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Showing posts from February, 2016

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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…

Connecticut court to rule on death penalty abolishment

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The Connecticut Supreme Court is set to rule on whether to confirm or overturn its decision last year to abolish the state's death penalty.
Justices are expected to release their ruling Monday in the appeal of Russell Peeler Jr., who was sentenced to death for ordering the 1999 killings of a woman and her 8-year-old son in Bridgeport.
The court ruled 4-3 in August that capital punishment was unconstitutional, striking down a 2012 law that abolished the death penalty for future murders but left it in place for 11 men already facing execution. 
The decision came in the appeal of another death row inmate, Eduardo Santiago.
The Supreme Court allowed state prosecutors in the Peeler case to address issues the court raised in the Santiago ruling.
Source: Associated Press, Feb. 29, 2016
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New Hampshire: Death penalty suspension coming up for Senate vote

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New Hampshire's state Senate is poised to take up a bill that would effectively end use the death penalty in the state without flat-out repealing it.
Republican Sen. Kevin Avard is the primary sponsor of a bipartisan measure to "suspend" use of the death penalty until "methods exist to ensure that the death penalty cannot be imposed on an innocent person." 
New Hampshire is the only state in New England with the death penalty still on the books, and efforts to repeal it in 2014 deadlocked in the 24-member Senate.
The vote in Thursday's Senate session will be close, likely with 1 or 2 votes determining the outcome. 
Not all senators could be reached Friday by The Associated Press for a full vote count.
Source: Associated Press, February 29, 2016
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Nebraska: Death penalty debate heats up as both sides fight for voters

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This November major issues will appear on the ballot in Nebraska beyond who's elected to the presidency.
The death penalty debate is heating up again, bot sides launching re-newed campaigns.
Last Wednesday, the advocated for abolishing the death penalty launched "Retain A Just Nebraska". But coming soon, the people who want to keep the death penalty will launch "Repeal the Repeal".
"We think that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for heinous murderers and we are going to do anything we can to make sure Nebraskans understand that and go out and vote in November," said Rod Edwards, state field director of Nebraskans for the Death Penalty.
9 months from the general election, both sides are already gearing up for a fight to win over voters.
"It's just costing us money," said Lincoln Senator Colby Coash during a Retain A Just Nebraska commercial.
Nebraska hasn't carried out an execution since 1997. Supporters of the abolishm…

Pakistan Braces for Violence After Execution of Governor’s Killer

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The authorities in Pakistan were bracing for the possibility of violence and escalating protests on Monday after the execution of the killer of Salmaan Taseer, a governor who had campaigned for changes in the country’s blasphemy laws.
Mr. Taseer’s assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, was hanged at 4:30 a.m. on Monday at the Adiala Jail, a high-security prison in Rawalpindi, adjacent to Islamabad, the capital. Security forces were put on high alert in major cities across the country.
Supporters had begun gathering to view Mr. Qadri’s body at his home in Rawalpindi. By early afternoon, the expressway connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi was blocked by protests.
In the eastern city of Lahore, large police contingents were deployed to thwart demonstrations. Some markets had closed in the southwestern city of Karachi, where religious groups have a sizable presence, and the police had been sent to others. Protests were also reported in smaller cities.
Mr. Qadri, a for…

AFP to help Indonesians in 'cyanide' case after death penalty taken off table

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Justice Minister Michael Keenan's approval required for AFP to assist with possible death penalty case in Indonesia
Indonesia has guaranteed that an Australian permanent resident charged with murdering her friend with cyanide-laced coffee will not face the death penalty.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan has now agreed to the Australian Federal Police assisting with the case of 27-year-old Jessica Kumala Wongso, who allegedly poisoned her friend Wayan Mirna Salihin at an upmarket cafe in Central Jakarta in January.
The allegations have transfixed Indonesia.
Indonesian police sought assistance from the AFP because the 2 women had studied together at Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney and Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.
Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian last week flew to Australia where he met with Mr Keenan, who was required by law to personally sign off on the request.
A spokeswoman for Mr Keenan told Fairfax Media the minister agreed Australia would provide a…

Should Indonesia Abolish the Death Penalty Law for Drug Criminals?

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Indonesia, following President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's anti-drug campaign, executed a total of 14 drug dealers in January and April of last year.
The rise in the number of drug users in Indonesia had led civil society organizations to urge the government to abolish death penalty against drug dealers.
Their suggestions were based on the data provided by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), which showed that there is an increasing number of drug users in Indonesia, from 4.2 million people in June 2015 to 5.9 million people in November 2015.
The fact could suggest that the death penalty law for drug-related crime is not quite effective to curb drug use and drug smugglings in Indonesia. This is according to leaders of civil society organizations who attended a discussion forum about drug trafficking issues at the office of Komnas HAM in Jakarta as reported by Kompas.com.
Besides Komnas HAM executives, also attending the meeting were representatives of other civil society organ…

ISIS militants stone to death 2 teenage girls over alleged adultery

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Two teenage girls accused of committing adultery have been stoned to death by Islamic State militants in Syria. 
Hasna, 17, and Madiha, 16, died after the assault in Deir ez-Zor city, eastern Syria.
The 2 men they were with, identified by the Sharia Court as Abu Zubair al-Idlbi and Maher Hameed, escaped with 50 lashes in a public flogging.
The Islamic State-led Sharia Court released a statement claiming the girls were seized in a house "with 2 strangers" - an act strictly forbidden under Islamic State's twisted interpretation of Islam. 
"The victims were accused of committing adultery with 2 older men, identified by the Sharia Court as Abu Zubair al-Idlbi and Maher Hameed," the source reported.
Local media activist Ahmed Ramadan told ARA News: "The execution took place in the Hamidiya district of Deir ez-Zor on Tuesday afternoon, where hundreds of people gathered to witness the stoning of the 2 young girls. The decision of the Sharia Court raised the ange…

Virginia: Ricky Gray's execution put on hold until Supreme Court weighs in

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Convicted murderer Ricky Gray's execution is now on hold so the Supreme Court can weigh in on his case.
An order filed in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday put the March 16 execution on hold until the Supreme Court could decide whether to intervene.
Gray was sentenced to death in connection with the 2006 New Year’s Day quadruple murders of the Harvey family in Richmond. 
In December, he petitioned to have his death penalty case reviewed by all 15 federal appeals court judges in Richmond. He remains housed on death row at Sussex I State Prison.
Along with the legal maneuvering are concerns Virginia does not currently have all the drugs needed for a lethal injection. 
The Department of Corrections says it does not have the first drug needed, which can be Midazolam or Pentobarbital or Thiopental Sodium. 
Gray does have the option to select electrocution instead.
He was set to be executed at Greensville Correctional Center. At least six citizens who …

Bill to repeal death penalty in Utah passes Senate committee

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A bill to repeal the death penalty in Utah has taken its first step by clearing a judiciary committee and moving to the full Senate.
Sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, SB 189 would remove the punishment for first-degree felony aggravated murder within the state beginning May 10, 2016. Only crimes in which the death penalty has been handed down as a judgment prior to that date would move forward to execution. Capital cases currently being prosecuted would not be affected.
There are currently nine inmates on death row in Utah.
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee in a 5-2 vote Tuesday with a favorable recommendation.
According to the Associated Press, Urquhart said his bill may be a long shot in conservative Utah, yet he hopes arguments about the cost related to the death penalty, among other concerns, helps garner support for repealing it.
“The reality is we don’t have a death penalty, we’re just spending an awful amount of …

Iran: A prisoner hanged, 3 dozen death verdicts issued in run-up to elections

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The Iranian regime's henchmen in the main prison of the northern city of Gorgan secretly hanged a 52-year-old man who had been arrested on drug-related charges.
The Iranian regime's judiciary has recently confirmed death sentences for at least 40 prisoners that are being held in Gezel-Hessar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran. Most of the prisoners had asked for their cases to be reviewed but their death sentence were confirmed within 1-2 days and they were informed of the final verdicts on Sunday.
In the run-up to the sham elections in Iran, Iran's clerical regime has intensified issuing death sentences, handing down long prison terms and carrying out cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments in public.
Amnesty International said in its yearly report on violations of human rights in Iran: "The authorities continued to use the death penalty extensively, and carried out numerous executions, including of juvenile offenders. Some executions were conducted in public.&q…

Member of Indonesia's parliament tweets that gays should be put to death

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Tifatul Sembiring later takes down tweet amid criticism
In the latest incident of anti-gay rhetoric in Indonesia, a member of Parliament from the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party posted on Twitter that gays should be put to death.
Tifatul Sembiring, who is the country’s former Information and Communications Minister, tweeted: ‘A saying of the Prophet [Mohamed]: Whomever you find committing the acts of the community of Lot (homosexual) should be put to death.’
After he received criticism from others online, Sembiring deleted the tweet from his account, according to BuzzFeed News.
Anti-gay rhetoric has been on the rise in the Southeast Asian country. 
Earlier this week, Indonesia’s leading psychiatric body classified homosexuality and gender dysphoria mental disorders that can be cured with proper treatment.
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders in 1970.
Gay sex is not a crime in Indonesia but remains taboo in many parts the Muslim-m…

Torture, flogging, amputations and executions continue in Iran: Amnesty International

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The authorities in Iran have “severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, arresting and imprisoning journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others who voiced dissent, on vague and overly broad charges,” Amnesty International said in its annual report on violations of human rights in Iran.
“Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and was committed with impunity; prison conditions were harsh. Unfair trials continued, in some cases resulting in death sentences.”
“Women and members of ethnic and religious minorities faced pervasive discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities carried out cruel punishments, including blinding, amputation and floggings. Courts imposed death sentences for a range of crimes; many prisoners, including at least four juvenile offenders, were executed.”
Detainees and sentenced prisoners were denied adequate medical care; in some cases, the authorities withheld prescribed medica…

Iran: Every single man in a village executed for drug offenses

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Iran Human Rights (FEB 25 2016): Talking to state run news agency Mehr on Tuesday February 23 about the huge problem of drug usage and offenses in Iran, Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iranian Vice President for Women & Family Affairs (appointed by Hassan Rouhani in 2013) said: We have a village in Sistan & Baluchestan where every single man has been executed. The children [of these men] are potential drug traffickers; either because they will seek revenge for the deaths of their fathers or because they will need to financially provide for their families, as a result of lack of support by the government.
Every year several hundred people are hanged in Iran for drug related charges. According to IHR, the majority of people executed in Iran belong to the most marginalized groups in society, and ethnic regions are the most affected. "Iranian authorities have repeatedly admitted that the death penalty has not solved the problem of drug trafficking, but they still continue to execute …

Pakistan hangs four in two days

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February 24, 2016: four murder convicts were hanged in Pakistan in two days.
Three prisoners were hanged in two jails on February 23.
In Toba, Mumtaz Ahmad of Bhakkar was hanged for killing Noor Muhammad Khaira in Chak 264/GB Rajana some 24 years ago.
In Sahiwal, two murder convicts were hanged in Central Jail early in the morning while execution of another was postponed.
The dead bodies of the prisoners were handed over to the heirs.
Faiz was executed for killing a man named Barkat in 1992 while Ramzan had murdered three women in 2004.
On February 24, another death row convict was executed in the Central Jail of Mainwali.
According to details, Naimat Gul was convicted of killing a man over marriage dispute in 1993.
The mercy plea of Gul had been rejected by the government authorities.
The dead body of the convict was handed to his legal heirs.
Source: channel24.pk, Feb. 24, 2016
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Saudi Arabia executes own citizen for kidnapping; 64th execution this year

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February 23, 2016: A Saudi who kidnapped and tried to rape his employer was put to death in the kingdom’s 64th execution of the year.
Mufrih bin Ahmed Khamis worked as the victim’s driver, the interior ministry said in a statement.
A court found that he consumed alcohol before abducting her and her baby, "taking advantage of the fact that he drove her to the school where she worked," it said.
"He beat her, handcuffed her and placed tape over her mouth. He then drove her to an isolated location and tried to rape her."
After stealing her money and telephone, Khamis abandoned the woman and child, the ministry added.
After his trial and conviction, Khamis was executed in the southwestern city of Abha. 
Source: Agence France-Presse, Feb. 23, 2016
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Joko Underlines Need for Tougher Measures in Indonesia's War Against Drugs

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Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has reiterated the importance of Indonesia's war against drugs in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (24/02), following a National Police report that said drug trafficking had increased 13.6 percent last year.
Joko instructed ministries and law enforcement institutions to take more assertive actions against drug trafficking violations, calling the effort the government's number one priority.
“Close all the cracks for drug-smuggling efforts in every entrance [to the country], including in ports and airports – even small ports,” Joko said at State Palace in Central Jakarta, as quoted by the Cabinet Secretariat.
The president also instructed police to monitor and search for drug-smuggling activities in every inch of the country, including in prisons.
“Routinely, at least twice a month, prisons should be checked by the BNN [National Narcotic Agency] and National Police with backup from the military as the amount of drugs circulating inside prisons could…

Saudi Arabia: Death penalty sought for 28 espionage suspects

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Manama: A government prosecutor called for the death penalty for 28 suspects -- 27 Saudis and one Afghan -- and for severe jail terms for the remaining four, three Saudis and one Iranian.
A business analyst and a security serviceman are among the 32 people put on trial in Saudi Arabia this week for spying for Iran.
The 32 suspects are accused of high treason against the kingdom by collaborating with Iranian intelligence.
The security serviceman worked for a sector tasked with the security and safety of pilgrims, the court in the capital Riyadh heard as the last eight suspects, all Saudi nationals, went on trial on Tuesday, Saudi daily Okaz reported.
The serviceman asked the judges to name a lawyer to defend him, explaining that he did not have the financial resources to hire an attorney.
However, a judge told him that he would have to pay the state back in case it was found out that he was financially able to hire a lawyer, he changed his mind and said he would have his own lawyer, O…

Arizona death row inmates asking state to not use a paralytic in executions

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ARIZONA - Arizona death row inmates are asking the state to not use a paralyzing drug in their executions -- so witnesses can see them suffer.
The state said they're trying to create a "spectacle" and have no First Amendment right to "go viral."
The death row inmates, along with First Amendment organizations, are challenging the state's execution methods and attempting to get rid of one of the steps in the death penalty process.
The state of Arizona shot back at its death row inmates who challenged the state's use of paralytics in executions and are arguing that people have a constitutional right to see what's actually going on when someone is executed, Buzzfeed News reported Wednesday.
The state's method includes a three-drug protocol that is supposed to sedate and paralyze the person before killing them.
Death row inmates and a coalition of First Amendment organizations are arguing that the paralytic agent only prevents people from seeing the…

Japan: Arsonist loses appeal against death sentence

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The nation's top court has upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of arson in which 5 people died.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Sunao Takami's appeal against a lower court ruling in the 2009 case, in which he poured gasoline on the floor of an Osaka pachinko parlor and set it alight. The sentence is now set to be finalized.
The presiding judge, Toshimitsu Yamasaki, said the 48-year-old Takami carries an "extremely grave liability for committing a premeditated, indiscriminate murder that targeted a pachinko parlor on a Sunday, when it was expected to draw a large crowd."
The top court's 5-justice No. 3 Petty Bench said the death penalty is justified for Takami, despite certain circumstances being in his favor. These include the fact that he surrendered to authorities on the day following the attack.
According to rulings by the Osaka district and high courts, Takami set the gaming parlor in Osaka's Konohana Ward on fire on July 5, 2009, killing …

Iran’s Hard-Line Press Adds to Bounty on Salman Rushdie

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TEHRAN — A group of hard-line Iranian news media organizations says it has raised $600,000 to add to a bounty for the killing of the British novelist Salman Rushdie.
Iran’s former supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, in 1989 calling for Mr. Rushdie to be killed because of his book “The Satanic Verses,” which the ayatollah found to be blasphemous and insulting toward Muslims. Mr. Rushdie has since then been living largely out of sight and under the protection of bodyguards.
The semiofficial Fars news agency, one of the organizations involved, reported that the new reward money was gathered during a trade fair called the Islamic Republic’s Digital Media Exhibition. It quoted the secretary of the exhibition saying that the $600,000 had been announced last week to mark the anniversary of the 1989 fatwa.
The Iranian government distanced itself from calls for Mr. Rushdie’s death under former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who declared in…

Ohio's former prisons chief: 'The death penalty isn't worth fixing'

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It's been six years since I retired after more than three decades at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. I held various positions including warden, regional director, assistant director and then director. Included in my responsibilities was the participation in the execution of 33 men from 2001 to 2010.
With each execution I asked myself: Did the extensive process of appeals ensure we got it right? I often wondered if we made a mistake. My curiosity arose because I had walked people out of prison after years of incarceration who turned out to be innocent.
Our judicial and corrections system is among the finest in the world and the envy of nations. We provide the best attorneys, judges, and corrections personnel anywhere. I know, and have worked closely with many of them. Yet we continue to be one of the few industrialized nations to carry out the death penalty even when we know mistakes happen.
Innocent People on Death Row
Every year, more innocent prisoners walk…