduled to be executed in Washington State on 3 December

Darold Stenson is scheduled to be executed in Washington State on 3 December. He has spent 14 years on death row for two murders committed in 1993.

In the early hours of 25 March 1993, Darold Stenson telephoned the police from his home at Dakota Farms in Clallam County in the west of Washington State, where he ran a business raising and selling exotic birds. He told the operator that "Frank has just shot my wife, and himself, I think". When the police arrived, Darold Stenson took them to a bedroom where his business partner Frank Clement Hoerner was dead on the floor with a bullet wound to the head and a revolver nearby. Stenson then took the police to another bedroom where his wife, Denise Ann Stenson, was on the bed, also with a bullet wound to the head. She was airlifted to hospital, but died the following day.

A subsequent investigation concluded that Hoerner had not killed himself, but had been hit in the head outside and dragged into the bedroom where he had been shot in…