Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kansas: Alleged gunman could face hate crime charges

(CNN) - A man suspected of fatally shooting three people at two Jewish-affiliated facilities could be formally charged with hate crimes as early as Tuesday.

Police say Frazier Glenn Cross is the suspect in Sunday's shooting death of a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center near Kansas City, Kan., and then a woman at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.

The hate crime charges are expected even though the victims were Christian, legal experts say.

For now, Cross faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder, officials said.

Investigators have "unquestionably determined" that his actions were a hate crime, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said.

If the suspected shooter is charged and convicted of a hate crime, under federal law, the death penalty could be on the table. That would apply if the charge is that the defendant was motivated by the victims' "race, color, religion or national origin."

Cross is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Both organizations operated as paramilitary groups in the 1980s, according to the SPLC.

In the 73-year-old's anti-Semitic and white-supremacist activities, he has also used the name Frazier Glenn Miller, the SPLC said.

After he was apprehended at a nearby elementary school, Cross sat in the back of a patrol car and shouted "Heil Hitler!" video from CNN affiliate KMBC shows.

Source: Click2Houston, CNN, April 15, 2014

Let’s Stop Pretending the Death Penalty Is a Medical Procedure

In January the state of Ohio executed the convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire. As in the other 31 U.S. states with the death penalty, Ohio used an intravenously injected drug cocktail to end the inmate's life. Yet Ohio had a problem. The state had run out of its stockpile of sodium thiopental, a once common general anesthetic and one of the key drugs in the executioner's lethal brew. Three years ago the only U.S. supplier of sodium thiopental stopped manufacturing the drug. A few labs in the European Union still make it, but the E.U. prohibits the export of any drugs if they are to be used in an execution.

Ohio's stockpile of pentobarbital, its backup drug, expired in 2009, and so the state turned to an experimental cocktail containing the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. But the executioner was flying blind. Execution drugs are not tested before use, and this experiment went badly. The priest who gave McGuire his last rites reported that McGuire struggled and gasped for air for 11 minutes, his strained breaths fading into small puffs that made him appear “like a fish lying along the shore puffing for that one gasp of air.” He was pronounced dead 26 minutes after the injection.

There is a simple reason why the drug cocktail was not tested before it was used: executions are not medical procedures. Indeed, the idea of testing how to most effectively kill a healthy person runs contrary to the spirit and practice of medicine. Doctors and nurses are taught to first “do no harm”; physicians are banned by professional ethics codes from participating in executions. Scientific protocols for executions cannot be established, because killing animal subjects for no reason other than to see what kills them best would clearly be unethical. Although lethal injections appear to be medical procedures, the similarities are just so much theater.

Source: Scientific American, Editorial, May 1, 2014

UN condemns Brunei over new law allowing gays to be stoned to death

Sultan of Brunei
The United Nations has condemned Brunei for adopting a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

It has long been a crime in Brunei, but the maximum punishment had been a 10-year prison sentence.

However, Brunei, a predominately Muslim state, has now adopted a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for consenting same-sex sexual activity, adultery, rape, extramarital sexual relations, and for declaring oneself to be non-Muslim.

The new penal code will come into effect on 22 April.

“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder are the other offences for which the death penalty could be applied under the revised code.

Noting that Brunei has maintained an effective moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 1957, OHCHR urged the government to establish a formal moratorium and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether.

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” Mr Colville stated.

He added that the criminalisation and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

Hassanal Bolkiah has been the Sultan of Brunei, head of government and state, since 1967.

Brunei gained independence from the UK in 1984.

Source: Pink News, April 15, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

URGENT: Iranian Woman Reyhaneh Jabbari (26) at Imminent Danger of Execution

The 26-year-old Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari might be executed in less than 48 hours. Reyhaneh is sentenced to death for the alleged murder of a former ministry of intelligence officer whom she stabbed in self defense seven years ago. Iran Human Rights urges all countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to use all their channels to stop the execution.

Iran Human Rights, April 13, 2014: Unofficial reports from Iran indicate that the death sentence of the 26 year old Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari can be carried out on Tuesday April 15.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, aged 26, was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. Following her arrest, Reyhaneh Jabbari was held in solitary confinement for two months in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she did not have access to a lawyer or her family. Reyhaneh confessed that to the murder immediately after her arrest, though she did not have a lawyer present at the time she made her confession. She stated that the murder took place in self-defence.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was sentenced to death under qesas (“retribution-in-kind”) by a criminal court in Tehran in 2009. The death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court the same year. Her family was told in March 2014 that the sentence had gone for implementation and unofficial reports indicate that she might be executed on Tuesday.

IHR urges the international community to act immediately in order to stop the execution of Reyhaneh. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR, said: ” International reactions may be the only possibility to save Reyhaneh. We ask all the countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to use all their channels to stop Reyhaneh’s planned execution”.

According to IHR’s annual report on the death penalty at least 687 people were executed in 2013, the highest number in more than 15 years in Iran. So far in 2014 at least 170 people have been executed, 96 being announced by the official reports.

Source: Iran Human Rights, April 13, 2014

Iran: CIA spy escapes death penalty to serve 10 years

An Iranian national charged with spying for the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has escaped the death penalty and will instead serve 10 years behind bars.

On Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Court rejected the death penalty which was issued against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a US resident, by the Islamic Revolutionary Court, said his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizade Tabatabaei.

The lawyer added that his client would still appeal the imprisonment verdict.

On December 17, 2011, Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced that it had arrested the CIA spy of Iranian descent, foiling an intricate American plot to carry out espionage activities in the Islamic Republic.

Mirzaei Hekmati was charged with attempting to infiltrate Iran's intelligence apparatus in an effort to implicate the Islamic Republic in sponsoring terrorism. The defendant had been hired by the CIA in May 2009 to carry out espionage operations in Iran.

In a televised confession broadcast on the Iranian television a day later, Mirzaei Hekmati said he joined the US Army in 2001 and underwent decade-long intelligence training.

He added that he was sent to the US-run Bagram Airbase in eastern Afghanistan and given access to classified intelligence before flying to Tehran.

Hekmati was born in the State of Arizona in southwestern US and joined the Marines after he received his high school diploma, his father said.

Source: PressTV, April 12, 2014

Iran: Man sentenced to have eyes gouged out

Public flogging in Iran.
The Iranian regime's judiciary in city of Isfahan has condemned another man to have his eyes gouged, state-run news agency ISNA reported.

The man has been convicted of deliberately pouring acid on the face of a woman named Massoumeh Ataei which caused her to lose eyesight.

The Iranian regime's judiciary officials have publicly defended the cutting off of hands and feet, the removal of a “defendant’s” eye, and even stoning as very real part of their judicial law.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the head of Iranian regime's 'Human Rights Council', said on April 10: “The problem is that the West does not understand that Qisas (law of retribution) is different from execution. We are not ashamed of stoning or any of the Islamic decrees.

“No one has the right to tell a judge to avert some sentences because the United Nations gets upset. We should firmly and seriously defend the sentence of stoning.”

He also has said: "Retaliation and punishment are beautiful and necessary things. It’s a form of protection for the individual and civil rights of the people in a society. The executioner or the person carrying out the sentence is in fact very much a defender of human rights. One can say that there is humanity in the act of retaliation."

Since Hassan Rouhani, has assumed presidency of the Iranian regime, savage punishments such as the gouging out of eyes and cutting off the hands and feet has continued, and the execution of the political prisoners and prisoners belonging to ethnic and religious minorities has also escalated.

Source: NCRI, April 12, 2014

Iran: Two prisoners hanged in Bandar Abbas Prison

NCRI - Early morning on Sunday, the Iranian regime hangmen in Bandar Abbas Prison in Iran hanged two men, a state-run news agency reported.

The two men were identified by their initials as A.M. and M.A., according to the report by Tasnimnews affiliated to the terrorist Quds Force of the Iranian regime.

The report said "Qisas (law of retribution) was carried out for the two prisners in Bandar Abbas Prison".

The rate of hangings has increased sharply over last year, since Hassan Rouhani, the regime's new president has taken office.

In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said between 500 and 625 people were executed last year, including 57 in public. More than 40 people were executed during the first half of January 2014, he said.

"The new government has not changed its approach regarding the application of the death penalty and seems to have followed the practice of previous administrations, which relied heavily on the death penalty to combat crime," Ban said.

Source: NCRI, April 13, 2014

Oklahoma says it has obtained secret supply of execution drugs

Oklahoma officials on Friday said the state had obtained manufactured pharmaceuticals from a secret supplier for use in the executions of two men later this month, avoiding concerns over the use of compounded drugs but leaving unanswered questions about how it obtained them.

In a letter to defence lawyers, an assistant attorney general, John Hadden, said the state “has recently acquired a manufactured source of vecuronium bromide. That means there will be no compounded drugs used in the executions of your clients. This will resolve the concerns you and your clients have expressed regarding compounded drugs.”

Despite a judge's ruling that a state drug secrecy law violated the inmates' constitutional rights, Hadden declined to identify the supplier of the new drugs.

“This information is irrelevant to your clients and disclosure could lead to harassment or intimidation which will have a chilling effect on the state's ability to acquire these drugs for future executions,” Hadden wrote.

Oklahoma plans to execute Clayton Lockett on 22 April and Charles Warner on 29 April. Both were convicted of murder and rape.

Source: The Guardian, April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

USA Violates International Law by Executing Mexican Citizen

The United States has once again violated international law, with its execution of Mexican citizen Ramiro Hernandez, who was denied the consular attention included in a Vienna convention, the United Nations charged today.

"Mr. Hernandez did not have consular access, established in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention for Consular Affairs," OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told the press.

Colville recalled that in 2004 at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a resolution noting that the United States should review and reconsider the cases of 51 Mexicans sentenced to death, including the case of Hernandez, since they had not received the required assistance.

"Under international law, the violation of the right to consular notification affects due process, so, we are witnessing a new case of arbitrary deprivation of life by a signing country, since 1992, of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights", Colville highlighted.

The spokesperson said Wednesday's execution, which took place in Texas was regrettable.

This is the 16th time the United States has applied the death penalty this year; the 6th in Texas. The U.N. opposes this punishment under any circumstance, but even more so in the recent case due to the aforementioned violations, Colville stressed.

Source: plenglish.com, April 11, 2014

Texas: Skinner transcripts received by attorneys

Defense attorneys requesting extension to 21-day deadline.

Attorneys with the state Attorney General's Office and convicted murderer Hank Skinner's defense team say they have received copies of the court transcripts from Skinner's evidentiary hearing in Gray County on Feb. 3 and 4.

Receipt of the transcripts triggers a 21-day period for attorneys to file their findings from the witness testimony back to the 31st District Court.

Lauren Been, a spokeswoman for the AG's Office, said both sides are required to respond.

Skinner, who is on death row for the brutal murders of Pampa resident Twila Busby and her 2 adult sons on New Year's Day 1993, is being represented by attorneys Douglas Robinson and Robert Owen. If District Judge Steven Emmert rules favorably for Skinner, his attorneys could seek an appeal.

Emmert does not have a deadline to file his decision, but his bailiff, Wayne Carter, said the judge wants to move along quickly with the case.

A spokeswoman from Robinson and Owen's office in Washington D.C. said Thursday they are waiting for a few exhibits from the court and are requesting the court to extend the filing deadline to May 30.

Skinner was not at the hearing in which both sides presented evidence from a series of recent DNA tests.

Skinner's original attorney, Harold Comer of Pampa, did not seek DNA testing at the time of his original trial, partly out of his concern that the results would have implicated his client.

According to Skinner's attorneys, new DNA test results support the inference that Busby's uncle, Robert Donnell, who made sexual advances to Busby on the night of the killings, committed the crimes and not Skinner.

The AG's office maintains that DNA and crime scene evidence overwhelmingly point to Skinner as the killer.

Source: The Pampa News, April 11, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Boston Marathon Bombing: Tsarnaev lawyers granted more time for evidence challenges

D. Tsarnaev
A federal judge granted a request Wednesday from defense attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to have more time to prepare challenges to evidence they expect to be brought against him.

US District Court Judge George A. O'Toole Jr., who is presiding over the Tsarnaev case, granted the extension from April 23 to May 7.

In a motion filed Tuesday in US District Court in Boston, the defense lawyers said they need more time to decide what evidence they will seek to suppress, or prevent prosecutors from presenting, at the trial, where Tsarnaev faces the possibility of the death penalty.

Both the prosecution and the defense, the motion said, agreed to allow the time for filing of motions to suppress statements to be extended to April 23.

Both sides also agreed that the time for filing of motions to suppress evidence collected during searches should be extended to May 7.

Tsarnaev, 20, faces 30 federal counts in his alleged role in the April 15, 2013, bombings, which killed 3 people and injured more than 260. Many of the injured lost limbs in the attacks and were scarred by shrapnel.

Tsarnaev and his late brother, Tamerlan, are also accused of killing an MIT police officer.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held without bail.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty; a jury will decide whether to impose that sentence, if Tsarnaev is convicted.

Source: Boston Globe, April 10, 2014

Vietnam Justice ministry propounds reduction of death penalty

The Vietnamese Ministry of Justice has suggested that the government consider limiting the scope of capital punishment, reducing charges subject to jail term sentences and expanding the application of non-custodial reforms.

The proposal is included in a recent report submitted by the ministry to the government about an orientation for amending the Penal Code, Tran Tien Dung, chief secretariat of the ministry, said Tuesday at a press briefing to review the justice sector's performance in the first quarter of this year.

The ministry has also proposed non-criminalization of a number of offenses defined in the Penal Code, for the current criminalization of such offenses has no longer been conformable to the 2013 Constitution, Dung said.

At the same time, the ministry has also suggested the criminalization of many other offenses that are highly dangerous to society but are not yet governed by the Code, such as getting illicit gains.

In 1985, the Penal Code stipulated 29 charges subjected to the death penalty, accounting for 14.89 % of the total number of charges provided for the Code.

After that, the Code underwent 4 amendments, which brought the number of charges facing death to 44.

In 1999, the Code was revised again and the number of offenses subject to the death penalty was reduced to 22 out of the total number of 272 prescribed in the Code.

In a conference on death penalty reduction jointly organized in Hanoi by the Ministry of Justice and the UNDP in late December 2013, many law experts suggested that the highest penalty should be abolished for 9 of the 22 above counts.

If the proposal is approved in the future, this means the number of charges subject to a capital sentence will be lowered to 13.

Lethal injection

In regards to the execution of death sentences, Vietnam switched from firing squad to lethal injection in November 2011, under Decree 82/2011 by the government, based on the Law on Criminal Verdict Execution approved by the National Assembly in 2009.

The government also designated 3 types of drugs that had to be used to execute death row inmates.

All 3 must be imported from other countries because they cannot be produced at home.

However, the new execution method took years to implement due to a failure to import the drugs from the European Union (EU), which banned the exportation of lethal injection drugs because it considers capital punishment a violation of human rights.

The Vietnamese government then issued Decree 47/2013 to amend Decree 82, allowing domestically produced drugs to be used for executions.

Decree 47 took effect on June 27, 2013 and the 1st execution by lethal injection was carried out in Hanoi on August 6 last year.

Source: Tuoi Tre News, April 10, 2014

French National Could Face Death for Bali Meth Smuggling

Denpasar. French national Francois Jacques Giuily, 49 was charged with drug trafficking by a Bali court on Thursday and could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Giuily was allegedly caught with 3 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, worth some Rp 6.1 billion ($506,300), on arrival at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on January 19

Under Indonesia’s harsh drug laws, dealing on quantities more than 5 grams is a capital offense.

“He was promised $4,000 if he succeeded,” prosecutor I Gusti Putu Atmaja said of Giuily, who stood accused of carrying the drugs from Senegal.

Giuily arrived in Denpasar on a flight from Kuala Lumpur. Custom officers discovered two large bags of meth in a false compartment in his suitcase.

He allegedly worked for a Gambian drug dealer who went by the name John Narco who gave him the packages in Dakkar. Before reaching Bali, Giuily allegedly brought the drugs through Algeria, Belgium, Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.

“The convict brought the narcotics to Denpasar to hand off to another person,” Atmaja said. “He was still awaiting Narco’s order.”

Giuily’s lawyer, Suroso, filed no objections to the charges. The panel of judges will begin hearing from witnesses on April 17.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, April 10, 2014

Top Chinese Transplant Official Says There’s No Plan to Stop Using Prisoner Organs

Wang Haibo, an unofficial representatives to the world on China’s organ transplant policies, recently told a well-known German journalist that the Chinese regime had no intention of announcing a schedule for weaning itself off the use of organs from executed prisoners.

Wang, director of the China Organ Transplant Response System Research Center of the Ministry of Health, would not say how many organs come from executed prisoners. Some outside groups suggest that there are 4,000 executions per year, though only a portion of those would yield organs viable for transplant.

One of the major disputes that international Western medical groups have with the Chinese authorities is its practice of harvesting the organs from executed prisoners.

In the way this is generally meant by the Chinese authorities, the term refers to organs from criminals who are sentenced to death and have their organs extracted after they are executed given that, at least in theory, they and their families have signed a consent waiver. Families are also entitled to compensation for agreeing to the organ extraction.

Many analysts also point to a more sinister source of prisoner organs: those that come from executed prisoners of conscience, who are not formally sentenced to death through the courts for any crime, but who are held in arbitrary detention, blood-tested, and killed as their organs as required.

Reports emerged in 2006 and 2007 of the widespread harvesting of practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline heavily persecuted by the Chinese regime.

Source: Epoch Times, April 11, 2014

Nigeria: 67 Yr-Old Man On Death Row for 18 Yrs Freed

Kaduna — Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State has granted amnesty to Mr Lasisi Yusuf, a 67-year-old convict, who has been on death row in Kaduna prison for nearly 18 years.

This followed intensive advocacy efforts by Avocats Sans Frontieres France, ASF, France.

Lasisi, a Kogi State indigene, was arrested over charges of culpable homicide and sentenced to death in 1996 by a Kogi State High Court. He was transferred to Kaduna Prison in 1997 and has been on death row since then.

Lasisi's case was taken up by ASF France through the medium of its Saving Lives, SALI, project, which is targeted at promoting international standards on human rights in Nigeria generally and, the restrictive pronouncement of capital punishment and abolition of death penalty specifically.

Other detainees who were released from incarceration owing to the legal intervention of ASF France include Zuwaira Tukur, Fatima Haruna and Mohammed Isyaku, all of whom were also charged for capital offences in Kaduna State.

Statistics collated for 2013 alone show that over 140 death sentences were handed down in Nigeria bringing the total figure of those on death row so far to approximately 1,200.

A total of 140 detainees on death row in Nigeria are currently benefitting from the free legal services being offered by ASF France on the platform of the SALI Project.

Speaking on the objective of the SALI Project, ASF France Head of Office, Angela Uwandu, said: "What we are aiming for is the protection of the rights of humans whether they are inmates in prison or citizens on the street. The governor must be commended for making a decision that might very well be a sterling example for others who have such powers to emulate.

"ASF France is determined to continue its objective of contributing to the legislative and legal changes towards a restrictive application of capital punishment in Nigeria."

Source: allAfrica, April 11, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dramatic changes possible for Ohio's death penalty

Murderers in Ohio could not face the death penalty unless the prosecution has DNA or biological evidence, a videotaped confession or another video recording that “conclusively links the defendant to the murder,” under recommendations the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force will consider on Thursday.

The proposal also would eliminate the possibility of the death penalty for kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, all of which can be capital crimes under current state law. And no more death penalty convictions could be based on jailhouse snitches.

The multiagency panel was established by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor and the Ohio State Bar Association to address a variety of concerns – such as race and regional variations – about how capital punishment is carried out in the Buckeye State. The group was not given the responsibility to determine whether the death penalty should continue to be carried out.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, April 9, 2014

Tennessee: Senate authorizes electric chair for executions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Senate has voted to allow the state to electrocute death row inmates if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained.

The measure sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager passed on a 23-3 vote on Wednesday.

The Harriman Republican said current law allows the state to use its alternate execution method only when lethal injection drugs are not legally available. But Yager said there was no provision for what to do if there was a shortage of those drugs.

The state's lethal injection protocol uses a sedative commonly used to euthanize animals, but states are exhausting supplies.

The state's last electrocution was in 2007. The companion bill is awaiting a House floor vote.

Source: The Tennessean, April 9, 2014

Colorado: James Holmes' attorneys file to relocate murder trial

Attorneys for James Holmes, the man charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater, have officially asked a judge to move the trial, saying potential jurors have been exposed to prejudicial news coverage and carry emotional burdens from the massacre.

In motions filed Friday and made public Monday, defense attorneys contend that some of the news coverage "is tantamount to publishing a confession," and that defendant Holmes cannot get a fair trial in Arapahoe County, where the attack occurred.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple charges of murder and attempted murder in the July 2012 shootings in the Denver suburb. His attorneys have acknowledged he was the shooter but say he was in the grip of a psychotic episode.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes' trial is scheduled to begin in October in Centennial, a southeast Denver suburb about 10 miles from the shooting scene.

It was not immediately clear whether the request for a change of venue might further delay the trial. District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr., who is presiding over the case, has not said whether he would consider the request.

The initial deadline for requesting a new venue passed more than a year ago, at Holmes' arraignment hearing on March 12, 2013. The law does allow later requests if the judge deems there is good cause.

The case has been slowed by complicated legal questions involving the insanity plea and death penalty.

The most recent delay came after prosecutors asked for a 2nd mental evaluation. The judge eventually granted the new evaluation, but it was placed on hold amid defense objections.

Moving the trial could be costly and difficult.

A courtroom in the Centennial courthouse has been remodeled at a cost of $26,400 to accommodate a 24-member jury, including the 12 alternates sought by Judge Samour.

He plans to issue 6,000 summonses for potential jurors. It's not known whether that many would be required in a different venue.

A new venue also would raise questions about housing and transporting Holmes. In Centennial, deputies can move him between the courthouse and the neighboring jail relatively easily.

Source: CBS news, April 9, 2014

'Penal Reform International' launches competition for best journalism investigating death penalty and life (or long-term) imprisonment

The death penalty remains in many parts of the globe, while around the world people are imprisoned for decades at a time. While trials, sentences and executions often make the headlines, other features of the death penalty and life imprisonment are largely unknown.

The focus could be on such subjects as individual stories, investigations into prison conditions or wider considerations about the laws and regulations about the death penalty.

We are looking for entries published anywhere in the world between 1 April 2013 and 30 April 2014, in any media format, in Arabic, English or Russian.

Winners will receive an expenses-paid two-day trip to London in October 2014, including a one-day visit to the offices of The Guardian newspaper. There they will be able to see the paper being put together, meet journalists working on relevant issues and receive advice and feedback on their articles. Winning articles will also be published by PRI on its website.

Full details of the competition and its terms and conditions are provided below:

This competition is taking place as part of PRI’s multi-regional project ‘Progressive abolition of the death penalty and the implementation of humane alternative sanctions after a moratorium or abolition‘, funded by the European Union (EU) through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and in partnership with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).

Entries can be submitted to info@penalreform.org.

Penal Reform International is a non-profit association, registered in the Netherlands.

Texas executes Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas

Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas
Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas
A man who escaped prison while serving a murder sentence in Mexico was executed Wednesday by the US state of Texas for a separate 1997 killing.

Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, 44, was in the US illegally when he killed a university professor who had hired him to work on a home renovation project.

Texas' parole and pardons board refused to delay his case.

Hernandez-Llanas becomes the sixth Texas prisoner executed this year. He was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m.

He is also the second person this week executed in the state by lethal injection with a new supply of pentobarbital.

Hernandez-Llanas spent four hours Wednesday with close relatives, including his mother and some of his brothers.

This week a US appeals court rejected a bid by lawyers for Hernandez-Llanas and another death row inmate, Tommy Lynn Sells, to learn who is supplying Texas with the drug.

They argued they needed to know the source in order to ensure the executions would not be botched by the use of expired or ineffective drugs.

But Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials have refused to identify the source of the sedative, saying secrecy is needed to protect the provider from threats of violence.

Mental impairment claim

In 1997, Glen Lich, 49, hired Hernandez-Llanas to work for him.

Unbeknownst to Lich, Hernandez-Llanas had recently escaped from a Mexican prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence for a 1989 murder.

Several days later, Hernandez-Llanas lured Lich away from his house by telling him falsely there was a problem with a generator. He beat the man to death with a length of steel rebar, then entered the house and attacked Lich's wife.

Sentenced in 2000 for Lich's murder, he was among more than four dozen Mexican nationals awaiting execution in the US in 2004 when the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled they had not been properly informed of their consular rights when arrested.

Another one of those Mexican nationals, Edgar Tamayo, 46, was executed by Texas in January despite objections of both the Mexican and US governments.

Euclides del Moral, a Mexico foreign ministry official, said on Tuesday "the execution of a Mexican national is of great concern".

But the issue did not play a large part in Hernandez-Llanas' appeals, which focused primarily on claims that his mental impairment made him ineligible for the death penalty.

Hernandez-Llanas becomes the 6th inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, the 514th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982; and the 275th inmate to be put to death in Texas since Rick Perry became governor in 2001.

Hernandez-Llanas becomes the 16th inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1375th overall since the nation resumed executons on January 17, 1977.

Source: BBC News, Agencies, Rick Halperin, April 9, 2014