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Showing posts from May, 2015

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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…

Archbishop of Canterbury is latest to be approached for support by Lindsay Sandiford

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The Archbishop of Canterbury is the latest high profile figure to be approached for help by a Redcar gran on death row in Bali.
Lindsay Sandiford, who lived in Redcar, is in a Bali prison waiting death by firing squad for drug smuggling.
Supporters on a website campaigning to raise funds for the legal battle to fight her sentence have already written to comedian turned social activist Russell Brand and billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson after both spoke out against the execution of her fellow prisoners, known as the Bali Nine.
Now a letter to Ms Sandiford, reportedly from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has appeared on the campaign’s Facebook page.
The letter, signed by Kay Brock, the chief of staff to the Archbishop, said that at the Archbishop’s request she had been in touch with the Embassy in Jakarta, through the Consulate in Bali, to ask for their help and support.
The letter continues: “The Archbishop has made and continues to make his opposition t…

FDA says Nebraska can't legally import execution drug

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A push to execute 10 condemned men despite the repeal of Nebraska's death penalty was confronted with yet another hurdle Friday when a federal agency said the state cannot import a critical lethal injection drug.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said he agrees with the attorney general that Nebraska should be able to execute its death row inmates upon receiving the drugs it recently bought from a broker in India.
The state has already paid $54,400 to replace 2 lethal injection drugs that had expired.
"Our plan is to proceed with the executions," the governor said Friday during a press conference that marked the end of the 2015 legislative session.
In the 18 other states that have repealed capital punishment, no death row inmates have been subsequently executed, said Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
In 2 states that have abolished the death penalty - New Mexico and Connecticut - the fate of those on death row remains unsettled.
In Nebraska, the intentio…

Qatar drops death penalty for Filipino 'spy'

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A death sentence handed to a Filipino in Qatar for spying was reduced on appeal by a Doha court on Sunday to life imprisonment.
Two other sentences of life imprisonment against another pair of defendants, also from the Philippines, were reduced at the same time by Qatar's Court of Appeal to 15 years in jail.
One of the men sentenced to serve 15 years has been named as Ronaldo Lopez Ulep.
All three had been convicted last year on charges of espionage and passing on Qatar military and economic secrets to the Philippines government.
The unnamed defendant who was originally sentenced to death is likely to spend up to 25 years in prison.
He worked as a supervisor at Qatar Petroleum.
The other two defendants worked for the Qatar Air Force.
At the time of their conviction it was alleged that the two men working for the air force supplied information to the third man for cash.
Following Sunday's brief hearing, the Philippines ambassador to Qatar, Wilfred C. Santos, said the reduction…

Texas solidifies execution drug secrecy protections into law

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Texas state law will mandate keeping the identity of Texas' lethal drug suppliers confidential from the public - and even death row inmates and their attorneys.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Thursday that cleared both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature. 
There was little floor opposition, despite advocates' calls that there shouldn't be secrecy surrounding the nation's busiest death chamber.
Drug manufacturers say they won't sell to Texas without total confidentiality since they've faced threats from death penalty opponents. There's little evidence that such threats actually occurred, however.
Abbott, then state attorney general, declared in a previous opinion that suppliers' identities should be disclosed. But he reversed himself while running for governor, siding for secrecy.
That prompted legal challenges that will likely be further complicated by the new law.
Source: Associated Press, May 29, 2015
Report an error, an omission: deathp…

UN rights office welcomes Nebraska as latest US state to abolish death penalty

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Welcoming Nebraska as the 19th state in the United States to abolish the death penalty, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today urged the Federal Government to engage with those states retaining the policy towards achieving a nationwide moratorium as a 1st step to abolition.
"We welcome the abolition of the death penalty in the state of Nebraska on Wednesday," said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, who added that Nebraska has not executed any inmates since 1997.
States, such as Colorado, Delaware, Montana and Kansas, whose legislative bodies are currently debating the abolition of the death penalty, are encouraged to follow Nebraska's lead, Ms. Shamdasani said.
OHCHR also called on the US Federal Government, at the recommendation of the Human Rights Committee in March 2014, to establish a federal level moratorium on the death penalty, while engaging "retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium," as a 1…

Florida: Gregory Larkin commits suicide while on death row for killing his parents

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Gregory Larkin, 41, apparently committed suicide Wednesday night in his death row cell at Florida State Prison, authorities told the Times-Union. 
Family members told a woman who helped in Larkin's case that an autopsy found he died of apparent asphyxiation, about 2 years after being sent to the prison in Bradford County.
State prison officials declined to discuss the cause or manner of death or other details, such as whether Larkin was on suicide watch and how guards were monitoring him. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating as a routine matter in such deaths in state prison. An FDLE spokeswoman declined to comment.
Larkin is the 4th death row inmate to commit suicide in Florida since 2000, according to the Department of Corrections. The other 3 deaths were at Union Correctional Institution.
The suffering for Gregory Larkin's family began after they learned someone had beaten his parents to death in their Fernandina Beach home in April 2009. Their decomp…

Nigeria: Pardoned torture victim 'overwhelmed' by campaign to spare his life

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A Nigerian torture victim wrongfully sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was 16 years old has been pardoned following intensive campaigning from Amnesty International supporters across the world.
Moses Akatugba, who was on death row following his conviction for stealing 3 mobile phones 10 years ago and was repeatedly tortured into signing a confession, said he felt "overwhelmed" after the outgoing Governor of Nigeria's Delta State announced last night he had granted him a full pardon.
"The pardon of Moses Akatugba, who should not have been sentenced to death in the first place because he was a minor at the time of the offence, is a victory for justice and a reminder that people power and human rights campaigning really can make a difference," said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Africa Director.
"Amnesty International members and activists are my heroes. I want to assure them that this great effort they have shown to me will not b…

Indonesia: International drug offenders now dropping appeals

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Japanese man 2nd foreigner this month to drop appeal after execution of 14 foreign nationals in fear it will be increased to death penalty
A Japanese man sentenced to life imprisonment in Indonesia for possessing crystal meth has dropped an appeal against his sentence for fear it will be increased to the death penalty.
The man is the 2nd foreigner this month to forego such an appeal in the wake of 14 foreign nationals being put to death in Indonesia so far this year.
Lawyer Syusvida Lastri told the Jakarta Post on Friday that defendant Masaru Kawada had withdrawn the appeal as he was afraid his sentence could be increased.
"We asked Kawada again whether or not he would file for an appeal, and he decided to accept the verdict and withdraw the appeal," said Syusvida.
She said the 73-year-old had come to his decision in consideration of the government's policy on drug offenders.
Since President Joko Widodo declared a "drug emergency," he has insisted he will rejec…

Indonesian Court Sentences Marijuana Trafficker to Death

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An Indonesian court has sentenced a truck driver to death for transporting 8 tons of marijuana, as part of the government's crusade against what the president claims is a "national drug emergency."
The court in Riau province, in Sumatra, ruled on Thursday that the defendant, M. Jamil, was guilty of attempting to smuggle the drugs overland from Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra, to Jakarta and Bandung in Java last year. 
Jamil was arrested in Riau's Siak district with his truck loaded with sacks of marijuana. He said the contraband had been ordered by a man identified as Ibrahim, who was later also arrested and sentenced to death.
Jamil's arrest last October was not his 1st brush with the law. He was caught smuggling marijuana several years ago but managed to evade the death sentence.
After serving time in prison, he was released and immediately returned to transporting the drug.
The court also sentenced 2 of Jamil's accomplices to life in prison,…

URGENT APPEAL for 24-year-old Iranian man at imminent risk of execution

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Ehsan Shah Ghasemi, a 24 year-old Iranian man, is at imminent risk of execution.
Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was sentenced to death for the murder of Ali Khalili. He stabbed Ali Khalili in the neck in July 2011, causing injuries that allegedly resulted in his death almost three years later in April 2014. 
Amnesty International believes Ehsan Shah Ghasemi did not receive a fair trial as there is no known conclusive evidence of a substantial causal link between the knife assault on Ali Khalili in 2011 and his death in 2014.
Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was initially arrested in July 2011 for stabbing Ali Khalili during a street fight that broke out when Ali Khalili stopped Ehsan Shah Ghasemi and his friends for playing loud “illegal” music in their car. Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was held in a Security Police station for two weeks where he claims he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. He was subsequently transferred to Kahrizak Detention Centre in southern Tehran where he spent three months in soli…

'Our plan is to proceed with the executions,' Ricketts says of 10 men on death row

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LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts said Friday that despite the repeal of Nebraska’s death penalty, the state will not cancel its order for new drugs to carry out a lethal injection execution.
Ricketts said he agrees with the state attorney general that Nebraska, once it receives the drugs, should be able to execute the 10 men currently on death row.

"Our plan is to proceed with the executions," the governor said, at a press conference marking the end of the 2015 legislative session.
Ricketts said he had no timetable for when the lethal injection drugs purchased by the state from a broker in India will arrive in Nebraska.
Under Legislative Bill 268, the death penalty would be repealed, effective in three months, and replaced by life in prison.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the chief sponsor of the law, said that while the Legislature cannot change the death sentences of those already on death row, LB 268 removed the statutory means for conducting an execution.
That, he said…

How America's Death Penalty Ends

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Nebraska marks an important new milestone in the abolition of capital punishment.
The decision Wednesday by the state of Nebraska to abolish the death penalty suggests that what seemed unimaginable as recently as a decade ago - namely that the United States would join most of the rest of the world in abolishing capital punishment - now seems well within the horizon of possibility.
The surprise move by the Nebraska legislature - overriding a gubernatorial veto with a bipartisan and sweeping 30-to-19 vote - galvanized and focused public's attention on America's death penalty for the 2nd time in just a month. On May 17, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death. That headline though, as dramatic as it was, tells us little about the future of capital punishment in the United States; Tsarnaev's case reminds us that even in liberal Massachusetts jurors can be persuaded that death is an appropriate punishment for an unusually gruesome crime and a particular…

Nebraska death penalty vote gives hope to capital punishment opponents in Colorado

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ACLU will try to sway state's GOP lawmakers
Buoyed by conservative Nebraska's decision to do away with the death penalty, capital punishment opponents say they will try to sway GOP lawmakers in Colorado to follow suit.
"It's not going to be easy," said Denise Maes, public policy director of the ACLU of Colorado. "I think we know that, given our attempts to repeal it in the past."
Maes said the ACLU is part of the Better Priorities Initiative, a coalition of organizations committed to repealing the death penalty in Colorado.
She said coalition members believe that the large amounts of money spent on death penalty cases would be better spent elsewhere.
She acknowledges that many people still support the death penalty, but said public opinion is changing.
"It's no longer in strong support," she said, adding that some victim's families don't support it.
Death Row
There are 3 people on death row in Colorado.
Nathan Dunlap has been ther…