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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Vietnam president orders review of farmer's death sentence

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Public anger over harsh sentences in land dispute case persuades state to reconsider evidence
Activists have welcomed the Vietnamese president's order to review the case of farmers given severe sentences including the death penalty for murder over a land dispute.
The President's Office announced on July 17 that President Tran Dai Quang had asked the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuracy and the Ministry of Public Security to "review processes of investigations, prosecution and trial of the murder case and report to the president," Vietnam News Agency reported.
On July 12, the High-level People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City upheld the death penalty given to Dang Van Hien, a farmer found guilty of murder amid a land row between farmers and a private company.
Hien was convicted of shooting to death 3 men and injuring 13 others from the Long Son Trade and Investment Company.
The court had earlier reduced the sentences of farmers Ninh Viet Binh and …

Ex-Aum member Yoshihiro Inoue’s last words: ‘I didn’t expect things to turn out this way’

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A former senior member of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult that perpetrated the deadly Tokyo subway sarin attack in 1995 said just moments before his execution last week that he did not foresee such an ending, but remained calm and thanked his parents, an informed source said Friday.
“I didn’t expect things to turn out this way,” Yoshihiro Inoue was quoted as saying shortly before being executed on July 6 along with cult founder Shoko Asahara and five other senior members.
Inoue, 48, was one of Asahara’s closest aides and acted as a general coordinator of the group, which used the nerve agent to attack the subway system in March 1995, killing 13 people and injuring over 6,000. He was sentenced to death in 2004 by the Tokyo High Court and filed an appear for a retrial in March.
Asked by an Osaka detention center officer if he had any messages for his parents, Inoue said, “Thank you, dad and mom. Please don’t worry,” according to the source.
His very last words can be roughly translated…

Japan: Death penalty sought for man over 2014 deaths of 2 people who were buried alive in Saga

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Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded the death penalty for a man who allegedly murdered a man and a woman by burying them alive in the city of Saga in 2014 in an attempt to avoid paying back a debt.
Teruyoshi Oho, 69, is alleged to have suffocated Ra Si Chan, a 76-year-old South Korean national, and his associate Chie Matsushiro, 48, by burying them in their car in a hole 5 meters deep, according to the indictment. Oho's defense team reiterated that he is innocent of the charges.
Oho, a former president of a soil treatment company, had been urged by Chan to pay back some Y40 million ($356,000) he had borrowed from him, the prosecutors said in their closing argument at the Saga District Court.
"It was a well-planned crime based on a strong intention to kill him," the prosecutors said, pointing to the fact that Oho had asked his employees to dig the hole before the alleged murders in August 2014. There is no special circumstance that should allow him to avoid capital punishmen…

India: HC upholds death sentence to Rohtak girl who killed 7 of her family

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On the night of September 14, 2009, Sonam mixed some sedative in the dinner ('rotis') and milk of her family members and strangled them with rope with the help of Navin after they fell unconscious.
Terming them "monsters", a Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of a teenage girl and her boyfriend, who killed 7 members of her family at Kabpulpur village in Rohtak in September 2009.
The convicts are Sonam Dagar, now 27, and Navin Dagar, 28, both hailing from the same village.
Sonam and Navin who belonged to the same clan were having an affair. They were studying at Rohtak town and started liking each other. When Sonam's parents got to know of their affair, they asked her to discontinue studies and restricted her to home.
Apprehending that her family will not accept their relationship, the duo eliminated Sonam's parents (Surender, 45, and Promila, 40), brother Arvind, 15, grandmother Bhuro Devi, 70, and 3 cousins Vishal, 10, Sonika…

Ohio executes Robert Van Hook

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Convicted killer Robert Van Hook executed at Lucasville prison
Convicted of the horrific murder of a Cincinnati man, Robert Van Hook died by lethal injection on Wednesday in Ohio's 1st execution in more than 10 months.
The 58-year-old Van Hook was pronounced dead at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at 10:44 a.m. after being strapped to the gurney in the death chamber and administered the lethal dose of drugs.
He served a violence-plagued 32 years in prison after a death-penalty conviction for what now could be considered a hate crime - of the utmost violence.
On Feb. 18, 1985, Van Hook met David Self in a gay bar in downtown Cincinnati and went home with him. Van Hook's clemency report says he lured Self into a vulnerable position and strangled him into unconsciousness.
"He then took a paring knife from the kitchen and stabbed the victim behind the right ear, aiming the thrust upward toward the brain, accompanied by a blade-twisting movement," the report said.

Thailand: Court upholds death sentence for 2015 rape and murder of teenager

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The Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a primary court ruling sentencing to death a 36-year-old former village headman for murdering an 18-year-old schoolgirl during a rape attempt in Kalasin's Kamalasai district in 2015.
The ruling also included an order for Ban Si Than former village headman Krittidech Rawengwan to pay the family of slain Rong Kham School student Ruadeewan "Nong Snow" Polprasit Bt2.39 million in compensation.
The court found Krittidech guilty of killing Ruadeewan while trying to rape her.
His claim of innocence was denied as evidence, including a human bite mark found on his finger and another wound on a testicle, had been put before the court.
Ruadeewan's parents Krit and Lamyai Polprasit and relatives held the slain girl's photograph as they gathered outside the Kalasin Provincial Court yesterday morning prior to the verdict reading.
Lamyai became tearful and said the tiredness she had felt for over 900 days after the loss of her beloved daug…

Farmer's death sentence sparks public outcry in Vietnam

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Lawyer says president must grant amnesty or expect more unrest as man acted in self-defense amid illegal, violent land grab
Activists and religious followers have asked the Vietnamese government to respect private property ownership after several farmers received severe sentences including the death penalty.
On July 12, the High-level People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City upheld the death penalty on Dang Van Hien, a farmer who was found guilty of murder amid land disputes between farmers and a private company.
Hien was convicted of shooting to death 3 men and injuring 13 others from the Long Son Trade and Investment Company.
The higher court reduced the sentences of 2 other farmers - Ninh Viet Binh and Ha Van Truong - from 20 years to 18 years and from 12 years to 9 years respectively.
The state-run Tuoitre newspaper reported that at court the 3 defendants from Dak Nong province's Tuy Duc district pleaded guilty to murder but said they were driven to the brink by the company'…

World Medical Association condemns complicity of doctors in Iranian executions

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The complicity of state-affiliated doctors in Iran in facilitating the execution of young prisoners in the country has been condemned by the World Medical Association.
This follows the execution last month of 19-year-old Abolfazl Chezani Sharahi who was sentenced to death in 2014. The WMA says his sentence was issued based on an official medical opinion by the Legal Medicine Organisation in Iran, stating that he was mentally "mature" at the age of 14 when the crime of which he was convicted took place.
In a letter jointly addressed to the Office of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei, to President Hassan Rouhani and to the Head of the judiciary Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the WMA President Dr Yoshitake Yokokura and WMA Chair Dr Ardis Hoven say this involvement of physicians is in direct violation of international law and their duties as physicians, and is both unethical and illegal.
The WMA leaders write: "Further, physicians have a clear duty to avoid …