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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Death sentence for fatal car explosion suspect in Bahrain

Manama
The court sentenced a second suspect to life in prison for his role in the explosion that shocked the nation

Manama: A court in Bahrain on Monday sentenced to death a defendant accused of planting a bomb that killed a Bahraini woman and injured three children in June last year.

The court sentenced a second suspect to life in prison for his role in the explosion that shocked the nation.

The woman was killed and the children were injured when their car was hit by a bomb blast in East Eker, south of the capital Manama.

“A terrorist act claimed the life of a woman and injured three children who were with her in a car that was hit by shrapnel after a bomb exploded,” the director general of Manama’s police directorate said.

Ahmad Al Hammadi, the head of the anti-terrorism public prosecution, on Monday said that 10 suspects were involved in the case.

The investigation launched immediately after the attack led to the identification of a suspect currently a fugitive in Iran and working for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who tasked the two defendants with carrying out an explosion attack against police patrols.

The two agreed, obtained the explosive device from the fugitive and planted on the road side.

However, they exploded it as a private car was passing by, resulting in the death of the woman and the injuries of the children accompanying her.

The two perpetrators were eventually identified and arrested, Al Hammadi said.

They can challenge the verdict by taking the case to the Court of Appeals and eventually to the Court of Cassation, he added.

Source: Gulf News, June 19, 2017

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Nebraska inmate facing death penalty files motion contesting its constitutionality

Patrick Schroeder
Patrick Schroeder
TECUMSEH, Neb. — A recent change in lethal injection procedure intended to enable Nebraska to carry out executions has been challenged by an inmate facing a potential death sentence.

Concerns over the new drug protocol are among the 11 arguments in a motion filed this week by attorneys for Patrick Schroeder, who seeks to have Nebraska’s death penalty law declared unconstitutional.

Schroeder, who is already serving a life sentence for murder, now faces the death penalty for allegedly choking to death his cellmate, Terry Berry Jr., on April 15 inside a special management unit cell at the Tecumseh State Prison.

He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Johnson County District Court and enter a plea.

Instead, District Judge Vicky Johnson scheduled a July 28 hearing on Schroeder’s motion to overturn the death penalty.

“Our society can no longer kill to show that killing is wrong,” stated the motion to quash, filed by defense attorneys Todd Lancaster and Sarah Newell with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.

Johnson County Attorney Rick Smith, who is prosecuting the case with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, declined to comment.

“We will argue it at the hearing,” he said.

Among issues raised by Schroeder in the 32-page motion:

  • The death penalty in Nebraska is racially discriminatory, considering that only one of the nine men sent to death row since the law was amended in 2002 is white. Five are Hispanic and three are black.
  • The death penalty is applied unevenly based upon geography. Since 2002, all death penalty cases have originated in four of Nebraska’s 93 counties: Douglas, Madison, Scotts Bluff and Hall.
  • Nebraska’s death penalty procedure requires juries to decide the aggravating factors necessary to impose death, but it requires a three-judge panel to weigh the mitigating factors in a defendant’s favor. Such a two-step process that limits the jury’s role is similar to one used in Florida that was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016.
  • Evolving standards of decency in a “mature society” have made the carrying out of executions increasingly rare in the U.S. Just 10 states are responsible for 83 percent of the 1,442 executions since 1976, the motion stated. Last year, the 20 total executions carried out were in five of the 31 states with capital punishment. Nebraska has not executed an inmate since 1997, when the method was the electric chair.
  • The highest courts in the states and the nation have previously banned the execution of juveniles, the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled. They also have prohibited methods once commonly used as cruel and unusual punishment.


“The rejection of the nooses, bullets, gas and electricity signaled not only the discomfort with the method of execution, but with the death penalty itself,” the motion stated.

Though Schroeder has not been convicted of the prison homicide, let alone sentenced, the motion was filed at this early stage to properly preserve the issues for appeal.

The death penalty challenge comes several months after voters reinstated capital punishment. More than 60 percent of those who cast ballots in November voted to reverse the Legislature’s repeal of the death penalty in 2015.

In an effort to create a viable death penalty procedure in the wake of that vote, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services changed the lethal injection protocol earlier this year. That change is under attack by Schroeder.

Under the former protocol, inmates were to be put to death with injections of three substances in a specific order. But obtaining some of the drugs specified in the protocol became increasingly difficult for prison officials.

The new protocol gives the prisons director wide latitude in deciding the types and quantities of drugs to be used. He also may opt to use a single drug, as long as it first causes the inmate to lose consciousness.

Schroeder’s motion argues that the Legislature has unlawfully delegated its lawmaking authority to the prisons director to decide what drugs to use.

The motion also challenges the death penalty statutes for giving too little guidance as to when the penalty should be sought and applied. As a result, individual county attorneys decide who will be put to death in a manner that is “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“The decision to file aggravating circumstances can be affected by the legal experience of the prosecutor, the size and resources of the particular county, any prejudice or bias of the prosecutor, the political ambition of the prosecutor or other political circumstances,” the motion stated.

Source: Omaha World Herald, Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau, June 21, 2017

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U.S.: Why plummeting public support for the death penalty doesn't mean it's going away

Texas' death chamber
Support for the death penalty is at a 4-decade low among the American public, but that may be of little consequence in the struggle over the future of capital punishment. That's because the death penalty is the practice not of the nation, but rather of a handful of states.

The federal government is a minor player in criminal justice, housing just 1 in 8 inmates. The federal government executed 2 prisoners on the same day in 1957, but implemented capital punishment only four times in the 60 years since. It's states that charge and sentence almost all the individuals who commit the crimes that lead to capital sentences (e.g., murder). And, more specifically, it's just 5 of those states that are the true force behind capital punishment, accounting for 90 % of the 122 executions carried out in the past 3 years.

Texas stands out for its particularly outsized role, accounting for over 1/3 of capital punishment. Florida, Georgia and Missouri each account for about 1 in 7 executions, and Oklahoma accounts for about 1 in 12. The other 45 states collectively account for only 10 % of prisoner executions, even though the law in 30 of those states allows capital punishment.

Rather than ask "why does the United States have capital punishment," it makes more sense to ask why these particular 5 states apply it so often. Obviously, all are politically conservative states within or bordering the South. But this is also true of Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, none of which has put a prisoner to death in recent years (indeed, Louisiana came close to abolishing the death penalty in this year's legislative cycle.)

Stanford Law School Professor Robert Weisberg points to state-specific processes and incentives as drivers of the death penalty in a subset of conservative states. Most notably, he says, "Texas has elected judges. It is also located in the prosecutor-friendly 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Although the Supreme Court occasionally slaps down the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and its federal accomplice, the Fifth Circuit, for allowing egregiously unfair capital trials, on the whole those lower courts have been happy to give Texas prosecutors a generously wide berth."

Most states have abandoned the death penalty de jure or de facto. But in the absence of change in the handful of states that combine punitive views on crime with legal processes that facilitate capital punishment, the practice will remain a part of the criminal justice system.

Source: The Washington Post, Opinion, June 21, 2017. Keith Humphreys is a Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and is an affiliated faculty member at Stanford Law School and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

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Alabama Death-Row Inmate Wins High Court Battle Over Mental Health Experts

A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Alabama death-row inmate was denied his constitutional right to an independent mental health expert to help the defense team in his murder trial.

James Edmund McWilliams Jr. challenges his death sentence for robbing, raping and killing convenience store clerk Patricia Reynolds in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1984.

Months before he murdered Reynolds, McWilliams attended couple's therapy with his pregnant wife and underwent psychological testing, which found that he is "extremely disturbed" and "has much internal anxiety."

While three doctors nevertheless concluded he was competent to stand trial, his defense counsel portrayed McWilliams during the penalty phase of his trial as someone who grew up with significant psychological problems. McWilliams and his mother testified that he sustained head injuries as a child and had a history of blacking out and hallucinating.

An expert appointed by the trial judge reported his findings simultaneously to the court, the prosecution and the defense 2 days before McWilliams' sentencing hearing.

The expert diagnosed McWilliams with organic personality syndrome, but defense counsel did not have a chance to discuss the findings with the expert or learn what the diagnosis meant for the purposes of mitigation.

Last year, McWilliams petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, arguing he was "precluded from meaningfully participating in the judicial sentencing hearing and did not receive a fair opportunity to rebut the state's psychiatric experts."

His case is nested inside the high court's 1984 decision in Ake v. Oklahoma, which held that poor criminal defendants using a defense of insanity are entitled to an expert to help support their claim.

McWilliams was charged by Alabama just a month after Ake was decided. His appeals over the years have been unsuccessful, with the 11th Circuit affirming the lower courts' denial of relief.

5 months after agreeing to take up the case, the Supreme Court reversed the 11th Circuit and ruled 5-4 Monday that McWilliams did not receive the assistance he was entitled to under Ake.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that Ake does not require just an examination, but also requires the state to provide the defense access to a competent psychiatrist who will also help in evaluation, preparation and presentation.

"We are willing to assume that Alabama met the examination portion of this requirement by providing for Dr. [John] Goff's examination of McWilliams. But what about the other 3 parts?" Breyer wrote. "The dissent emphasizes that Dr. Goff was never ordered to do any of these things by the trial court. But that is precisely the point. The relevant court order did not ask Dr. Goff or anyone else to provide the defense with help in evaluating, preparing, and presenting its case."

McWilliams' requests for additional assistance under Ake were rejected by the judge in his case, according to the ruling.

"Since Alabama's provision of mental health assistance fell so dramatically short of what Ake requires, we must conclude that the Alabama court decision affirming McWilliams's conviction and sentence was 'contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,'" Breyer said.

The Supreme Court said the 11th Circuit should determine on remand "whether access to the type of meaningful assistance in evaluating, preparing, and presenting the defense that Ake requires could have made a difference" in McWilliams' trial.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonio Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Breyer in the majority.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting opinion, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

Alito said Ake "did not clearly establish that a defendant is entitled to an expert who is a member of the defense team."

"In Ake, we held that a defendant must be provided 'access to a competent psychiatrist' in 2 circumstances: 1st, 'when [the] defendant demonstrates to the trial judge that his sanity at the time of the offense is to be a significant factor at trial,' and, 2nd, at the sentencing phase of a capital trial, 'when the State presents psychiatric evidence of the defendant's future dangerousness,'" Alito wrote.

"The question that we agreed to review concerns the type of expert that must be provided. Did Ake clearly establish that a defendant in the 2 situations just noted must be provided with the services of an expert who functions solely as a dedicated member of the defense team as opposed to a neutral expert who examines the defendant, reports his or her conclusions to the court and the parties, and is available to assist and testify for both sides? Did Ake speak with such clarity that it ruled out 'any possibility for fairminded disagreement'? The answer is 'no.' Ake provides no clear guidance one way or the other."

Source: courthousenews.com, June 21, 2017


Supreme Court ruling in capital case mandates psychiatric assistance for indigent defendants


US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday in favor of a man who has been sentenced to death in Alabama, holding that he had not received "the psychiatric examination and assistance necessary to prepare an effective defense based on his mental condition" as required after the 1985 case Ake v. Oklahoma. James McWilliams was convicted of raping and killing a convenience store clerk in 1984. At trial, the defense counsel repeatedly moved to continue the court proceedings so they could have an "expert" evaluate McWilliams' psychiatric report. The judge denied the requests, telling the defense they could have until 2 p.m. on the day of sentencing to look over the report, which the defense had only acquired 2 days earlier. The judge, taking the position that McWilliams was faking and exaggerating his mental illness, sentenced him to death.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that the precedent set in Ake goes beyond simply examining an indigent defendant, but also requires assistance:

We are willing to assume that Alabama met the examination portion of this requirement by providing for Dr. Goff's examination of McWilliams. But what about the other 3 parts? Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the defense evaluate Goff's report or McWilliams' extensive medical records and translate these data into a legal strategy. Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the defense prepare and present arguments that might, for example, have explained that McWilliams' purported malingering was not necessarily inconsistent with mental illness. Neither Dr. Goff nor any other expert helped the defense prepare direct or cross-examination of any witnesses, or testified at the judicial sentencing hearing himself.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, issued a strongly-worded dissent, claiming the Ake decision was intentionally ambiguous, and that more deference should have been granted to Alabama's Supreme Court ruling.

The death penalty continues to be a point of contention across the US. Earlier this month the Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution granted by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit for Robert Melson, who challenged the use of midazolam in the 3-drug cocktail used in Alabama executions, arguing that it does not properly insensate prisoners to the pain of lethal injection. In May the Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill that would reinstate the death penalty. In April the Texas Department of Criminal Justice sued the Food and Drug Administration for banning a shipment of lethal injection drugs to prison officials. Earlier in April Amnesty International released an annual report revealing the US to not be among the world's top 5 executioners since 2006. However, in March the Mississippi house approved a bill allowing firing squad executions. In March, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new bill which stated that the death penalty may only be imposed by a judge upon unanimous recommendation from the jury. In January Ohio's lethal injection protocol was deemed unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

Source: jurist.org, June 21, 2017

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New Crown Prince must prove this is more than just Saudi spin

Mohammed bin Salman
Mohammed bin Salman is the new crown prince and heir to the Saudi throne.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia has appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and heir to the throne in an attempt to deflect criticism of his increasingly brutal regime.

The new crown prince has repeatedly defended the abuses of his father, including the mass execution of 47 people in January 2016.

The Crown Prince, then Minister of Defence, claimed that all those killed were “terrorists” who were executed following fair trials. In fact, they included people arrested for simply attending a peaceful protest and convicted on the basis of false confessions extracted through torture. Those killed included Ali al-Ribh, who was just 17 at the time of his execution.

There is now great concern about three young pro-democracy protestors who could be executed at any moment on King Salman’s orders. Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher were all juveniles when arrested.

Prince Mohammed record has also come under fire for presiding over the Saudi intervention in Yemen as Defence Minister since 2015.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said: “This is an attempt by an ageing dictator to fool the world into believing he is prepared to change. The reality is Prince Mohammed has stood alongside and publically defended the King as young men have been tortured and executed for peacefully protesting while he has led the internationally condemned intervention in Yemen. Change will only come if the Crown Prince puts an end to the execution of juveniles, otherwise this is little more than routine spin to distract from the gravest human rights abuses.”

Price Mohammed defended the mass executions of 47 people in 2016 in an interview with the Economist.

➤ More about the cases of Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, can be found here.

Source: Reprieve, June 21, 2017

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Virginia: William Morva attorneys ask governor to stop execution

William Charles Morva's attorneys are asking that the convicted murderer's execution - scheduled for July 6 - be halted by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

In a petition filed Tuesday, the Virginia Capital Representation Center says that Morva has mental illness that was never adequately taken into account during his 2008 trial, and that life imprisonment would be a more appropriate punishment for him. The attorneys group also asked that McAuliffe order mental health care for Morva.

"For more than a decade, William Morva has suffered from a serious psychotic disorder similar to schizophrenia," a statement from the attorney group said.

"Mr. Morva has never received treatment for his mental illness, although administration of anti-psychotic medications has proven successful in controlling symptoms of people similarly affected."

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy wrote in an email Tuesday that the governor, who is presently in Europe on a trade mission set to run through June 30, and a team will review the petition.

"We'll make an announcement when that review is complete," Coy wrote.

The attorneys' statement said Morva believes local law enforcement and the administration of former President George Bush conspired to harass and unfairly arrest him, that he had a life-threatening gastrointestinal condition that required him to spend hours on the toilet every day and "adhere to a diet of raw meat, berries, and pinecones."

The statement said Morva felt called "to lead indigenous tribes on an unexplained quest" and that "remote tribes would recognize his leadership status from his facial features."

In 2006, Morva, then a 24-year-old Blacksburg resident, was jailed and awaiting trial on theft-related charges when he complained of falling from his bunk and was taken to what was then called Montgomery Regional Hospital.

There, Morva knocked out a sheriff's deputy who was guarding him, took his gun and killed hospital security officer Derrick McFarland. The next day Morva killed Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Sutphin.

In 2008, Morva was convicted of 3 counts of capital murder, 1 for each victim and a 3rd for killing 2 people in less than 3 years, which is a capital offense in Virginia.

In the appeal to McAuliffe, the attorneys wrote that the jury that recommended the death penalty for Morva was not given accurate information about his mental condition.

Jurors were told Morva had a "schizotypal personality disorder" that included odd beliefs and attitudes but was not treatable, the attorneys' statement read.

But a fuller evaluation conducted later, during Morva's appeals, determined that he had a more serious diagnosis of delusional disorder, a condition that would make him unable to tell reality from delusion, the attorneys wrote.

"I hope that Governor McAuliffe will be able to put himself in William Morva's shoes and feel what it must be like to live in a reality that no one else does and to worry every day that the people who are supposed to care the most about you are conspiring to hurt you," Dawn Davison, one of Morva's attorneys, said in the statement.

Morva's appeals ran for years after his conviction, until the U.S. Supreme Court in February declined to consider his case.

The most recent execution in Virginia was Ricky Javon Gray's in January. He died by lethal injection for the 2006 murders of 2 sisters in Richmond during a rampage that included killing their parents.

In April, McAuliffe commuted Ivan Teleguz's sentence from death to life in prison in a murder-for-hire case. The governor said then that he did not think Teleguz was innocent but acted because the sentencing phase of Teleguz's trial had been unfair, with jurors given false information.

Source: roanoke.com, June 20, 2017

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Georgia: Prosecutors expected to seek death penalty for prison escapees

Inmates Ricky Dubose (left) and Donnie Russell Rowe
Inmates Ricky Dubose (left) and Donnie Russell Rowe

Rick Dubose and Donnie Rowe entered the courtroom in orange prison jump suits, their hands and ankles shackled, flanked by several deputies.

The men appeared before Judge Brenda Trammell. It was their first appearance since being extradited back to Georgia after being captured in Tennessee following a massive three-day man hunt.

Prosecutors said they expect to see the death penalty against the men.

Dubose and Rowe escaped during a prison bus transfer and overpower two corrections officers. They're accused of taking the guns from the officers - Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue - and shooting them to death before making their escape.

A three-day manhunt ended last Thursday in Tennessee.

The duo were extradited and brought back to Georgia this week.

Dubose and Rowe have violent pasts


"I've changed for the best...No more asking me for stuff if you aint changed dont bother asking me for anything im done with my old life true friends will understand."

Ricky Dubose posted those words on Facebook on Sept. 8, 2013.

A year later, Dubose would be sentenced to 20 years in prison with no chance of parole.

Less than four years later, Dubose would the subject of an intense manhunt after authorities said he and another inmate, Donnie Rowe, killed two corrections officers and fled.

Dubose, 24, was serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted in the 2014 armed robbery of an elderly homeless veteran who had said that he thought of Dubose like a grandson.

According to the case summary provided by the U.S. District Attorney's Office, Dubose and another man, Darrell Eugene Montford, were planning to rob a store on Sept. 3, 2014.

The two had cell-phone conversations, which were recorded, where they planned the robbery.

"You got a little mask and [expletive] for you," Dubose is heard saying. "Like something to cover you, put over your face a little bit?"

They met a 67-year-old man at a gas station, purportedly to buy a .45-caliber handgun. As he handed the gun to Montford to examine, he said Montford took out a 9-mm handgun and then demanded his wallet.

As the victim went to hand over his wallet, he said that Montford, unprovoked, shot him in the hand with his own gun. The suspects then ordered the victim to the ground and took his wallet, which contained $120 in cash, a debit card and driver's license.

Montford and Dubose were later arrested. At one point, the district attorney's office said that Dubose was going to testify against Montford but instead "attempted to frustrate justice by preventing the State from convicting Montford." Montford ended up receiving a life sentence after being found guilty.

Dubose pleaded guilty to armed robbery, aggravated assault and theft by taking. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole, and was eligible for release in 2034.

Prior to that, Dubose had previous convictions on credit card fraud, financial identity fraud, theft by taking, burglary, robbery and a single conviction for entering a vehicle.

When he was on the outside of prison, Dubose was reportedly part of the Ghostface Gangsters. Despite the fact that his accomplice in the armed robbery that put him behind bars was black, while in prison, Dubose was said to be associated with several gangs affiliated with white supremacy.

Dubose's mother told our Atlanta station -WXIA-TV - on Wednesday that he had hurt his family enough and urged him to turn himself in.

Donnie Rowe had just finished a prison sentence in Tennessee seven months earlier when a one-night violent crime spree in Georgia landed him in jail for the rest of his life.

In October 2001, he and another man robbed a man at a rest stop on Interstate 75 and then forced his way into a Super 8 motel room in Bibb County.

One of the victims testified Rowe demanded his money and said, "he should kill me for only having $3."

Rowe then fired a single shot from a 32-caliber handgun into the headboard just inches away from where another guest in the room was sitting.

Rowe was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Behind bars


At some point, Rowe and Dubose met behind bars. 

Department of Corrections Assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said 43-year-old Rowe and Dubose have been cell mates more than once, but he wasn't sure whether they were cell mates at Baldwin State Prison just prior to their escape.

Myrick said the two have known each other for "quite a while".

Source: WMAZ-TV, June 21, 2017

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Myanmar: 'Exorcist' who pled guilty to murdering 3 children sentenced to death by hanging

Rangoon, Myanmar
The self-proclaimed 'exorcist' who beat 3 children to death has been handed the death sentence, a court ruled earlier today.

After pleading guilty to the murder charges last November, the perpetrator, Tun Naing, was tried under Sections 302 and 325 for committing grievous harm and murder. 

Today, the Yangon Southern District Court sentenced him to 7 years in jail under Section 325, and to death by hanging under Section 302, Mizzima reports.

Tun Naing was arrested last October for beating 3 children - aged 3 years, 2 years, and 8 months - to death in an attempt to rid their bodies of evil spirits. He also reportedly gave the children's families and other villagers 'blessed' water and put them in a 'trance', and killed the children as they watched. Police reports noted that the bodies showed signs of being kicked, punched, and stamped on.

While the death penalty still exists in Myanmar, it is rarely carried out. The most recent death sentence was handed out in the case of Uruma, the man who was found guilty of leading the October attacks on the Maungdaw border posts. 

According to official records, the last known execution under the death sentence took place in 1988.

In January 2014, then-President Thein Sein commuted all outstanding death sentences to life in prison.

Today, those handed the death penalty can make an appeal to the Chief Justice within a week to commute the verdict to a life sentence. If their appeal is rejected, a similar appeal can be made to the President.

Source: coconuts.co, June 20, 2017

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UAE: Filipina on death row in Al Ain spared

Jennifer Dalquez
Filipina maid has been acquitted from the murder charge, sentenced to 5 years

The Filipina domestic worker sentenced to death in Al Ain for killing her employer has been saved from death row, a Philippine envoy said.

Jennifer Dalquez, 30, a domestic worker, was given the death penalty by the Al Ain Court of First Instance in May 2015 after she was found guilty of killing her employer in December 2014. 

She claimed it was self-defence because her employer tried to rape her.

Philippine Ambassador Constancio Vingno Jr said the hearing for the case of Jennifer Dalquez was held on Monday.

"Ms Dalquez was acquitted for the murder charge. She will not be paying diyyah or blood money. However, she was sentenced for 5 years for theft for stealing the mobile phone of the person who was killed, less the number of years she had spent in jail," Vingno told Gulf News.

Vingno said Dalquez was arrested about a week after the incident on December 7, 2014. This means she has been serving time for 2 1/2 years since.

"We are still waiting for the official report from our lawyer to ascertain the details of the case, but this is definitely good news for her family and the Filipino people."

Dalquez' parents visited her in Al Ain in October 2015 and in March 2017, through the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. 

Source: Gulf News, June 20, 2017

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Bali police in frantic search for Kerobokan escapees

Bali's Kerobokan Prison
Bali's Kerobokan Prison
JAKARTA: Bali police continued a search for four foreign inmates who escaped from a high-security prison on the Indonesian resort island of Bali after digging a 15m-long tunnel under the prison’s walls.

Prison guards and local police officers found the tunnel on Monday. It led to a road outside Kerobokan Prison, which houses more than 1,000 inmates, including many foreigners convicted of crimes including murder and drug offenses.

The fugitives include Shaun Edward Davidson, a 33-year-old Aus­tralian from Perth who made headlines in his homeland when he was sentenced to a year in prison in September after being caught using someone else’s passport.

The other escaped inmates are Dimitar Nikolov Iliev, 43, of Bulgaria; Sayed Mohammed Said, 31, of India; and Tee Kok King, 50, of Malaysia, said Syarpani, a spokesman for the government agency that oversees prisons, reported New York Times.

The prison, which is west of Denpasar, the island’s capital, is only a few kilometres from Bali’s internationally famous beaches and resorts.

Police said the four men used a fork and a bucket to dig the tunnel which was around 50cm by 75cm wide, Daily Mail Australia reported.

It quoted the head of Kerobokan prison, Tony Nainggolan, as saying officials suspect the tunnel took more than a week to build.

Bandung police chief Yudith Satriya Hananta said special police members entered the jail yesterday.

“We want to check the tunnel. Where it goes, how deep it is and find out all things, to anticipate if they may still be trapped there,” he told News Corp Australia from inside Kerobokan prison. There are now calls for security at the overcrowded and understaffed jail to be increased.

Police have questioned 10 jail guards who were on duty at the time of the escape but it is unclear how the men escaped so easily.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, in January 2016 Davidson was due in court in Perth on charges of possession of methamphetamine and cannabis, and two other offenses. When he didn’t attend, an arrest warrant was issued.

Davidson fled the country, arriving at Bali’s international airport from Perth.

Davidson was arrested months later by the Indonesian authorities, who had been looking for him after having received tips that he overstayed his tourist visa and was using false documents, the newspaper reported.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an e-mail reply to questions that it had been “advised by Indonesian authorities of an alleged escape from Kerobokan Prison of several prisoners, including an Australian man,” but it declined to comment further.

Kerobokan has long had a grim reputation for overcrowding, corrupt guards and facilities below international standards.

Among the prison’s most notable foreign inmates in recent years were members of the so-called Bali Nine group of Australians who were arrested in 2005 trying to smuggle 18.5 pounds of heroin out of the resort island. The group’s two ringleaders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were executed by firing squad in 2015.

Source: The Straits Times, June 21, 2017

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

EU Parliament slams Pakistan's human rights, slams capital punishment for blasphemy

The European Parliament has criticised Pakistan's human rights record, and squarely reminded Islamabad that it has grossly erred in handing down capital punishment for those allegedly violating the nation's blasphemy law, in the excessive of military courts and in denying India consular access to former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav on multiple occasions.

European Union Parliament members unanimously endorsed a resolution that criticised the abuse of capital punishment by Pakistan for fulfilling its political aims in trials related to civilians.

Calling for the abolition of the death penalty, the European Parliament members reiterated their strong opposition to the use of the death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances and called on Pakistan to reintroduce a moratorium on executions and commute all death sentences to various terms of imprisonment.

"Death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment and a miscarriage of justice," said one the members of the European Parliament.

Referring specifically to the Jadhav case, wherein he has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April on charges of espionage and sabotage, the EU Parliament deplored the use of military courts for holding hearings in camera and sought an assurance from the Government of Pakistan to reverse the decision to the extent military courts should apply their jurisdiction only on breaches of military discipline, and that too, only those committed by military personnel.

The European Parliament resolution also insisted that authorities in Pakistan should grant access to international observers and human rights organisations for purposes of monitoring the use of military courts and strengthen the civilian judiciary in line with international standards on judicial proceedings.

As India was denied consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan, the resolution underscored that "third country nationals brought to trial, must be allowed access to consular services and protection."

The European Parliament reminded Islamabad of its obligation to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of thought and freedom of expression and other international and regional human rights instruments.

Expressing its grave concern about the recent mass trials leading to a vast number of death sentences, the resolution sought an immediate and definitive end to such practices, which violate international human rights standards.

Stressing about the prevailing situation regarding human rights violation in Pakistan, the resolution said ,"Several minority people have been killed and persecuted because they are not being protected by the government and death penalty are the tools for setting personal vendetta or to suppress minorities."

The European Parliament said that the death penalty is incompatible with values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, on which the Union is founded, and that any member state reintroducing the death penalty would, therefore, be in violation of the Treaties and of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The European Parliament then instructed its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Commission Vice-President, EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Government and Parliament of Pakistan and the Secretary-General of the United Nations for further deliberation and action.

Source: dnaindia.com, June 16, 2017


EU concerned over alarming rate of executions in Pakistan after flawed trials


The European Parliament (EP) has expressed "deep concern" over the "alarming rate of executions" based on "flawed trials" in Pakistan and deplored the use of its military courts that hold secret hearings and have civilian jurisdiction.

Significantly, the EP resolution came today, days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed the death sentence given to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, by a Pakistan army court for alleged "involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan".

India moved the ICJ, describing the charges against Jadhav as "concocted" and his trial as "farcical".

"Parliament is deeply concerned at the alarming rate of executions in Pakistan following flawed trials, including of minors and persons with mental disabilities, some of which are carried out while appeals are still under way," the resolution said.

The European Parliament during its meeting in Brussels also called on Pakistan to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty, with the ultimate goal of full abolition.

"The EP deplores the use in Pakistan of military courts that hold hearing in secret and have civilian jurisdiction; insists that the Pakistani authorities grant access to international observers and human rights organisations for purposes of monitoring the use of military courts," the resolution said.

It also called for an "immediate and transparent transition to independent civilian courts in line with international standards on judicial proceedings; underscores that third-country nationals brought to trial must be allowed access to consular services and protection".

The EP resolution also mentioned Jadhav's case and said he was convicted by a military court in April 2017 and sentenced to death and the case was currently before the ICJ on the grounds that he was denied consular access rights.

It also noted that Pakistan entered the "Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)", which provides it with benefits from generous tariff preferences, and it should provide a strong incentive to respect core human and labour rights, the environment and good governance principles.

The resolution also made it clear that the GSP status was "conditional and the effective implementation of international conventions is an essential requirement under the scheme."

Source: dnaindia.com, June 16, 2017

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California: On Death Row, but Is He Innocent?

One June day in 1983, a California professor drove over to a neighbor's house to pick up his 11-year-old son from a sleepover. Nobody answered the door, so the professor peered through a window - and saw a ghastly panorama of blood.

The professor found his son stabbed to death, along with the bodies of Peggy and Doug Ryen, the homeowners. The Ryens' 10-year-old daughter was also dead, with 46 wounds, but their 8-year-old son was still breathing.

This quadruple murder began a travesty that is still unfolding and underscores just how broken the American justice system is. A man named Kevin Cooper is on San Quentin's death row awaiting execution for the murders, even though a federal judge says he probably is innocent.

"He is on death row because the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department framed him," the judge, William A. Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, declared in a searing 2013 critique delivered in a distinguished lecture series.

Fletcher was in the minority in 2009 when his court refused to rehear the case. His dissent, over 100 pages long, points to Cooper's possible innocence and to systematic police misconduct. It's a modern equivalent of Emile Zola's "J'accuse."

At least 10 other federal judges have also expressed concerns about Cooper's conviction. Many other eminent legal experts, including the then-president of the American Bar Association, have also called on Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene.

The evidence of police tampering is overwhelming. When lawyers working on Cooper's appeal asked for DNA testing on a T-shirt believed to belong to the killer, the lab found Cooper's blood on the shirt - but also something astonishing: The blood had test tube preservative in it! In other words, it appeared to have come from the supply of Cooper's blood drawn by the police and kept in a test tube.

Kevin Cooper was sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison after his conviction for a quadruple murder. Judges and others question the reliability of the evidence.

When the test tube was later examined, it had the DNA of at least 2 people in it. It appeared that someone had removed some of Cooper's blood and then topped off the test tube with the blood of one or more other people to hide the deception.

What's extraordinary about the case is that not only is it likely that Cooper is innocent, but that we also have a good idea who committed the murders.

The 10-year-old victim, Jessica Ryen, died with a clump of light hair in her hands, and the 8-year-old survivor, her brother, Joshua, repeatedly told investigators that the attackers had been three or four white men. Mr. Cooper is black.

Meanwhile, a woman told the police (and her statements were later backed up by her sister) that a housemate, a convicted murderer, had shown up with others late on the night of the murders in blood-spattered overalls and driving a station wagon resembling one stolen from the Ryens' home. The women said the housemate was no longer wearing the T-shirt he had on earlier in the evening - the same kind as found near the murders.

A hatchet like one of the murder weapons was missing from the man's tool chest, and a friend of his confessed to a fellow prisoner that he had participated in the killings. The women gave the bloody overalls to the police - who threw them out, apparently because they didn't fit their narrative that Cooper was the killer.

There was no reliable evidence against Cooper. But he had escaped from a minimum-security prison (he walked away) where he was serving a burglary sentence and had holed up in an empty house near the Ryens' home. A court suggested that he had killed the Ryens to steal their station wagon - although it is thought to have been parked in front of the house with the keys in it. And when the car was found, it appeared that 3 people with bloody clothing had sat in it.

One fundamental factor in this case is Cooper's race, and this case is a microcosm of racial injustice in the United States. The police seemed predisposed to believe the worst of a black man; Cooper was subjected to racist taunts as his case unfolded; and Democratic and Republican politicians alike have shown themselves inclined to avert their eyes, even if this leaves an innocent man on death row.

As governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to act. Kamala Harris, who was state attorney general and is now a U.S. senator, was unhelpful. Governor Brown is reviewing the case, but previously as attorney general exhibited little interest.

Cooper and his lawyers are not asking for a pardon right now, or even for a commutation to life imprisonment. They're simply asking Governor Brown to order a review of the case with new DNA testing (critical testing has never been done) to indicate whether Cooper is likely guilty or innocent. They will even pay for the testing, because they believe it will both exonerate Cooper and implicate the real killers.

"We're not saying let Kevin out of jail now, we're not saying pardon him," noted one of his pro bono lawyers, Norman Hile. "We're saying, let's find out if he's innocent."

This case is a national embarrassment. It appears that an innocent man was railroaded, in part because he is black, and the government won't even allow crucial DNA testing.

Governor Brown, will you act?

Source: The New York Times, Opinion, Nicholas Kristof, June 19, 2017

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