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Showing posts from January, 2012

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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…

Man hanged in Zanjan, western Iran

Iran Human Rights, January 30: One prisoner was hanged in the prison Zanjan (western Iran) early this morning Monday January 30.
According to the state run Iranian news agency Fars, the man who was not identified by name was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death by the revolutionary court in Abhar. 
No further details were given in the report.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 30, 2012

Report: Saudi Arabia seeks swap for royals on Iraqi death row

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Baghdad - Efforts to implement a Saudi-Iraqi prisoner exchange have taken on extra urgency after it became known that three people facing the death penalty in Iraq are members of the Saudi royal family.
Saudi Arabia has been pushing for the exchange of the six Saudi nationals, reported an Iraqi state-run newspaper on Monday.
Iraqi Lawmaker Kamila al-Moussawi told the al-Sabah newspaper that three of the six Saudi nationals currently on death row are members of the royal family.
Saudi Arabia's royalty, the Al Saud family, is composed of thousands of members, though power rests with descendants of Saudi Arabia's founder, King Abdul-Aziz.
'Saudi Arabia seeks a deal with the Iraqi government to exchange them with convicted Iraqis inside the kingdom,' said al-Moussawi, of the National Alliance, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Al-Moussawi's announcement came a few days after Saudi newspaper Al Eqtisadiya reported that the proposed deal would cover 113 Saudi prisoners i…

Saudi Arabia: Convicted drug smuggler beheaded

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January 30, 2012: In Saudi Arabia, a Pakistani man convicted of trying to smuggle drugs into the kingdom was beheaded.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement that Salman Khan Taj Mohammed was put to death for attempting to smuggle what it described as "a large quantity of heroin" into Saudi Arabia.
The state-run Saudi news agency SPA said he had confessed to the crime, was convicted by a court, and the death sentence was approved by the Supreme Court.
The report said he was beheaded in Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia executed 79 people last year.
Source: RadioFreeEurope, January 30, 2012

Two hanged for drug trafficking in Semnan, northern Iran

Iran Human Rights, January 29: Two prisoners were hanged in the prison of Semnan north of Iran today.
According to the official website of the Iranian judiciary the prisoners were identified as "M. J. " (49 year-old) and "H. A." (47 year-old) and were convicted of carrying more than 1100 grams of pure heorin and 6180 grams of concentrated heroin respectively.
The charges have not been confirmed by independent sources.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 29, 2012

Iran: Guardian Council approves new penal legislation

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The Guardian Council has approved the Islamic Penal Code legislation, announcing that it does not contradict the principles of Shari’a or the Islamic Republic constitution.
ISNA reports that Parliament made necessary reforms in the legislation, and the newly approved law will replace the former.
Experts report, however, that the newly approved legislation remains unchanged in terms of penal sentences like stoning, dismemberment and execution of minors, and gender discrimination persists in many of its articles.
The organization, Justice for Iran, said in an earlier statement that approval of this legislation would worsen the already dismal human rights situation in Iran.
“After years of criticism from Iranian and international societies regarding numerous points of blatant violation of human rights in Iranian laws, the Islamic Parliament is on the verge of approving legislation that not only disregards all the aforementioned criticism but in some cases makes the situation even worse,” Jus…

Nigeria to hang a man for stealing car radio

A Nigerian High court on Friday sentenced a car mechanic to death by hanging for stealing a car stereo back in June 2002. "This is an offense of armed robbery for which I have no discretion. The penalty is death and I am not in a position not to impose it," said presiding Justice Fred of Oleh High Court in Delta State. "To this end, the accused person is sentenced to death by hanging in the neck until he is dead." Prosecutors say the accused, Patrick Ekeh, along with two others, robbed a car stereo from Johnson Unuerho on June, 29th 2002, while armed, at Okpara Inland within Isiokolo judicial division, Vanguard Media reported. Unuerho, a University Lecturer with the College of Education Warri, told the court that "he tip-toed to the window, opened the blind gently and saw the 1st accused person, Patrick Ekeh and another member of the gang now deceased before shouting for help." No other information is given about the now deceased gang member or ci…

Mubarak urges world leaders to save him from death penalty

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Egyptian daily reports ousted president sent nine letters to Arab, Western states asking to mount pressure on Egyptian authorities to release his family members, not sentence him to death. Susan Mubarak, the wife of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent nine personal letters dictated by her husband to a senior attorney, in order for him to deliver them to heads of states which had good relations with Mubarak, Ruz al-Yusuf Egyptian daily reported on Saturday.
In the letters, which were most likely addressed to the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon, the ailing Mubarak pleaded with the leaders to mount pressure on Egyptian authorities to allow his two sons, Gamal and Alaa – who are also facing trial – and his wife to leave the country without being sent to jail.
Mubarak also reportedly plead with American officials to dissuade Egyptian authorities from sentencing him to death, claiming that the current rulers of Egypt and his historic…

Man hanged in Ilam, western Iran

Iran Human Rights, January 28: One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Ilam, western Iran, today January 28.
According to the state run Iranian news agency ISNA , the prisoner who wasn’t identified by name, was convicted of murder and had once escaped from the prison by blowing up the prison wall.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 28, 2012

Connecticut: Komisarjevsky denies blame as death sentence passed

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A man convicted of murdering a woman and her 2 daughters in a 2007 home invasion has tried to deflect blame, as a judge sentenced him to die.
Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, was ordered to face lethal injection after emotional statements from family members of the victims.
The crime shocked America and helped defeat a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state of Connecticut.
Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death in 2010.
The 2 were on parole for burglary when they broke into a home in Cheshire, Connecticut.
'Personal holocaust'
While Dr William Petit was tied up, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit was forced to withdraw money from her bank.
She was then raped by Hayes and strangled to death.
Hawke-Petit's 11-year-old daughter, Michaela, was sexually assaulted by Komisarjevsky.
Both girls were tied to their beds and left to die as the house was doused in petrol and set on fire.
The only survivor, Dr Petit, was beaten with a baseball bat and tied up but escape…

India: First death penalty in a drug crime case

In the 1st ever case of capital punishment in a drug crime, a special Narcotics court in Chandigarh has awarded death penalty to a person while sentencing an African national to 15-years of Rigorous Imprisonment (RI).
The court of Special Judge (Narcotic Drugs and Physchotropic Substances Act) Shalini Singh Nagpal awarded death sentence to one Paramjeet Singh for trafficking 10 kilograms of Heroin and supplying it to an African national Sestus Benson in 2007.
Till now the maximum punishment in drug crime has been RI and a heavy fine.
"Paramjeet was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on November 30, 2007 in Chandigarh's sector-39 as he was illegally delivering 10kg Heroin to Benson. What made his crime grave was that Paramjeet was out on parole granted by a Delhi Court in another drug trafficking case," NCB Special Public Prosecutor Kailash Chander said.
This is a 1st-ever case of capital punishment being awarded in a drugs trafficking case. Benson has been awarde…

Saudi Arabia, Iraq not to execute each other's prisoners

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JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and Iraq have agreed in principle to put on hold execution of prisoners on death row in the two countries for at least two months until a final agreement to swap prisoners is reached.
This was reported by local daily Al-Eqtisadiah on Friday quoting an official source at the Iraqi Embassy in Riyadh.
Muhammad Al-Obaidi, in charge of bilateral relations in the embassy, described the agreement to be only in principle and said no official papers were signed.
"This agreement in principle to put on hold execution of prisoners would automatically terminate when the two countries sign a final agreement to exchange prisoners," he said.
There are 113 Saudi prisoners in Iraq including six on death row after being charged with the crimes of illegally entering the country and carrying out terrorist operations there. There are 138 Iraqi prisoners in the Kingdom of whom 11 were sentenced to death after they were found guilty of carrying out terrorist operations in the count…

Texas executes Rodrigo Hernandez

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A man who had been paroled for an assault in Michigan when his DNA linked him to a years-old murder in San Antonio was executed in Texas on Thursday. 
The high court rejected a last-day appeal about two hours before Hernandez was set for lethal injection.
Rodrigo Hernandez faced lethal injection for sexually assaulting and strangling Susan Verstegen, 38, before leaving her body in a San Antonio trash can. Verstegen, a Frito-Lay worker, was stocking snacks at a grocery store when she was attacked in 1994, according to the Texas Attorney General's Office.
Hernandez's DNA wasn't matched to the crime until 2002, when Michigan officials took a sample from him as he was paroled and put it into a national database.
He died by lethal injection at a prison in Huntsville at 6:19 p.m. local (7:19 p.m. EST).
Hernandez said little in the moments before he died.

“I want to tell everybody that I love everybody,” he said. “We are all family, people of God almighty. We're all good. I'…

Chinese court spares Filipino from execution

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KIDAPAWAN CITY—A Chinese court has commuted the death sentence of a Filipino convicted of drug smuggling in 2008, North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco said here Thursday.
Richard Bianan, of Tulunan, North Cotabato, will instead be serving life imprisonment with a two-year reprieve after the Fujian Provincial Higher People’s Court downgraded his sentence for his good behavior and performance.
The commutation was confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila in a text message by its spokesperson, Raul Hernandez.
Bianan has been imprisoned in Fujian since 2008 following his sentencing by the provincial court there for bringing in one kilo of heroin to China. Chinese authorities had forcibly extracted 91 capsules filled with heroin from his stomach in July that year.
In its verdict, the Fujian court had said it had no reason to doubt that Bianan should be put to death for his offense. But it downgraded the penalty based on the recommendation of the Fujian Provincial Jail Adm…

Ethiopia: Death penalty for blogger, prison for journalists

New York, January 26, 2012--A U.S.-based journalist convicted on politicized terrorism charges in Ethiopia was sentenced to death in absentia today, while two other Ethiopian journalists received heavy prison sentences in connection with their coverage of banned opposition groups, according to news reports.
Elias Kifle, exiled Ethiopian editor of the Washington-based opposition website Ethiopian Review, was handed a death sentence in absentia today, which followed a 2007 life sentence given to him also in absentia on charges of treason for his coverage of the government's brutal repression of 2005 post-election protests, CPJ research shows. A court in the capital, Addis Ababa, sentenced Reeyot Alemu, a columnist with the independent weekly Feteh, and Woubshet Taye, deputy editor of the now-defunct weekly Awramba Times, to 14 years in prison and 33,000 birrs (US$1,500), news reports said.
"The death penalty for Elias Kifle and the prison sentences for Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet T…

Texas to execute man whose DNA tied him to cold case

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A man who had been paroled for an assault in Michigan when his DNA linked him to a years-old murder in San Antonio is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Thursday.
Rodrigo Hernandez faces lethal injection for sexually assaulting and strangling Susan Verstegen, 38, before leaving her body in a San Antonio trash can. Verstegen, a Frito-Lay worker, was stocking snacks at a grocery store when she was attacked in 1994, according to the Texas Attorney General's Office.
Hernandez's DNA wasn't matched to the crime until 2002, when Michigan officials took a sample from him as he was paroled and put it into a national database.
He is due to die by lethal injection at a prison in Huntsville some time after 6 p.m. local (7 p.m. EST).
If Hernandez's execution is carried out, he would be the second person executed in the United States this year following Gary Welch in Oklahoma in January, according to the National Death Penalty Information Center.
Hernandez would be the first person exe…

Former Ohio death row inmate Joe D'Ambrosio, finally free, speaks out

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Attempted murder. That's what Joe D'Ambrosio wants the prosecutors to be charged with. He says the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office tried to kill him by withholding 10 pieces of evidence at his trial, evidence that could have led to a not-guilty verdict.
Instead, D'Ambrosio sat on Ohio's death row for more than 20 years.
He is finally free.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the state's appeal against him. The ruling wipes D'Ambrosio's legal slate clean.
They can erase the charges but they can't give him back his life.
D'Ambrosio was 26 when the police arrested him on Sept. 26, 1988 for the murder of Tony Klann. He's now 50 with nothing to show for his life except a '97 Ford Ranger with no radio, no air-conditioning and crank windows.
D'Ambrosio is angry at the prosecutors who withheld information, who called him a liar on the stand.
"They had the truth in their files," he said. "They're all guilty o…

Condemned Ohio man claims innocence in arson death

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A death row inmate convicted of starting a fire that killed his 3-year-old son says new arson science backs up his claim of innocence.
Michael Webb is trying to stop his execution, scheduled for next month. He's seeking mercy from the Ohio governor, saying a leading arson expert can prove the 1990 fire could have been set anywhere in the house, and not just near a closet or bathroom.
Webb's attorneys made their plea Tuesday morning to the Ohio Parole Board, which will make its recommendation to Gov. John Kasich, who has the final say, next week.
At the heart of the state's evidence against Webb was testimony from the Goshen Township Fire Chief Virgil Murphy that evidence from the fire on Nov. 21, 1990, showed it could only have been set near a bathroom or closet, based on where the majority of the fire damage was. Webb told investigators he was standing outside the bathroom.
Webb's attorneys submitted an analysis by Austin, Texas-based arson expert Gerald …

Mother asks Europe to save son from Belarus execution

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(Reuters) - Lyubov Kovalyova, a Belarussian receptionist, was listening to the radio at work in April when she heard that her son had confessed to helping plan a terrorist attack - a bomb in a metro station in the capital Minsk which killed 15 people.
Eight months later, after a two-month trial, her son - who says he is innocent - and a childhood friend were condemned to death, a sentence delivered in Belarus by a pistol shot at an unannounced time.
In a race to gain a reprieve, Kovalyova is taking her case to European institutions, and is also campaigning to abolish the death penalty in her country, the only one in Europe still to practise it.
She met the EU sub-committee on human rights last week. On Monday she spoke in Strasbourg to the Council of Europe, an international organisation promoting human rights and the rule of law. On Tuesday she was scheduled to appear at the European Parliament in Brussels.
"The focus now is to secure the life of my son," Kovalyova said at the …

Egypt parties refuse to abolish death penalty, protect women's rights, end discrimination

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CAIRO — Many Egyptian political parties, especially dominant Islamist groups, have refused to commit to protecting women’s rights and to abolishing the death penalty, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
“Most of the biggest Egyptian political parties have committed to delivering ambitious human rights reform in the country’s transition, but have either given mixed signals or flatly refused to sign up to ending discrimination, protecting women’s rights and to abolishing the death penalty,” Amnesty said.
The London-based rights watchdog had contacted 54 parties running in Egypt’s first post-revolution parliamentary elections to sign a “human rights manifesto” containing 10 key pledges.
“It is disturbing that a number of parties refused to commit to equal rights for women,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“With a handful of women taking up seats in the new parliament, there remain huge obstacles to women playing a full rol…

Iraq’s execution of 34 people in one day ‘shocking’ – UN human rights chief

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24 January 2012 – The United Nations human rights chief said today she was shocked at reports that 34 people were executed in Iraq in a single day last week and called on the country to institute an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
“Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated in a news release.
“Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure,” she added.
The 34 individuals, including two women, were executed on 19 January following their conviction for various crimes, according to the UN human rights office (OHCHR).
The total number of individuals sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004 is believed to stand at more than 1,200. The total numb…

Trinidad and Tobago: Government working to implement death penalty

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January 22, 2012: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Government will work to implement the death penalty in Trinidad as part of a serious crime reduction tool.
Persad-Bissessar was delivering an address yesterday at the Ministry of National Security Planning Workshop organised by the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS) yesterday at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel, Port of Spain.
With 30 murders in the first 21 days of the year, she said Government is aware of the upsurge in the homicide rate although it has been reduced significantly from 2009 to 2011.
“Despite the fact the statistics for 2011 reveal a decrease in homicide and serious crime, Government is appalled at the brutal nature of the crime. The cautious optimism with which we viewed last year’s statistics…should not be misinterpreted as complacency,” she said.
She said because of this the People’s Partnership government is prepared to use all the resources including the death penalty to vigorously pursue and c…

U.S. Supreme Court sends much-needed message to Alabama about how it treats poor defendants charged with capital crimes

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The U.S. Supreme Court sent the state of Alabama at least two messages last week when justices ruled against the state in the case of Death Row inmate Cory Maples, who missed a deadline to appeal after his lawyers dropped his case without telling him.
First, the high court made clear the state and courts were wrong in denying Maples his day in court. Maples missed a 42-day window to file an appeal after a state court judge ruled against his claims of ineffectiveness of counsel and other problems at trial. But the missed filing was through no fault of his own. Two pro bono lawyers had abandoned Maples' case without notifying him or the state. Copies of the trial court's order sent to them at their old law firm were returned unopened to the court clerk, who did nothing.
"Abandoned by counsel, Maples was left unrepresented at a critical time for his state postconviction petition, and he lacked a clue of any need to protect himself pro se," the court said in its 7-2 ruling…

Uganda: Anti-Gay Bill Doesn't Make Sense, Mbeki Says

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Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has hit out at Ndorwa West MP David Bahati's anti-gay Bill, telling a public audience in Kampala that what two consenting adults do in private "is really not the matter of law."
The visiting former head of state's comments will come as a boost to the crusaders of gay rights in Uganda. Mr Mbeki, a guest of the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), issued the comments during a three-hour public question and answer session on Thursday evening debating post-cold war Africa and why the continent is reliant on external interventions in dealing with local issues.
Mr Bahati's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, first tabled in the 8th Parliament, is currently collecting dust on the shelves of the 9th Parliament following wide international uproar in large part for a clause that seeks to hand down the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality, including the spreading of HIV/Aids.

Mr Mbeki said apartheid South Africa prohibited sexual…