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One Year Later, Execution Spree Lays Bare Federal Death Penalty’s Systemic Failures

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At 3:00 a.m. Central time on July 14, 2020, after his notice of execution had expired, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) strapped Daniel Lewis Lee to an execution gurney in the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. With the execution chamber curtains closed, correctional officials left him there for four hours while federal prosecutors filed pleadings in a federal appeals court to lift a stay of execution they had forgotten was still in effect. When the stay was lifted at 6:36 a.m., without notifying Lee’s counsel, the BOP commenced the execution, injecting him with a fatal dose of the drug pentobarbital. He was pronounced dead at 7:07 a.m. Central time. When Lee’s lawyer, Ruth Friedman , learned he had been executed, she released a statement to the media. “It is shameful that the government saw fit to carry out this execution during a pandemic,” she wrote. “It is shameful that the government saw fit to carry out this execution when counsel for Danny Lee could not be pr

Nevada | Bid to block death penalty drug plan draws 2nd inmate

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A 2nd condemned inmate is asking a federal judge in Las Vegas to add him to legal challenges being made to the never-before-used method that Nevada prison officials want to employ for their 1st lethal injection in 15 years. Attorneys for Zane Michael Floyd said at a hearing Friday they want to add Joseph Weldon Smith to their effort to prove the state’s plan to administer drugs never before tried in any lethal injection in any state would be unconstitutionally cruel and painful. "It would be a venture into the unknown," Assistant Federal Public Defender David Anthony said. Separately, Robert Dunham, head of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, termed the state plan "human experimentation." “Nevada’s drug combination is likely to result in a torturous execution,” Dunham said in an email. “Because it is untested — and cannot ethically be tested — we don’t know how it will work and if it will work properly.” U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II did not ma

Texas Court Holds Innocence Hearing for Rodney Reed, as Advocates Rally in Support

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Lawyers for Texas death-row prisoner Rodney Reed presented four days of testimony in a Bastrop County courthouse in an attempt to establish his innocence of the murder of Stacy Stites, as activists, religious leaders, and members of Reed’s family rallied in support of his case. The hearing, which is expected to take two weeks, began on July 19, 2021, with Reed’s case for innocence. His lawyers presented evidence that Reed, who is Black, was having an affair with Stites, who is white; that Stites was actually murdered by her abusive fiancé, Jimmy Fennell; and that Fennell, who at that time was a police officer in Giddings, Texas, had framed Reed for the murder. Numerous witnesses testified that testified that they had seen Stites together with Reed on prior occasions, heard Fennell threaten to kill her if she cheated on him, and heard Fennell admit to the killing. Two forensics experts testified that Stites died hours earlier than the prosecution had claimed, at a time that Fennell had

Sierra Leone abolishes the death penalty

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Sierra Leone's president said he would sign the abolition of capital punishment, fulfilling a personal campaign pledge. Some 99 people in the country are currently sitting on death row. Lawmakers in Sierra Leone voted on Friday to abolish the death penalty, becoming the latest African country to ban the practice. Sierra Leone's 1991 constitution had allowed the use of the death penalty for aggravated robbery, murder, treason and mutiny. After Friday's vote, capital punishment will now be replaced with life imprisonment or a minimum 30-year jail term. The move to end the death penalty will affect some 99 people who were sitting on death row as of June 2021. 'An affront to civilized society' Although no execution has been carried out in Sierra Leone since 1998, with death sentences often commuted, the country had frequently come under fire from rights groups for not completely abolishing the practice. "Today, I have fulfilled a governance pledge to permanently ab

Afghan interpreter for US Army was beheaded by Taliban. Others fear they will be hunted down too.

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Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Sohail Pardis was driving from his home in Afghanistan's capital Kabul to nearby Khost province to pick up his sister for the upcoming Eid holiday celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan. It was supposed to be a happy occasion enjoyed with family. But during the five-hour trip on May 12, as Pardis, 32, drove through a stretch of desert, his vehicle was blocked at a checkpoint by Taliban militants. Just days before, Pardis had confided to his friend that he was receiving death threats from the Taliban, who had discovered he had worked as a translator for the United States Army for 16 months during the 20-year-long conflict. "They were telling him you are a spy for the Americans, you are the eyes of the Americans and you are infidel, and we will kill you and your family," his friend and co-worker Abdulhaq Ayoubi told CNN. As he approached the checkpoint, Pardis put his foot on the accelerator to speed through. He was not seen alive again. Village

Iran | At least 14 prisoners executed in just two weeks in Isfahan Prison

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From July 10 to 21, at least 14 inmates were executed in Isfahan Prison on drug-related charges. On Monday, July 19, 2021, the death sentence was carried out for Hossein Sadeghi on drug-related charges. Hossein Sadeghi was from Zahedan, capital of Sistan and Baluchestan Province. He had been arrested 5 years ago for drug trafficking and sentenced to death by the Judiciary. On Tuesday, July 13, three inmates were hanged in the central Prison of Isfahan by the names of Mohammad Farrokhi, Ra’ouf Rezaii-far, and Hashem Bavarmand. The latter two were sentenced to death for carrying 150 kilograms of drugs and arms. Ra’ouf Rezaii-far, 42, was married with a young child. At least 85 men have been executed since March 21, 2021. This is while many death verdicts are carried out secretly, and their news hardly leak out. The actual number of executions is higher. Since July 10, 2021, the names of 14 prisoners have been certified who have been executed on drug-related charges. Some reports say the

6 Month Report on the Death Penalty in Iran: 38 Executions in Month Following Elections

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In the first 6 months of 2021, at least 117 people were executed in Iranian prisons. There has been a rise in the number of executions since the June presidential election, with at least 38 people executed in one month (18 June-18 July). Iran Human Rights’ statistics department has registered and confirmed 117 executions in the first half of 2021. Of those executed, 6 were women and 111 were men. 123 executions were registered for the same period last year. Of the 117 executions, only 28 were announced by domestic media or officials and the other 89 were carried out secretly. 63 of the 117 were executed on murder charges, 40 on drug-related offences, 6 on rape charges and eight on security charges. Of the 8 people executed on security charges, 6 had been charged with moharebeh (enmity against God) and 2 with baghy (armed rebellion). Executions for drug-related offences have increased by sixfold compared to the same period in 2020 when seven people were executed compared to 40 this year

Ohio Supreme Court overturns death penalty conviction of George Brinkman for murder of North Royalton women

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Brinkman will remain on death row for the murder of a Stark County couple. COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has overturned the death penalty conviction of a man who pleaded guilty to killing three North Royalton women.  The court in a 7-0 decision on Wednesday said a three-judge panel in Cleveland failed to tell 49-year-old George Brinkman of Plain Township about his right to question witnesses during a plea hearing in November 2018.  The same panel sentenced him to death the following month.  Brinkman will remain on death row despite Wednesday's ruling. He was also sentenced to die in 2019 after pleading guilty to the 2017 deaths of 71-year-old Rogell "Gene" John and 64-year-old Roberta "Bobbi" John at their Lake Township home, where he was house-sitting. They were killed less than a day after the women in North Royalton, 42-year-old Suzanne Taylor, and her daughters, 21-year-old Taylor Pifer and 18-year-old Kylie Pifer were killed.  In addition to the d

Georgia | Men accused in Arbery's death to get jury selection hearing

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A judge is expected to delve into the jury selection process at a hearing Thursday for the upcoming murder trial of three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was chased and shot after he was spotted running in a Georgia neighborhood. Judge Timothy Walmsley scheduled a pre-trial conference with attorneys at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick. The agenda also includes scheduling for the trial, which is set to begin on Oct. 18. Attorneys for two of the defendants — Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael — have moved to keep media outlets out of the courtroom when lawyers question potential jurors to determine whether they have biases in the widely publicized case. They said it was critical that potential jurors feel as comfortable as possible answering questions about race and other sensitive topics to ensure their clients are tried by an impartial jury. Media outlets including The Associated Press have pushed back on that request. They have argu

Norway marks ten years since Breivik massacre

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In Norway, on Wednesday, July 21, commemorative events are held to remember the events ten years ago, when killer Anders Breivik took the life of 77 people, French news agency AFP and news portal France 24 report. ➤  Utoya  |  Find related content here On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, detonated a fertiliser bomb outside a government building in Oslo, killing eight persons. Then he took a ferry to the island of Utoya, located in a lake northwest of the capital owned and run by the youth league of Norway’s Labour Party, and dressed in a self-made police uniform tracked and gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers and injured 110 more.  Police finally arrived and arrested him. ➤  Anders Breivik  |  Find related content here Subsequently, the killer was handed the maximum sentence – 21 years in prison, which can be extended indefinitely, AFP and France 24 report. Norway’s July 22, 2011, terror attack: a timeline STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — A timeline of the events of July 2011, when Anders Be