"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nitrogen gas executions approved by Oklahoma House

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma would become the first state to allow the execution of death row inmates using nitrogen gas under a bill overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday by the House of Representatives.

The House voted 85-10 for the bill by Oklahoma City Republican Rep. Mike Christian, who began studying alternative methods after a botched lethal injection in the spring that led the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of Oklahoma's current three-drug method.

Christian said numerous studies have been conducted on nitrogen hypoxia, which is similar to what pilots at high altitudes can encounter when oxygen supplies diminish. He described the method as humane, painless and easy to administer.

"I believe it's revolutionary," said Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and a staunch advocate of the death penalty. "I think it's the best thing we've come up with since the start of executions by the government."

Christian said prison officials in several other states expressed an interest in his proposal, but he declined to name them.

Rep. Kevin Matthews, who voted against the bill, said he wished the Legislature would spend more time trying to solve such problems as low wages, a lack of affordable health care and poor education outcomes.

"I just don't have the stomach for looking for new ways to kill people," said Matthews, a Tulsa Democrat.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where a similar measure passed a committee earlier this year with bipartisan support.

Under the bill, lethal injection would remain the state's first method of execution, but nitrogen gas would become the second alternative method and be used if injection were declared unconstitutional or if the drugs became unavailable. 

Under current law, electrocution is the second option, followed by firing squad. The bill would make electrocution the third method, followed by firing squad.

Source: WHDH, Associated Press, March 3, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Utah: Firing squad bill passes Senate panel

Firing squad 'armchair' used for the 2010 execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner
Firing squad 'armchair' used for the 2010 execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner
A bill to reinstate Utah's firing squad as a backup execution method easily passed in a Senate committee Monday.

The bill advances closer to becoming law, but not without the committee making an official motion to submit a request to take up the issue of the death penalty after the legislative session.

HB11 would legalize firing squad executions in Utah if drugs needed for lethal injections aren't available 30 days before the date of the death warrant, which would add to current Utah law that allows the firing squad if lethal injection executions ever become unconstitutional, said bill sponsor Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield.

Utah may require a backup method to lethal injections, Ray said, in wake of recent botched executions that have lead to a U.S. Supreme Court case that may cause lethal injections to become unconstitutional.

He said Utah potentially faces the same costly litigation risks if the state continues to carry out lethal injections, as drugs previously used for lethal injections have become unavailable because European pharmaceutical companies that sell the drugs oppose the death penalty and refuse to sell to U.S. prisons, Ray said.

Anti-death penalty groups spoke against the bill, saying the Legislature should instead be spending its time having serious discussions about the moral issue of the death penalty itself, especially as it considers moving the state prison.

"That's the only way that we'll ensure we won't be back here over and over engaging in what is ultimately a doomed effort of deciding on a decent way for the government to kill people," said Anna Brower, public policy advocate with American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said the purpose of HB11 is not to change the Utah law regarding to death penalty.

"The fact of the matter is that is the law, and if we don't like it then that is a separate conversation to have," Thatcher said. "What we shouldn't be doing is allowing a manufacturer of a product to tell the state of Utah that because they don't like our policy they will deny us the product and use that to get around existing law."

Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, proposed a motion for legislative leadership to address Utah's death penalty during the upcoming interim session. The proposal passed with 1 dissenting vote from Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, who said the motion would just "clog up" the system with another "misfit bill" that no lawmaker wants to address.

Davis said Utah's death penalty is an appropriate issue that an interim committee needs to debate.

"If we can't get those cocktails, then we need to change the law," he said. "And it's looking like we cannot get those cocktails anymore - not without horrendous side effects."

The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted 4-1 to favorably recommend HB11 to the full Senate. Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, was the sole dissenting vote.

Source: Deseret News, March 3, 2015

Brother of executed Utah killer Ronnie Lee Gardner opposes reviving firing squad

The brother of the last man executed by firing squad in Utah urged lawmakers Monday not to bring back the practice as an alternative to lethal injection, calling it cruel and unnecessarily brutal.

"I got a chance to look at my brother's chest after he was shot," said Randy Gardner, the brother of Ronnie Lee Gardner, who was executed by firing squad in Utah in 2010.

"I could have stuck all 4 fingers in his chest," Gardner said, adding he believed it blew his brother's heart through his back. "To me that's totally cruel and unusual punishment."

But a committee endorsed 4-1 and sent to the full Senate HB11, which would make the firing squad the alternative to lethal injection if the state is unable to get access to the chemical cocktail used in the executions. The bill already passed the House.

"[A firing squad] may seem a little more barbaric, but it does what we need it to do in the end," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield.

Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio have recently experienced botched executions by lethal injection, when the drugs administered did not kill the condemned men quickly, leaving them gasping or convulsing on the gurney.

Ray said a study by the University of Utah found that there is a 34 percent chance executions using a new blend of lethal chemicals will be botched. So an alternative is needed if the state can't get the chemicals it has traditionally used, and that alternative, he argued, should be the firing squad.

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake and the Coaltion of Utahns Against the Death Penalty argued that the state should look at doing away with all executions.

The Utah prison inmate who may be the closest to execution is Douglas Carter, convicted of killing Eva Olesen during a 1985 robbery at her Provo home, although he still has legal actions pending in state and federal courts.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, March 3, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Iran: Six Sunni Kurdish prisoners at imminent risk of execution

Six Sunni Kurdish prisoners were taken to an unknown place of execution. According to reports the prisoners of Ward 10 in Rajai Shahr prison were brutally beaten and taken away while their hands and feet were tied and eyes were blindfolded.

The prisoners include Hamed Ahmadi, Kamal Mollaei, Hadi Husseini, Sedigh Mohamadi, Jamshid Dehghani.

Jahangir Dehghani was blindfolded and transferred to an unknown place, according to the reports received by BCR Group.

All the inmates are young, aged between 27 to 33.

They were reportedly beaten severely and insulted during the attack that caused the wound in their hands and legs.

The prison officials have informed the inmates’ relatives to meet their children for the last time.

The prisoners have been arrested and sentenced to death on the charge of Moharebeh, acting against national security and propaganda against the regime of Iran after enduring excruciating months in Islamic Republic torture chambers in 2009.

Source: Kaveh Taheri, Journalist and Human Rights activist, March 3, 2015.

Iran: 6 at Imminent Danger of Execution

6 death row Kurdish Sunni prisoners have been transferred to an unknown location. Families of prisoners have been asked visit met their loved ones for the last time. Right groups believe the prisoners might be executed within the coming 24 hours. Iran Human Rights (IHR) calls for immediate reaction of the international community and urges the Western leaders meeting with the Iranian Foreign minister today, to put pressure on Iran to stop these unlawful executions.

Unofficial sources from Iran report that 6 Sunni Muslim prisoners, Jamshid and Jahangir Dehgani (brothers), Hamed Ahmadi and Kamal Molayee, Sedigh Mohammadi and Hadi Hosseini belonging to the Kurdish ethnic minority in Iran have been transferred out of their prison wards in Rajaishahr prison of Karaj to an unknown location. According to these reports the prisoners were brutally beaten and taken away while their hands and feet were tied and eyes were blindfolded.

Some family members of the prisoners have confirmed to IHR that they have been asked by the prison officials to urgently visit death row family members. 1 of the family members has been told to come for the last visit.

IHR is strongly concerned that the execution of the 6 Sunni Kurdish prisoners could be imminent.

Hamed Ahmadi, Jamshid Dehghani and his younger brother Jahangir Dehghani, Kamal Mosunni-kordlayee, Hadi Hosseini and Sedigh Mohammadi are among 6 Sunni Muslim men from Iran's Kurdish minority who were sentenced to death after being convicted of vaguely-worded offences including Moharebeh (enmity against God) and "corruption on earth".

IHR calls for a reaction by the international community to save these prisoners. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR, said: These prisoners have been subjected to ill-treatment, unfair trials and are possibly sentenced to death as part of the Iranian authorities' crackdown of the Sunni minority in Iran. They are being executed while the Iranian Foreign Minister is meeting with the US Secretary of States and possibly other Western leaders in Switzerland. We ask the international community to use all the channels in order to stop the executions. The world must show that their dialogues with the Iranian authorities also benefits the human rights".

Background: Jamshid and Jahangir Dehgani (brothers), Hamed Ahmadi and Kamal Molayee were arrested in 2009. They were accused along with 6 others of involvement in the assassination of a senior Sunni cleric with ties to the Iranian authorities.

They have denied any involvement, saying that their arrest and detention preceded the assassination by several months. They were sentenced to death by the branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, convicted of "Moharebeh" (enmity against God) and "acts against the nation's security". Their trial lasted about 10 minutes and they haven't seen their lawyer, according to sources who have been in contact with Iran Human Rights (IHR).

The 6 other prisoners were executed in December 2012, but the death sentences of the 4 prisoners were postponed.

Their execution was scheduled to be carried out in on September 25, 2013, and June 15, 2014, but it was postponed possibly due to the international attention.

In 2014 more than 19 human rights group called on the Iranian authorities to stop the execution of 33 Sunni prisoners.

Source: Iran Human Rights, March 3, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Bali Nine Chan and Sukumaran transferred for execution

A Wolf armoured vehicle carrying Bali nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran
Sukumaran leaves Kerobokan prison to begin the transfer to Nusakambangan
prison island where they are to be executed. Photo: Kate Geraghty (SMH)
Australia's Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are on their way to the prison island where they are scheduled to be executed.

Two fortified police vehicles left the prison at 5.18am local time. The second vehicle, known as a Wolf, is believed to be carrying Chan and Sukumaran.

They were taken directly to Bali's airport where military aircraft will fly the pair to Cilacap, the departure point for Nusakambangan - the central Java island Indonesia has reserved for the executions.

More than 100 police, a water cannon and armoured military vehicle were stationed outside Kerobokan jail in Bali as authorities prepared for the transfer.

Chan's older brother Michael was turned away from the prison and left with Chan's Indonesian girlfriend, who was in tears.

Speaking in Canberra before the pair were moved out of the prison, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said while he and all Australians were 'revolted' by the imminent executions, he still hadn't given up hope they could be spared.

'Even at the eleventh hour I hope there might be a change of heart in Indonesia and these executions might be stopped,' he said.

'I just want everyone to know the Australian government will never rest in our determination to let Indonesia know that we oppose the death penalty, we oppose drug crime.'

Earlier, Kerobokan prison governor Sudjonggo said he had supper with Chan and Sukumaran.

He said Sukumaran, who has become an accomplished artist during his nine years in jail, would take pencils and a drawing book to Nusakambangan.

Chan, who has been ordained as a Christian minister, would take only clothes.

Both men would take bibles, Sudjonggo told reporters.

The Australians have become the prison's model inmates, introducing various forms of rehabilitation for other inmates.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she felt devastated as the pair prepared to leave their Bali jail for execution.

'These two men have been in jail for over 10 years, they have paid for their crime and are still paying for their crime, that is as it should be,' Ms Bishop told the Macquarie Radio Network.

Source: SkyNews, March 4, 2015

Bali nine prisoners transferred from Kerobokan to execution island under heavy military guard

Riot police gather outside Kerobokan prison in Bali ahead of the transfer of
Bali nine duo Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. Photo: Amilia Rosa
The Bali nine prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have been transferred from Kerobokan prison under heavy military guard as they begin their journey to Nusakambangan island, the place where they are to be executed by firing squad.

The prisoners were driven through the gates of Kerobokan in a Wolf armoured personnel carrier in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

They were followed by police in a Barracuda armoured vehicle.

Andrew Chan's brother Michael Chan arrived at the prison just after 5am local time. He tried to convince officials to let him inside to see his brother but they rebuffed his efforts. He was accompanied by Andrew's Indonesian girlfriend, Phoebe, who left in tears after they tried to negotiate their way inside.

Streets have been blocked off and two buses of crowd-control police carrying riot shields and batons have been deployed along with a contingent of military. A water cannon was stationed outside the prison in case of trouble.

The Australians are now being taken to Denpasar airport, from where they will be transported in Hercules and CN295 military planes, one for the prisoners and their guards, one for security personnel.

Chan and Sukumaran will be able to take only personal belongings with them to Nusakambangan.

Once at the penal island, the pair will be moved into specially prepared isolation cells and await news of when their executions will take place. They will be given 72 hours' notice before they meet the firing squad.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Allard, March 4, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Alternatives to the death penalty: Report

Alternatives to the death penalty Information Pack

A short guide to the fundamental issues and arguments linked to introduction of alternative sanctions following abolition of the death penalty. 

It reviews current trends in the application of long-term and life imprisonment, highlighting relevant international and regional human rights standards and provides examples of good practice.

Topics covered include:

  • Current practices worldwide regarding alternatives to the death penalty
  • Different forms of life sentence
  • Life without parole
  • A human rights framework for life and long-term prisoners
  • Solitary confinement for life and long-term prisoners
  • Vulnerable life and long-term prisoners
  • Monitoring prisons where life and long-term prisoners are held
  • Social reintegration of those serving life sentences
  • Plus a 12-point plan for policy-makers on how to implement alternative sanctions to the death penalty that respect international human rights norms and standards.

This edition was published in 2015 and replaces the first edition published in 2011.

Source: Penal Reform International, March 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Saudi gunpoint rapist beheaded

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia beheaded a convicted rapist on Tuesday, bringing to 36 the number of death sentences carried out in the kingdom this year.

Mohammed Bin Ali Bin Mohammad Al Bishi, a Saudi national, assaulted his victim at gunpoint, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

“He also committed a number of armed robberies causing panic among society. He had entered a number of homes by force and tried to kidnap and rape women and children,” the statement said.

It added that Al Bishi was sentenced to death “as punishment and to serve as a deterrent to others”.

Authorities carried out the sentence in the southwestern region of Asir.

Drug trafficking, rape, murder,homosexuality, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom’s strict version of Sharia.

Amnesty International said in its annual report released last week that death sentences are often imposed “after unfair trials”.

The London-based watchdog said some defendants claimed to have been tortured or “otherwise coerced or misled into making false confessions” before trial.

The kingdom executed 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013, according to an AFP count.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 3, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Bali Nine duo to be moved to execution site

Kerobokan prison, Bali, Indonesia (Photo: Daily Mail)
Two Australian drug-smugglers facing the death penalty in Indonesia will be transferred on Wednesday to the island where they will be executed, authorities in Bali have confirmed.

The execution by firing squad of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, is expected soon after the transfer.

Australia's foreign minister said she would continue to press the Indonesian government for a stay of execution.

Indonesia has some of the toughest drug laws in the world.

"It [the transfer] is planned for tomorrow [Wednesday] afternoon. Everything is ready. We will use two planes for the convicts and security personnel," the head of the Bali High Court, Momock Bambang Samiarso, told journalists.

Chan and Sukumaran will be transferred from Kerobokan jail in Bali to maximum security prison facilities on Nusakambangan Island, off Java, where the execution will take place.

They will be accompanied by two other prisoners from the Bali jail, the Associated Press reported.

The pair - a 45-year-old Nigerian man and a 30-year-old woman from Spain - are also facing execution.

The four will be simultaneously executed along with six others from Nigeria, Brazil, France, Ghana and Indonesia, AP said.

Australia has mounted a sustained diplomatic campaign to try and stop the shootings going ahead.

"I will continue to contact counterpart ministers to press for a stay of execution," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Chan and Sukumaran were convicted of trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005, but relatives and supporters have argued that they have been rehabilitated while in jail.

Lawyers for the two men said they were still attempting to mount a legal challenge but Mr Prasetyo said on Monday that any legal appeals were no longer valid following the earlier rejection of clemency by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Source: BBC News, March 3, 2015

Bali nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to be transferred to Nusakambangan on Wednesday

Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be transferred to the execution island of Nusakambanganon Wednesday, it has been announced.

Momock Bambang Samiarso, Bali's chief prosecutor and the man in charge of the transfer, made the announcement after meeting with police, military and other officials.

The two Australians, reformed drug smugglers, are aware they will be moved, said Kerobokan prison governor Sudjonggo. He said the duo had given some of their belongings to other members of the Bali nine syndicate and Sukumaran had told them to "be careful", or behave well, after he left.

The duo will be allowed to bring personal belongings with them, but their families will not be able to visit them on Wednesday, as preparations for the move will restrict access, Sudjonggo told Fairfax Media earlier.

Chan's brother Michael and Sukumaran's mother Raji visited the pair on Tuesday but left the penitentiary before news emerged of the timing of their transfer. Other family members are expected to come over from Australia soon. Families will be able to visit the two men on Nusakambangan.

As Sudjonggo spoke, they were being comforted by their lawyer, Julian McMahon.

The transfer will use two military transport planes, Mr Momock said. One will contain the Australians and their guards. The other will contain another contingent of security personnel.

He said the transfer would occur on Wednesday "siang", or day. The phrase usually denotes a time between 10am and 3pm.

Speaking later, Mr Mocock told reporters to "standby from the morning", meaning the transfer could happen even earlier.

The men are expected to be transported to Denpasar airport from the prison in armoured personnel vans, most likely the police's Barracuda vehicles.

Indonesian lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran have released a statement calling on the Attorney-General to refrain from executing the Australians or transferring them from Bali's Kerobokan jail while legal action is underway.

Pasir Putih "supermax" prison on Nusukambangan Island,
where Indonesia carried out previous executions.
The statement said the men had challenged the dismissal to their appeal in the Jakarta State Administrative Court on Monday.

Secondly, they had submitted a report to the Judicial Commission on February 13 alleging violations of judicial conduct and ethics.

This was based on information obtained by the men's former lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, who alleged the judges who sentenced Chan and Sukumaran to death offered a lighter sentence in exchange for money.

"Indonesian criminal law basically guarantees the rights of convicts to defend their legal rights," the statement said.

"Due to the ongoing legal recourse by Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan it would therefore be appropriate if the Attorney-General's office respects such legal recourse by refraining from carrying out the execution of sentence against Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, including transferring them from Kerobokan prison to the prison at Nusakambangan."

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, March 3, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Georgia: Execution of Kelly Gissendaner postponed again

Kelly Gissendaner in her Georgia death row cell. (AP)
The execution of the only woman on Georgia's death row was postponed late Monday because of a problem with the drugs in the lethal injection. 

Kelly Gissendaner was waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court would halt her execution when the Georgia Department of Corrections called it off about 11 p.m.

"Prior to the execution, the drugs were sent to an independent lab for testing of potency," the agency said. "The drugs fell within the acceptable testing limits."

But, official said, in the hours leading up to the execution, the chemicals appeared cloudy.

"The Department of Corrections immediately consulted with a pharmacist, and in an abundance of caution, Inmate Gissendaner's execution has been postponed."

Gissendaner was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of her husband — carried out by her lover, who got a life sentence.

A letter to the governor signed by 500 Georgia clergy members said the mother of three, who completed a theology program in prison, has turned her life around since the murder.

The 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals denied a request for a stay of execution Monday, rejecting defense claims that Georgia's use of a non-FDA-approved drug for the lethal injection — obtained in secrecy — violates her constitutional rights.

Gissendaner appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has halted executions that use a different drug. The high court had not yet weighed in when the drug problem was discovered.

Officials gave no date as to when it would be rescheduled.

The only woman on Georgia's death row would have become the first female to be executed in 70 years in the state.

Police in riot gear stood outside the prison while a hundred people were holding a vigil and praying for Gissendaner as the time of her execution neared.

A petition saying the mother of three has turned her life around, even earning a theology degree while in prison, had garnered more than 60,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon, just hours before her scheduled execution.

Gissendaner, 47, has become a "powerful voice for good," the petition says of the woman convicted of orchestrating her husband's death in 1997.

"While incarcerated, she has been a pastoral presence to many, teaching, preaching and living a life of purpose," the petition states. "Kelly is a living testament to the possibility of change and the power of hope. She is an extraordinary example of the rehabilitation that the corrections system aims to produce."

On Sunday night, about 200 people attended a vigil at Emory University's Cannon Chapel, where they sang her praises.

"Killing her is not going to bring anything back. It's not going to undo what's been done," priest Kelly Zappa told CNN affiliate WSB.

Added the Rev. Della Bacote of Nashville: "I'm heartbroken because I testified on Tuesday at the clemency hearing. I heard what others had to say, and I was so moved."

The pleas did not sway Georgia's high court. In a 5-2 decision Monday afternoon, the state Supreme Court denied her request for a stay, and it also dismissed a constitutional challenge claiming that her sentence was disproportionate.

Not since Lena Baker, an African-American convicted of murder and pardoned decades later, had Georgia executed a woman. The state was scheduled to snap that 70-year streak last week before Gissendaner's execution was postponed.

Just hours before she was scheduled to die by injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Jackson on Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Corrections announced it had postponed the execution until Monday at 7 p.m. "due to weather and associated scheduling issues," department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said in an email.

Gissendaner was convicted in a February 1997 murder plot that targeted her husband in suburban Atlanta.

She was romantically involved with Gregory Owen and conspired with the 43-year-old to have her husband, Douglas Gissendaner, killed, according to court testimony. Owen wanted Kelly Gissendaner to file for a divorce, but she was concerned that her husband would "not leave her alone if she simply divorced him," court documents said.

The Gissendaners had already divorced once, in 1993, and they remarried in 1995.

Kelly Gissendaner and Owen planned the murder for months. On February 7, 1997, she dropped Owen off at her home, gave him a nightstick and hunting knife, and went out dancing with girlfriends.

Douglas Gissendaner also spent the evening away from home, going to a church friend's house to work on cars. Owen lay in wait until he returned.

When Douglas Gissendaner came home around 11:30 p.m., Owen forced him by knifepoint into a car and drove him to a remote area of Gwinnett County.

There, Owen ordered his victim into the woods, took his watch and wallet to make it look like a robbery, hit him in the head with the nightstick and stabbed Douglas Gissendaner in the neck eight to 10 times.

Kelly Gissendaner arrived just as the murder took place, but she did not immediately get out of her car. She later checked to make sure her husband was dead, then Owen followed her in Douglas Gissendaner's car to retrieve a can of kerosene that Kelly Gissendaner had left for him.

Owen set her husband's car on fire in an effort to hide evidence and left the scene with Kelly Gissendaner.

Police discovered the burned-out automobile the morning after the murder but did not find the body. Authorities kicked off a search.

Kelly Gissendaner, meanwhile, went on local television appealing to the public for information on her husband's whereabouts.

Her and Owen's story started to unravel after a series of police interviews. On February 20, Douglas Gissendaner's face-down body was found about a mile from his car. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be knife wounds to the neck, but the medical examiner couldn't tell which strike killed Douglas Gissendaner because animals had devoured the skin and soft tissue on the right side of his neck.

On February 24, Owen confessed to the killing and implicated Kelly Gissendaner, who was arrested the next day and charged.

While in jail awaiting trial, Kelly Gissendaner grew angry when she heard that Owen was to receive a 25-year sentence for his role in the murder. (Owen is serving life in prison at a facility in Davisboro, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records.)

She began writing letters to hire a third person who would falsely confess to taking her to the crime scene at gunpoint.

She asked her cellmate, Laura McDuffie, to find someone willing to do the job for $10,000, and McDuffie turned Kelly Gissendaner's letters over to authorities via her attorney.

Kelly Gissendaner has exhausted all state and federal appeals, the attorney general said in a statement last week. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied her clemency request, Steve Hayes, a spokesman for the board, said Wednesday.

In the clemency application, Gissendaner's lawyers argued she was equally or less culpable than Owen, who actually did the killing. Both defendants were offered identical plea bargains before trial: life in prison with an agreement to not seek parole for 25 years.

Owen accepted the plea bargain and testified against his former girlfriend. Gissendaner was willing to plead guilty, her current lawyers said, but consulted with her trial lawyer and asked prosecutors to remove the stipulation about waiting 25 years to apply for parole.

According to her clemency appeal, her lead trial attorney, Edwin Wilson, said he thought the jury would not sentence her to death "because she was a woman and because she did not actually kill Doug. ... I should have pushed her to take the plea but did not because I thought we would get straight up life if she was convicted."

Her appeal lawyers also argued that Gissendaner had expressed deep remorse for her actions, become a model inmate and grown spiritually. They said her death would cause further hardship for her children.

For her last meal, she requested: two Burger King Whoppers with cheese (with everything), two large orders of fries, popcorn, cornbread, a side of buttermilk and a salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, carrots, cheese, boiled eggs and Newman's Own buttermilk dressing, the Corrections Department said. She also requested a glass of lemonade and cherry-vanilla ice cream for dessert.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, only 15 women have been executed in the United States since 1977.

Sources: NBC News, CNN, March 2, 2015 (local time)

Strapped to a gurney, waiting for death ... or a stay
"Robert Waterhouse was scheduled for execution at 6:00pm this evening. In accordance with the established execution protocol he was strapped to the gurney and the needles were inserted into each arm about 45 minutes prior to his appointed time. Just before 6:00, however, he received a 45-minute stay which morphed into an almost 3-hour endurance test as he remained on the gurney as the seconds, minutes and then hours slid by at an excruciatingly slow pace, waiting for someone to tell him if hope was at hand, if he would live or die. Just before 9:00 he received his answer, the plungers were depressed, the syringes emptied and he was summarily killed. Here on the row we can discern the approximate time of death when we see the old white Cadillac hearse trundle in through the back sally port gate to pick up the body, the same familiar 1960′s era hearse I’ve watched for almost 40 years, coming in to retrieve the bodies of murdered prisoners, which used to happen on a regular basis back when I was in open population. I’ve seen a lot of guys, both friends and foes, carted off in that old hearse. Anyway, pause for a moment to imagine being on that gurney for over three hours, the needles in your arms. You’ve already come to terms with your imminent death, you are reconciled with the reality that this is it, this is how you will die, that there will be no reprieve. Then, at the last moment, a cruel trick, you’re given that slim hope, which you instinctively grasp. Some court, somewhere, has given you a temporary stay. You stare at the ceiling while the clock on the wall ticks away. You are totally alone, not a friendly soul in sight, surrounded by grim-faced men who are determined to kill you. Your heart pounds, your body feels electrified and every second seems like an eternity as a Kaleidoscope of wild thoughts crash around franticly in your compressed mind. After 3 hours you are drained, exhausted, terrorized, and then the phone on the wall rings and you’re told it’s time to die…"

- William Van Poyck, Death Row Diary, February 25, 2012. Van Poyck has spent nearly 26 years on death row in solitary confinement. He has written to his sister about his life in prison, and in recent years she has published his letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. In these letters, Poyck writes about everything from the novels and history books he is reading and shows he has watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life–punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution. The excerpts selected by Death Penalty News focus on the inhumane treatment he and other individuals on death row endure as they move ever closer to their own finalities. William Van Poyck was executed on June 13, 2013. Read more here.

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Monday, March 2, 2015

Montana: Life in prison for Smith

Ronald Smith should not be executed by the state of Montana, says the Herald editorial board.

One slow step forward, and one hastily scurrying step back. That's the best way to describe the state of Montana's dances with abolishing the death penalty - a move that would affect Ronald Smith, an Albertan who's been on Montana's death row for more than 30 years.

Last week, the Montana legislature got very close to joining the civilized world and abolishing the death penalty, but abolition was defeated by a single vote. The state's senate has already passed an abolition law, but the house hasn't, and this time, things ended in a 50-50 stalemate. That means the abolition proposal is sunk for this year's legislative session.

Smith is 1 of only 2 inmates on Montana's death row; 74 other inmates were executed over the years. The Red Deer man pleaded guilty in 1983 to 2 counts of homicide and 2 of kidnapping for his role in the deaths of Blackfoot Indian Reservation residents Thomas Running Rabbit, Jr. and Harvey Mad Man, Jr.

Representative David Moore, who sponsored the abolition bill in the house, said he "couldn't imagine a worse fate than being locked up in prison for the rest of my life." Exactly. That's worse than death, and it certainly is a greater deterrent. To have one's freedom taken away forever and to spend the rest of one's days sitting in jail, living with the knowledge of having committed a horrible crime, is much more severe punishment than the oblivion death offers. It's also a far more humane and civilized way of dealing with criminals.

Even U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is poised to leave his position, said he opposes the death penalty because "there's always the possibility that mistakes will be made." Indeed, there have been numerous highly publicized cases of innocent people being executed in the U.S. for crimes they didn't commit.

In Smith's case, his guilt is not in question. He even requested the death penalty, but then changed his mind, and the intervening years have been basically a series of delays in executing him, including an appeal for clemency to the state's governor in 2013, who didn't act either way on it before leaving office.

"Our system of justice is the best in the world," Holder said. We disagree. The best justice system in the world doesn't stoop to the level of the murderers it imprisons, by killing them. Research has shown that the inevitable years of appeals that follow a death-row inmate's conviction are far more expensive than simply maintaining him for life behind bars.

Smith's roller-coaster death row ride should end and he should spend the remainder of his natural life in prison.

Source: Editorial, Calgary Herald, March 2, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Crucial review on case of Pinay death convict in Indonesia set on Tuesday

A district court in Yogyakarta will begin on Tuesday its crucial review on the case of a convicted Filipina drug smuggler who is facing execution in Indonesia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

The review will determine whether the Filipino convict's death sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment or not.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said "the process is already under way" after Indonesia's Supreme Court transmitted the Filipina's case records to the lower court.

"We are hopeful that after completion of review, there will be a commutation of the death sentence," Jose said at a press briefing.

The review was undertaken following a request from the Philippine government in a bid to save the unnamed Filipino from execution by firing squad.

Jose said the DFA is not aware how long the review will last.

All death penalty cases in Indonesia are entitled to at least 1 judicial review even if the case has already been upheld by the Supreme Court.

"We have 1 more remedy in this case so let us await for the outcome," Jose said. "We are taking this 1 step at a time."

The woman, who entered Indonesia as a tourist, was arrested by authorities at the Yogyakarta Airport on April 25, 2010 for trafficking 2.6 kilograms of heroin.

Smuggling of large quantities of prohibited drugs is punishable by death in countries like Indonesia and China.

Since 2011, 5 Filipinos drug couriers were put to death in China through lethal injection.

In exchange for huge payments, reportedly ranging from $3,000 to $4,000, Filipino women and lately even men are reportedly being hired by West African drug syndicates to smuggle drugs mainly in Asia and South America, sometimes by ingesting it.

A total of 805 Filipinos are detained abroad for drug-related offenses, according to 2014 DFA data.

Source: GMA News, March 2, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Bali 9 member Martin Stephens says Indonesia's death penalty destroys hope

Martin Stephens
'It is more humane to just take me out the back and shoot me like Andrew and Myuran,' says courier who was convicted to life in prison

One of the Bali 9 drug smugglers sentenced to life in jail says he has lost hope under Indonesia's drugs policy and believes it would be more humane to execute him now, rather than let him die in jail.

Martin Stephens was one of the couriers caught in the 2005 heroin trafficking plot for which Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are awaiting execution.

In a letter to the Australian newspaper, Stephens said the decision of the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, to refuse the pair clemency made him wonder what hope there was for freedom or redemption for other drug offenders, like himself.

"It is more humane to just take me out the back and shoot me like Andrew and Myuran," he wrote. "What frightens me now is that the new policy of Jokowi has destroyed hope."

Stephens, 39, is serving his life term in a jail in East Java, where he is involved in teaching English.

But the newspaper reported he regretted not being able to properly support his wife, Christine Puspayanti, whom he married while in prison, and was also sad about the impending executions of Sukumaran, 33, and Chan, 31.

"It could be me being taken to Nusa Kambangan and being shot in the heart. It's a terrifying thought," he wrote.

Bali's police chief, Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu, said he was still coordinating with the prosecutor, government agencies and the military regarding the transfer of Chan and Sukumaran to the execution site. The transfer is expected to happen within days.

"We're doing the maximum preparation so that when the 2 death-row convicts leave Kerobokan prison for Batu prison, they'll go safely and comfortably," he said on Sunday.

For safety reasons, he would prefer to transport the men during the day. "We're still coordinating to get the best results so there will be no problems," he said.

The special mobile brigade police on Friday rehearsed the transport of the men under heavy security to Bali's airport, where the military could then fly them to Nusa Kambangan, an island off central Java.

Widodo has said no number of representations from foreign governments on behalf of their death row citizens would stop him carrying out the executions.

Source: The Guardian, March 2, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Indian HC stays death sentence of man who killed five persons in 2004

The Delhi High Court today stayed the execution of a man convicted for the murder of 5 persons, including 2 children, in Chhattisgarh in 2004 and whose review plea had been rejected by the apex court.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Ashutosh Kumar restrained the prison authorities from carrying out the execution till April 7.

The convict's "black warrant" (death warrant) was scheduled to be signed on March 4.

The bench issued notice to the Centre and Chhattisgarh government seeking their reply on the plea of convict Sonu Sardar who has sought quashing of the President's rejection of his mercy plea.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising and advocate Rishab Sancheti appeared for Sardar and contended there was delay of 2 years and 2 months by the President in deciding his mercy plea.

Advocate Atul Jha, appearing for the Chhattisgarh government, opposed the plea, saying the Delhi High Court did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the petition.

Sonu Sardar, along with his brother and accomplices, had killed 5 persons of a family, including a woman and 2 children, during a dacoity bid in Chhattisgarh's Cher village in November 2004.

The trial court had slapped death penalty on him and the Chhattisgarh High Court had upheld it.

The Supreme Court in February 2012 had concurred with the findings of 2 courts below and affirmed the punishment.

Then in February 2015, the apex court also rejected his review plea.

Sardar, in his petition, has also sought commuting of his death sentence to life imprisonment on account of delay in deciding his mercy plea as well as for allegedly keeping him in "solitary confinement illegally".

Source: Press Trust of India, March 2, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Algeria: Death Penalty for the kidnapping and murder of Mebrek

The 2 killers of young itinerant merchant, Amirouche Mebrek in January 2014, were sentenced to death. 

The verdict was pronounced late in the evening of Sunday, March 1.

The 2 accused, Amroun Youcef and Oultaf Madjid have denied the facts and Amroun Youcef had tried to attribute the murder to terrorists but was caught by scientific evidence presented by the prosecutor, according to sources close to the file.

The representative of the prosecution estimated, during his closing argument, that the Amirouche Mebrek case was as serious as that of the French tourist Herve Gourdel, who had been beheaded by terrorists in September. Hence the need of a sentence at the height of the shock suffered by the population and the torment lived by the family of the victim, the source added.

Source: Ennahar Online, March 2, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Indonesia says legal appeals irrelevant as Bali nine transfer date to be decided Tuesday

Pasir Putih Maximum Security Prison on Nusakambangan
Island, Central Java, Indonesia. 
The date of the transfer of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan will be decided on Tuesday, Indonesian officials have revealed, as its government maintains there is no need to wait for legal appeals to be heard before executing the Bali nine duo.

Bali's chief prosectuor, Momock Bambang Samiarso, revealed the information after leaving Kerobokan prison late on Monday, where he met with prison governor Sudjonggo, Australian consul-general Majell Hind and lawyer for the pair Julian McMahon.

"[The date] will be decided tomorrow at the co-ordination meeting," Mr Momock said.

The comments come as HM Prasetyo, Indonesia's Attorney-General, said that numerous legal appeals would not affect the timing of the execution and were irrelevant.

Chan and Sukumaran's lawyers plan to lodge an appeal in the next week. They are appealing the refusal of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to grant clemency to the Australian drug smugglers, saying he did not consider their case properly.

Several others slated to be executed also have legal appeals in the works, including one case involving a Philippine woman, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, which is due to be heard on Tuesday.

"The [clemency] request was rejected so it is the final decision. Actually, after clemency there is no more legal avenues left," Mr Prasetyo said.

Counsel for the Australians, Julian McMahon, said Mr Prasetyo's stance would bring international condemnation upon Indonesia. It was important that his clients' case was tested on its merits and the rule of law was respected in Indonesia, he added.

Mr Prasetyo said that preparations were "95 per cent" complete for the simultaneous killing by firing squad of the Bali nine duo and eight other drug felons. All up, nine of those to be killed are foreigners.

"Regarding the transfer [of Chan and Sukumaran from Bali], it will be done as soon as possible," he added. "It's all related to technical issues. Maybe there are still some things that need to be prepared.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Allard, March 2, 2015

Prosecutor, police recall ‘terrifying’ executions

Police shooting range on Nusakambangan Prison Island,
where executions by firing squad are carried out.
There was a long silence when a senior prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) brought up his experiences leading three separate executions of death-row convicts during an interview last week.

The prosecutor, a former head of the North Maluku Prosecutor’s Office identified only by the initials AK, said the task he was assigned to was not something to be proud of.

“I have buried those dark memories,” AK, whose credentials also include the position of deputy head of the Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office, told The Jakarta Post.

“I was nervous about the executions, even until the last seconds before the firing squad pulled their triggers. But I had to fulfill my duties,” he said.

AK led his first execution in 2006, but refused to go into detail. He was only willing to discuss the execution of mass murderer Ahmad Suradji in 2008 in North Sumatra. The shaman was convicted in of murdering 42 women in 1998.

“The convict didn’t show signs of grief. It was a quick death,” he said.

AK insisted that during all three executions he oversaw, the firing squad never missed.

“All the convicts died within a minute,”.

“Firing squad personnel are all well-trained. They have to be mentally fit for the job,” he said.

Under Law No. 2/1964 on the procedures of an execution, the prosecutor is tasked with leading executions.

The prosecutor is required to announce the date of an execution three days beforehand. A convict should then immediately be transferred to an isolation cell at the location of the execution and be informed that they will face the firing squad.

According to AK, at the time of the execution, the convict is escorted by police personnel to the execution field, which is a restricted area. The convict is required to be blindfolded in his or her transfer to the place of execution.

Fourteen personnel from the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) are assigned to an execution, but only 12 are tasked with shooting while the two others are placed on standby.

According to Brimob chief Brig. Gen. Robby Kaligis, police officers in their early 20s were usually selected to carry out the task as they were considered to be physically and mentally more fit than their seniors.

Robby himself had been part of a firing squad in the 1980s but declined to share his experience as he thought that the execution method was different compared to now.

He explained that the officers selected for the firing squad were given extra training to sharpen their shooting skills but acknowledged that preparing themselves mentally was much more important.

“The shooting is actually the easiest part. It’s much harder to ensure that they are mentally prepared,” he said, adding that such a terrifying experience should be forgotten.

“I don’t want to remember that part of my life. We need to focus on the present and the future,” he said.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Jakarta Post, March 2, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Egypt court lists Hamas 'terrorist group,' sentences Brotherhood members

Court said Hamas targeted civilians and security forces inside the Sinai Peninsula, allegations the group denies

An Egyptian court designated the Palestinian group Hamas as a "terrorist organization," judicial sources said on Saturday, part of a sustained crackdown on opposition groups. In a separate case earlier in the day, a court sentenced the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's top leader, Mohamed Badie, to life in prison, while other members of the group received the death penalty.

Saturday's ruling comes just days after Egypt adopted a new anti-terrorism law allowing the authorities to close the premises of any declared "terrorist" organisation, and to freeze its assets as well as those of its members.

Hamas was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities in Egypt have also declared a "terrorist group." The army ousted one of its leaders, Mohamed Morsi, from the presidency as part of a 2013 coup. Morsi himself is facing several trials on charges that are punishable by death. Some 22,000 people have been arrested since Morsi's ouster, including most of the Brotherhood's leaders, as well as secular activists swept up by police during protests.

The relationship between Egypt's authorities and Hamas has soured since Morsi's ouster. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt since the military coup in 2013. Since then, Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas of aiding armed groups, who have waged a string of deadly attacks on security forces in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

In January, an Egyptian court also declared Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam Brigades a "terrorist" group. The case was based on allegations that al-Qassam staged attacks to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and carried out deadly operations in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, allegations that the group denied. Armed groups in Sinai have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since Morsi's overthrow, vowing revenge for a crackdown on his supporters that has left more than 1,400 people dead.

"The Egyptian court's decision to list the Hamas movement as a terror organization is shocking and is dangerous, and it targets the Palestinian people and its factions of resistance," Hamas said in a statement after the ruling.

"It will have no influence on the Hamas movement," Hamas said.

The ruling Saturday by Judge Mohamed el-Sayed of the Court For Urgent Matters said Hamas had targeted both civilians and security forces inside the Sinai Peninsula, and that the group aimed to harm the country.

"It has been proven without any doubt that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations and the killing of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt," the court wrote, according to state news agency MENA.

While a court ruled in January that Hamas' armed wing was a terrorist organization, Saturday's broader ruling against the entire group has potentially greater consequences for the relationship between Cairo and Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip on Egypt's border.

After the January decision against Hamas' Qassem Brigades, a source close to the armed wing signaled the group would no longer accept Egypt as a broker between it and Israel. Cairo has for many years played a central role in engineering ceasefires between Israel and Hamas, including a truce reached between the sides in August that ended a 50-day Gaza war.

A spokesman for the Egyptian government declined to say what actions the government would take to enforce the ruling.

Meanwhile, Badie, the top leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, was among 14 who were sentenced to life, alongside deputy leader Khairat El-Shater and leading figure Mohamed El-Beltagy. 4 lower-level members were sentenced to death for inciting violence that led to the killing of protesters demonstrating outside a Brotherhood office days before Morsi's ouster.

2 of those sentenced to death and three sentenced to life were tried in absentia. The death sentences are subject to appeal and many of the defendants are already serving lengthy sentences on other charges. Badie has already been sentenced to multiple life terms, and was one of hundreds given the death sentence in a mass trial that drew international criticism of Egypt's judicial system.

Source: Al Jazeera, March 1, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

7 Men and 1 Woman Executed in Iran

Public execution in Iran (file photo)
On 25th and 26th of February, 8 prisoners including 1 woman were executed in prisons of Kerman (Shahab), Bandar Abbas, Jiroft, and Adel Abad in Shiraz.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), on 25th and 26th of February, 7 men and one woman were hanged in prisons of Kerman (Shahab), Bandar Abbas, Jiroft, and Adel Abad in Shiraz.

Hossein Shahriari and Davood Jamal Barezi, who had been charged with drug related crimes, were executed in prison of Jiroft, on 26th February. 

Also, on the same date, Mansoor Kargar, who had been charged with Adultery and Murder, was executed in prison of Bandar Abbas.

In addition, Ali Barsalamat, Moradbakhsh Saboki, Ali Dashtestan and Marzieh Hossein Zehi, were executed because of drug related crimes, in Kerman prison, also on 25th February, Amir Bagherpoor was executed in Adel Abad with charge of Murder.

Source: HRANA News Agency, March 1, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Afghanistan Hangs Reputed Mafia Boss

A man described as one of Afghanistan's most notorious mafia bosses was hanged on February 28.

Rais Khodaidad, also known as Rais Saiudullah, was arrested in September and convicted of multiple counts of kidnapping, extortion, robbery, and murder and sentenced to death by a Kabul court last month.

He was hanged at Kabul's Pol-e Charkhi prison.

He was the 1st person executed since the new Afghan government took power.

Source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, March 1, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty

Raif Badawi
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger whose punishment of 1,000 lashes has prompted international condemnation, may now face the death penalty.

Mr Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, told The Independent in a series of messages that judges in Saudi Arabia's criminal court want him to undergo a re-trial for apostasy. If found guilty, he would face a death sentence.

She said the "dangerous information" had come from "official sources" inside the conservative kingdom, where Mr Badawi has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes - administered at a rate of 50 per week - for criticising the country's clerics through his liberal blog.

In 2013, a judge threw out the charge of apostasy against the 31-year-old blogger after he assured the court that he was a Muslim. The evidence against him had included the fact that he pressed the "Like" button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

The news that the charge may now be re-examined will come as a bitter blow to Mr Badawi's family and supporters, who had hoped that the international pressure over his case would prompt Saudi Arabia to reduce his sentence.

Although he remains in prison, he has only been flogged once since his sentence was passed, with subsequent punishments being repeatedly postponed.

Source: The Independent, March 1, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Bali 9 executions still some way off, says prison chief

Kerobokan prison, Bali
The head of the supermax prison on "death island" has revealed he does not believe the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and 8 other drug felons will take place soon.

Hendra Eka Putra, the head of Pasir Putih prison on Nusakambangan, said a meeting of police, grave diggers, the coffin maker, spiritual leaders, prison authorities and local government officials would be held on Wednesday in the seaport town of Cilacap.

Information from that meeting would be conveyed to the Attorney-General's office, which would then send officials to visit the Nusakambangan prison compound.

"So in my opinion it still takes sometime for the execution to take place," Mr Hendra said.

"Having said this it is the Attorney-General's office that decides everything. It may be possible that they make a decision on Thursday, we never know. But I don't think it will take place soon."

Meanwhile, 5 of the 10 drug felons facing imminent execution, including Chan and Sukumaran, still have ongoing legal cases before the courts.

Their lawyers argue that under international principles of law, prisoners cannot be killed while they are exercising their legal rights.

But in a portentous tweet on Sunday, the lawyer for Chan and Sukumaran, Dr Todung Mulya Lubis wrote: "We come closer to the end of our legal fight. Execution is coming. Why is it so difficult to forgive?"

A close political ally of the president - Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama - said he believed reformed drug felons should have the death penalty commuted to life imprisonment without remission.

"Let he who lives in prison and becomes a good person guide someone who just enters the prison to be a good person too", he said. "So there is one life that can be used to make another realise his mistakes. This is better than executing him", Mr Basuki said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has expanded on a phone conversation he had with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Prime Minister interpreted his comments as Mr Joko "carefully considering Indonesia's position" on the executions.

However Mr Joko said he merely expressed that he understood Australia's position.

"I don't know what his interpretation of what I said was," he was quoted as saying in newswire detik.com.

"The words may be soft but look at my actions."

The timing of Chan and Sukumaran's transferral from Kerobokan jail in Bali to Nusakambangan is still unknown.

Indonesian authorities have previously said they do not wish Chan and Sukumaran to spend much time on Nusukambangan island because it could unsettle other prisoners.

Those on death row will be given 72 hours notice before their execution - however the men may be transferred to the island long before the notice period begins.

Mr Hendra also said 2 doctors would this week come to the prison to assess Brazilian drug trafficker Rodrigo Gularte, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"He looks healthy physically. He does not disturb people or create problems," Mr Hendra said. "The strange thing however is that he speaks to animals. For instance he talks to a cat as if it were a human. He asked the cat if it was hungry or sick. We try to treat him well. That's why two more doctors will be coming next week to examine his mental health, they are from the police and the Attorney-General's office."

The Attorney-General, H.M. Prasetyo, has previously said there is no regulation preventing the execution of a mentally ill person. "There is only a regulation forbidding the execution of pregnant women and children under 18 years," he said.

Mr Prasetyo has also vowed to proceed with the executions, saying that all 10 drug felons exhausted their legal avenues when the Indonesian president rejected their clemency pleas.

On Sunday his spokesman, Tony Spontana, said all the prisoners were still on the execution list.

He said the Attorney-General would officially announce when the executions would be held and everyone would have to wait until then.

Cilacap priest Father Charles Burrows, who has been visiting Gularte in prison, said a Constitutional Court ruling advised that prisoners could not be executed while they were insane.

"If they just execute someone because of spite that is going to be very negatively assessed by everyone," he said.

Lawyers for Filipino migrant worker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who was sentenced to death for smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Jogjakarta from Malaysia in 2010, have lodged a request for a judicial review into her case. There is a court hearing on Tuesday.

Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui also has a case underway, with his bid for a judicial review to be heard on March 11.

The father of 4 was arrested near Jakarta in 2005 at a laboratory producing ecstasy. He has always denied the charges, saying he was installing machinery in what he thought was an acrylics factory.

And the lawyer for Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami, who was caught smuggling 5.3 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia in 1998, is trying to get the rejection of his clemency plea nullified on the grounds it was not rejected within the time limit.

Meanwhile, Dr Mulya will lodge an appeal in the administrative court by March 10 on behalf of Chan and Sukumaran.

The judicial commission is also investigating allegations that the judges who sentenced the Australians to death offered a lighter sentence in exchange for money.

Dr Mulya said the Attorney-General had repeatedly insisted that the rejection of the clemency pleas was the final step before execution.

However, he said this was a matter of life and death.

"If you execute someone what if there was later found to be a lack of evidence?" he said.

"The executions have to be delayed because of the actions taken by the parties concerned."

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, March 1, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com