A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof

“What are you?” a member of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston asked at the trial of the white man who killed eight of her fellow black parishioners and their pastor. “What kind of subhuman miscreant could commit such evil?... What happened to you, Dylann?”
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spent months in South Carolina searching for an answer to those questions—speaking with Roof’s mother, father, friends, former teachers, and victims’ family members, all in an effort to unlock what went into creating one of the coldest killers of our time.
Sitting beside the church, drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, he thought he had to go in and shoot them.
They were a small prayer group—a rising-star preacher, an elderly minister, eight women, one young man, and a little girl. But to him, they were a problem. He believed that, as black Americans, they were raping “our women and are taking over our country.” So he took out his Glock handgun and calmly, while their eyes were closed in prayer, ope…

Manila: Human rights body wants review of all cases of suspects killed in drug ops

The Commission on Human Rights on Monday called for a review of all cases where drug suspects ended up dead for supposedly resisting arrest.
“We now call for a solid investigation, no whitewashing of this as much as we are also calling for a review of every single case of ‘nanlaban,'” CHR Commissioner Chito Gascon told ABS-CBN News.
Nanlaban is the Filipino word for “fight back.”
The call comes amid public outrage at the death of 11th grader Kian Delos Santos, who was killed Wednesday in an alleged shootout with law enforcers during the bloodiest week of the government’s anti-narcotics drive.
According to ABS-CBN police data shows that a total of 3,451 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to July 26, 2017. Police have maintained that the suspects resisted arrest and that operatives only exercised self-defense.
The self-defense argument could only be invoked when a case is brought before the court, not in the preliminary investigation, Gascon sa…

Trial of Stockholm academic facing death penalty in Iran begins

The trial of a Stockholm academic who is detained in Iran on what Amnesty International calls 'extremely vague grounds' and could face the death penalty is set to get under way.
Researcher Ahmadreza Djalali has been detained since last April. He was arrested in Tehran for espionage and 'enmity with God' – a crime which in Iran can result in the death penalty – during a visit for a conference last year.
An Iranian citizen, the academic has a permanent residence permit in Sweden, where he conducted research in disaster medicine at the prestigious Karolinska Institute, and lived with his wife and two children. He previously worked at the University of Eastern piedmont in Italy, and the Italian government expressed "extreme concern" for his safety in February.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the authorities to release Djalali or give him a fair and secure trial.
“We hope he will be released. He has been in prison since April last year on…

Indonesia: Woman convicted of blasphemy sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars

Siti Aisyah, the owner of an Islamic learning center, has been sentenced to two years and six months in prison for spreading "misguided" Islamic teachings.
Siti was found guilty of violating Article 156 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on blasphemy.
The sentence handed down by the Mataram District Court in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is lighter than the prosecutor's demand of three years’ imprisonment.
Presiding judge Didiek Jatmiko said Siti had been proven guilty of spreading teachings that contravened Islamic principles, reported.
Didiek said Siti did not admit her fault, insisting that what she taught did not go against the principles of Islam.
Siti, who is the owner Rumah Mengenal Al-Quran (Home to learn Quran), had reportedly taught her followers that the Quran did not oblige Muslims to pray. 
She also reportedly rejected Al-Hadist (Prophet Muhammad's words and attitudes) as a religious guideline.
Source:Jakarta Post, August 21, 2017

Indonesian housewife sen…

Midwest Innocence Project asks Missouri governor to halt Tuesday's execution

A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday's scheduled execution on hold.
The Midwest Innocence Project says new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn't kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.
Williams' attorney, Kent Gipson, asked the state Supreme Court last week to consider two new tests, which he said show that Williams' DNA was not on the knife used in Gayle's death. The court denied the request for a stay of execution.
Midwest Innocence Project Director Tricia Bushnell told St. Louis Public Radio on Sunday that the organization wants Greitens to appoint a board of inquiry to look into the new evidence.
"This is a case that has so many questions in it, and the reality is, Mr. Williams has DNA evidence that says it is not him on the murder weapon, and no one has even let him have a hearing on those results," she said. "It seems i…

Johnson & Johnson unit speaks out at planned death row drug use

Group says it does not condone use of its drugs in lethal injection as Florida eyes move
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest healthcare company, has hit out at plans by the US state of Florida to execute a prisoner on death row using an experimental lethal injection containing a drug it invented.
Janssen, a division of J&J, discovered etomidate in the 1960s but no longer makes the off-patent medicine, which is manufactured by several drugmakers.
“We do not condone the use of our medicines in lethal injections for capital punishment,” Janssen said in a statement.
It added: “Janssen discovers and develops medical innovations to save and enhance lives. We do not support the use of our medicines for indications that have not been approved by regulatory authorities, such as the US [Food and Drug Administration].”
It is the first time that a drug connected to J&J has been used in a lethal injection and, as such, the company has not spoken out on the topic before.
Florida has …

Court to rule Tuesday on Koh Tao murder appeal

Koh Samui Court is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to accept the appeal request against the death sentence handed down to the two Myanmar nationals convicted of murdering two British backpackers in Koh Tao in September 2014.
Amporn Sungthong, a lawyer for the two Myanmar nationals, submitted a 319-page document to the court, before the deadline Monday.
The court was too busy to make a decision on Monday and told the lawyer to return Tuesday for a decision.
If the court does not accept the appeal, it is expected the defendants may cite new reasons and request another counter-appeal to have the ruling reconsidered.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 22, were sentenced to death in December 2015 for the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and the murder of David Miller, 24, on the resort island on Sept 15, 2014.
In March, the Appeal Court for Region 8 upheld the death sentence for the two.
The defence team, led by Nakhon Chomphuchat, believes police interrogations conducted on the…

Fla. gov. removes anti-death penalty prosecutor from cop killing case

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A suspect in the fatal shooting of two police officers in Florida will be staying in jail after a judge denied him bond Sunday, saying there was probable cause for his first-degree murder charge
Everett Miller wore handcuffs and shackles during a first-appearance hearing that lasted a minute and a half. When it was over, he said, "Thank you, your honor."
Miller, 45, also is facing charges of resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon. Other charges likely will be filed.
Sgt. Sam Howard of the Kissimmee Police Department died Saturday afternoon at a hospital where he had been taken following Friday night's attack in Kissimmee, Florida, located south of the theme park hub of Orlando. Officer Matthew Baxter died Friday night.
Meanwhile, detectives said they were looking for a person of interest as they proceed in their investigation.
Detectives emphasized that Maribel Gonzales King is not a suspect, but they said she was known to frequent the neighb…

Florida set to conduct its first execution in a year and a half

Ahead of a planned resumption of executions in Florida on 24 August, 18 months after the last one, Amnesty International is issuing a paper on recent developments relating to the death penalty in the US state.
Death in Florida” outlines the state’s response to the January 2016 US Supreme Court decision that Florida’s capital sentencing law was unconstitutional, and the governor’s reaction to a prosecutor’s subsequent decision to reject the death penalty.
When State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced that she would not seek the death penalty due to its demonstrable flaws, Governor Scott immediately responded by ordering her replacement with a different prosecutor more willing to engage in this lethal pursuit. 
So far the Governor has transferred 26 cases to his preferred prosecutor.
Racial discrimination was one of the death penalty’s flaws – along with its costs, risks and failure as a deterrent – cited by State Attorney Ayala, the first African American to be elected to that position …

California mass killer spared death penalty over prosecutor misconduct

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man convicted of the worst mass killing in Orange County history was spared the death penalty on Friday after a judge found that serious misconduct by prosecutors had violated his rights to a fair trial.
The ruling means that, barring a successful appeal, former tugboat worker Scott Dekraai, 47, will be sentenced to life in prison for killing eight people in a 2011 shooting rampage at a Seal Beach hair salon.
"If this case had been prosecuted from the outset by the Orange County District Attorney within the most fundamental parameters of prosecutorial propriety, this defendant would likely be living alongside other convicted killers on California's Death Row," Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals wrote in a 19-page ruling.
Dekraai pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in May 2014, making him eligible for the death penalty, but the judge took the case away from Orange County prosecutors the following year over accusati…