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Showing posts from January, 2008

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Iran: two convicted of rape and murder publicly hanged

January 28, 2008: two men convicted of raping and murdering nine women were hanged in public in the central Iranian city of Arak, the Fars news agency reported.

State television showed Abutaleb Mohammadi-Nasab and Yazdan Karimi hanging from cranes in front of hundreds of onlookers after the pair were found guilty of raping, robbing and murdering the women in 2001 and 2002.

Source : Agence France Presse, 28/01/2008

Incendie du Reichstag: peine de mort nazie annulée contre l'incendiaire présumé

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La justice allemande a annulé jeudi 10 janvier 2008 la peine de mort prononcée en 1933 contre le communiste néerlandais Marinus van der Lubbe, accusé d'avoir allumé l'incendie du Reichstag, qui a servi de prétexte à Hitler pour établir sa dictature.
L'annulation de la sentence par le parquet général allemand, près de 75 ans après cet événement clé de l'entre-deux-guerres et 74 ans jour pour jour après son exécution, repose sur une loi de 1998, qui vise à annuler les jugements iniques prononcés sous le régime national-socialiste.

Le verdict contre van der Lubbe reposait sur des «prescriptions injustes spécifiquement national-socialistes», a relevé le parquet.

Van der Lubbe a été condamné le 23 décembre 1933 à la peine capitale pour «haute trahison» et pour avoir mis le feu au parlement allemand.

Il a été exécuté le 10 janvier 1934.

Plusieurs thèses se sont affrontées sur cet incendie du 28 février 1933, qui a permis au régime nazi, peu après la désignation d'Adolf …

Iran: Firing squad executes man who raped 17 children

January 26, 2008: An Iranian firing squad executed a man who raped 17 children, the Fars news agency reported, in a rare use of this method of capital punishment which is usually carried out by hanging.

The man, identified as Reza Sharifi, was executed in the central city of Mobarakeh in Isfahan province for raping the children aged between seven and 11, the report said.

He preyed upon elementary school pupils by deceiving them and saying he would take them home. Then he would take his victims into nearby gardens and rape them before leaving them on the streets.

Sources: AFP, 26/01/2008

Puerto Rico launches campaign against the death penalty

January 23, 2008: Puerto Rico's justice secretary said that his department will do "everything in his power" so that the US federal government will not institute the death penalty on the island, or impose it on Puerto Ricans in the mainland United States.

Accompanied by representatives of the Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Roberto Sanchez Ramos announced the implementation of a series of measured recommended by that organisation to dissuade the federal justice system from using the death penalty in this US commonwealth.

Puerto Rico prohibits the use of the death penalty in its 1952 constitution as a Free Associated State, but the island's courts are subordinate, in the final analysis, to the federal courts. Sanchez Ramos said that the most important of the measures announced will be the one referring to cases of carjacking as a crime that could be punishable by death. In these cases, the federal prosecutors request that the state not try the accus…

Death Sentence for Afghan Student

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan court in northern Afghanistan sentenced a journalism student to death for blasphemy for distributing an article from the Internet that was considered an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, the judge in charge of the court said Wednesday.

The student, Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, 23, who also works for a local newspaper, was charged with insulting Muhammad by calling the prophet “a killer and adulterer,” the judge, Shamsurahman Muhmand, said in a telephone interview.

The sentence was denounced as unfair by Mr. Kambakhsh’s family and journalists’ organizations. Mr. Kambakhsh’s brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, denied that his sibling had committed blasphemy, and said that his brother was not given enough time to prepare his defense and was denied a lawyer.

Mr. Kambakhsh has the right of appeal to the regional court and the Supreme Court.

He is being punished for articles written by his brother, said Jean Mackenzie, director of the Institute for Peace and War Reporting in …

Saudi Arabia: three Burmese immigrants beheaded

January 23, 2008: Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded three Burmese immigrants convicted of armed robbery, the Interior Ministry said.

The three were convicted of breaking into a house and terrorizing the wife of its owner. According the ministry, two of the men gagged the woman and bound her hands and feet together, then threatened her with a knife and stole jewellery and money.

The third man, who was related to the woman, assisted their entry, it said.

The men were beheaded in Mecca, west of Riyadh.

Source: PR-Inside.com, 23/01/2008

Saudi Arabia: two Saudis, Yemeni beheaded

January 22, 2008: Two Saudis convicted of murder and a Yemeni found guilty of drug trafficking were beheaded by the sword in Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry announced.

It said Hassan al-Muhaissen and Abderrazak al-Quetaifi had attacked fellow Saudi Mohammed al-Saleh with an axe and robbed him of his money, leaving their victim in agony to bleed to death.

Their execution was carried out in Al-Ihsa, in the east of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, it said in statements carried by the state news agency SPA.

It said Mansur Jrad, a resident from Yemen, was executed in the southern province of Jizan which borders Yemen for smuggling hashish, although the amount was not specified.

Source: AFP, 22/01/2008

Death sentence for Afghan reporter

A student journalist sentenced to death in northern Afghanistan for allegedly blaspheming Islam may actually be paying the price for investigative pieces that his brother wrote, an international media group said Wednesday.

Those articles exposed human rights abuses by political and paramilitary factions in northern Afghanistan, said the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

"(The brother) feels very strongly that it's a campaign of intimidation against him and others like him who might want to take on these powerful commanders," Jean Mackenzie, country director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, told CNN.

The international organization trains journalists Afghanistan and other conflict zones.

A lower court in Mazar-e-Sharif on Tuesday sentenced Sayed Perwiz Kaambaksh, 23, to death Tuesday, after it tried him behind closed doors and without representation, MacKenzie said.

Prosecutors accused Kaambaksh of anti-Islam propaganda, contending that the third-year jour…

California Plans New Death Row Costing $356 Million

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has earmarked $136 million in additional funds to build a new death row at San Quentin State Prison.

In 2003, the California State Legislature had authorized $220 million for the same project, but the plans were put aside when cost estimates increased. The current estimate is $356 million to complete the construction of the 768 new cells needed to reduce San Quentin's significant overcrowding.

California already has the largest death row in the country, with approximately 660 inmates. In 30 years, the state has carried out 13 executions.

Many members of the legislature oppose spending such a large amount of money on death row facilities. Assemblyman Jared Huffman said he was "extremely disappointed" by the budget allocation, especially given that Gov. Schwarzenegger has also proposed budget cuts to social programs.

Steve Kinsey, Supervisor of Marin County, California, also noted, "At a time when the governor's budget is…

Saudi Arabia: two men beheaded

January 20, 2008: Saudi Arabia beheaded by the sword two men convicted of drug smuggling, the interior ministry announced.

Abdul Rahman Rashid and Qashaan al-Sabiee were executed in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom's Eastern Province for "trafficking large amounts of drugs", it said in a statement carried by the state SPA news agency.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 21/01/2008

Member of Missouri Execution Team Had Criminal Past; Also Participated in Federal Executions

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently revealed that a Missouri man who was entrusted with state and federal executions had a criminal past. The man, a licensed nurse who was called to Indiana in 2001 to assist in the federal execution of Timothy McVeigh, first needed permission from his probation officer before leaving the state.

In 1998, the Missouri executioner was charged with felony aggravated stalking and first-degree tampering with property of a man who was having a relationship with the executioner's estranged wife. He pleaded no contest, was convicted of misdemeanor stalking and tampering with property, and was placed on probation. Memos obtained by the Post-Dispatch showed that state and federal officials knew of the executioner’s conviction and probation status, and they still wanted to use him.

At least one supervisor in the Missouri Division of Probation and Parole was alarmed by the federal request of a man who was on probation to aid in an execution. She wrote, "As…

Saudi Arabia: Three beheaded for murder, rape

January 16, 2008: Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded three people for murder and rape, the Interior Ministry announced. The ministry said Nashaat Ben Suleiman Ben Ahmedhaji and his wife Iman Bent Ali Ghazawi were beheaded after being convicted of killing Ahmedhaji's daughter from a first marriage, according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. The statement said the couple tortured and burned 9 year old Ghosson Ahmedhaji because her father had suspicions that she wasn't his legitimate daughter.

Adel al-Hathrami was beheaded after being convicted of raping a teenage boy. The ministry did not give further details.

The latest beheadings brought to seven the number of executions announced in Saudi Arabia this year.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the death penalty in the ultra-conservative Gulf country, where executions are usually carried out in public.

Source: PR-Inside.com, 16/01/2008

Iran: four Ahwazi activists executed

January 14, 2008: four Ahwazi activists were executed in secret last week by the Iranian authorities, the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation reported.

The Iranian regime executed the following four political activists in Karoon prison in Ahwaz City: Ahmad Marmazi, Abdolhussein Harabii, Hussein Asakereh, and Mehdi Haidari. They were all Arab (Ahwazi) residents of Ma'sur (Mahshar), and were all married with children.

Four more men are slated for execution, possibly next week. They are all members of Iran's ethnic Arab minority in Khuzestan (al-Ahwaz) province.

Source: AHRO, 14/01/2008

Saudi Arabia: two men beheaded

January 15, 2008: Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded a foreign resident convicted of killing his mother, the Interior Ministry announced.

The ministry said Misahri al-Enizi killed his mother by stabbing her with a knife in the northern town of Arara, according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The agency did not disclose al-Enizi's nationality or that of his mother.

Al-Enizi is the third person to be executed this year in the desert kingdom, according to an Associated Press count.

January 14, 2008: a Saudi man convicted of murder was beheaded by the sword in the northern city of Hail. Abdullah bin Mashari was executed for shooting dead Mansour al Kharir following an argument caused by "family differences", the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 14/01/2008 and Ap, 15/01/2008.

Iran: Kurd hanged on stretcher

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January 12, 2008: the Kurdish magazine Asu has published the photo of the execution in Iran of a Kurd with Turkish citizenship, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reported.
Hekmat Damir was hanged on December 20, 2007 in the Khoi jail while still on the stretcher that was used to transport him from the prison hospital to his execution.
He was believed to be a member of the Kurdish group, PJAK, the Iranian branch of the Kurdish militant group PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party).
Damir was arrested two months ago, after he was found almost frozen to death by a platoon of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

He was accused of terrorism and of being a member of an armed group.

His trial proceeded in the absence of a lawyer and he was condemned to death by hanging.
The photo showed the blood stains on Damir's shirt and it is believed that he was tortured before being executed.
Source: NCRI, 12/01/2008

Somalia: convicted soldier executed

January 13, 2008: Somalia's interim government executed a soldier convicted of killing a civilian.

Shukri Hussein Mohamed was killed by firing squad in the national capital Mogadishu, with hundreds of witnesses and senior military commanders present.

Col. Mohamed Osman Dinih, commander of Somalia's navy, told reporters that the soldier was executed after being convicted of intentionally killing an innocent woman last year. He was charged with murder and sentenced by a military court, according to Col. Dinih.

"This is a clear warning to other soldiers who commit crimes against civilians," he said.

Source: Garowe Online, 13/01/2008

Death Row Scot arrives home

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) -- A Scotsman who came within an hour of being executed in Ohio returned to Edinburgh on Wednesday after his release from more than 20 years on death row.

Ken Richey, who walked free under a plea deal Monday, appeared bewildered as he edged toward media microphones in the airport's arrival hall.

"It feels great," said Richey, who was 18 when he was last in Scotland. "I am glad to be back. I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years."

As part of a plea deal, Richey, 43, agreed to leave the United States as soon as possible because prosecutors were worried about threats against him, his family and attorney said.

But his flight from Chicago to London was canceled Tuesday because of bad weather. He arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday night via Frankfurt, Germany.

Richey pleaded no contest to attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangering, and breaking and entering related to a 1986 fire that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collin…

Japan: record number of death sentences in 2007

January 13, 2008: The number of people sentenced to death in Japanese courts in 2007 rose to 46, the highest in nearly three decades, local media reported.

There were at least 106 death-row inmates in 2007, a record high since 1980 when such data first became available, Kyodo News agency reported. The number of death sentences ordered by Japanese courts last year rose to 46 from 44 in 2006.

Nine executions were carried out in 2007, the most in a year since 1980, Kyodo said.

Source: Kyodo News, 13/01/2008)

Iran: three executed for drug trafficking

January 9, 2008: Iran regime hanged three for drug trafficking in Birjand, capital of South Khorasan province bordering Afghanistan, state-run Fars News Agency reported.

"The death sentence for these (three) people was issued…and was carried out," the report quoted the Iran mullahs' judiciary official. The report did not identify the three.

Sources: NCRI, Ansa, 09/01/2008

Saudi Arabia: convicted murderer beheaded

January 8, 2008: Saudi Arabia beheaded a convicted murderer, the interior ministry said, the first such execution of 2008.

The ministry statement said Saleh bin Ali bin Abdallah bin Hassan Bani Hamim had shot dead Jaber bin Mubarak al-Oujan Bani Hamim after a dispute. He was executed by the sword in the southeast Najran region, said the statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

Source: AFP, 08/01/2008

North Korea: "labour hero" executed for setting up private farm

January 4, 2008: A co-operative farm chief once honoured by North Korea's founding president as a labour hero has been publicly executed for “starting a private farm”.

The episode was reported by the South Korean humanitarian group, Good Friends. The unidentified man and two colleagues were shot by firing squad on December 5 in Pyongsong, north of Pyongyang.

According to the group the condemned were executed by 90 bullets and that now their families have been interned in a concentration camp. They are guilty of having privately sold products in order to maintain their “luxurious” lifestyle.

The association reports that the president of the co-op had been honoured as a labour hero.

Then president Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, had several times praised the farm chief and once gave him a watch engraved with his autograph. The farm chief was accused of failing to register 79 hectares of farmland that had been cultivated over the past decade. He allegedly fed retired soldiers with th…

Iran: Two hanged for murder

January 8, 2008: Iran hanged two men convicted of murder in the northern city of Tonkabon, Jomhouri Eslami reported.

Mohammad Reza Sadeghirad was found guilty of murdering Shahram Shoja in July 2006 and Ali Kord-Roudgarmi was convicted of stabbing to death Hossein Mohaghegh in 2005.

Source: Afp, 10/01/2008

Supreme Court to Review Unusual Death Sentence in Louisiana

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Jan. 4 to review the case of a man in Louisiana who was sentenced to death for a crime in which the victim, a child, did not die. Of the approximately 3,350 people on death row in the U.S., only two inmates received the death penalty for a non-homicide crime.

Patrick Kennedy was convicted and sentenced to death in 2004 for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter. He is challenging his sentence as a violation of the Eighth Amendment based on the rarity of a death sentence for this crime. Richard Davis is also on Louisiana's death row for a similar crime. No one in the U.S. has been executed for a crime other than murder since 1964.

The Court last considered a related case in 1977 when it prohibited capital punishment for the rape of an adult in Coker v. Georgia. While the case did not specifically address the rape of children under the age of 12, “the decision has been widely understood as limiting the death penalty to the crime of murder,” according …

U.S. elections: The Candidates on the Death Penalty

Hillary Clinton : Clinton has been a longtime advocate of the death penalty. Clinton cosponsored the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 which became law in 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act . The bill provides funding for post-conviction DNA testing and establishes a DNA testing process for individuals sentenced to the death penalty under federal law. As first lady, she lobbied for President Clinton's crime bill, which expanded the list of crimes subject to the federal death penalty.

Barack Obama : Obama says the death penalty "does little to deter crime" but he supports it for cases in which "the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage." While a state senator, Obama pushed for reform of the Illinois capital punishment system and authored a bill to mandate the videotaping of interrogations and confessions.

John Edwards : Edwards supports the death penalty, saying some crimes "deserve the ultimate penalty." He was a suppo…

SUDAN HANGS TWO FOR RAPE AND MURDER OF FOUR YEAR OLD

January 1, 2008: two Sudanese men sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a four year old girl were executed in a prison in Khartoum, the local press reported.

Motassem Abdallah Khairallah, 21, and Imad Tibn, 19, were hanged and their bodies handed over to their families amid tight security, the daily Al-Sudani reported.

The execution had been due to take place on November 27 but was postponed at the last minute after an appeal by defence laywers who said the two accused had not been given a fair trial. The appeal was dimissed.

The two were sentenced to death and to 100 lashes each on January 21, 2007, for raping and murdering Muram Awad Sadiq in a case that caused outrage because it also took place during the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr in October 2006.

Sources: Agence France Presse, 01/01/2008

China to expand use of lethal injections for death sentences

The use of lethal injection will be expanded in China to replace execution by shooting, a senior legal official said in an interview with a government-owned Chinese newspaper.

The practice of lethal injections will be expanded to cover all the country's intermediate people's courts because it was considered "more humane", Jiang Xingchang, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court told the English-language newspaper China Daily.

Currently around half of all the people's courts carry out executions by lethal injection, Xingchang told the paper.

Although it does not release official statistics of its executions, China is believed to execute more people than any other country, according to human rights groups.

Based on available public reports, Amnesty International estimated that in 2006 China executed at least 1,010 people -- around 60 percent of all executions across the world.

However, the group said that credible sources had put the figure at much higher -- be…

Mayo Clinic Proceedings provides forum for debate about capital punishment

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- In a commentary and two editorials published in the September 2007 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, three anesthesiologists and a medical ethicist discussed whether doctors should participate in capital punishment executions. Since that issue was published, discussions about physician involvement in capital punishment have made their way into the state and federal court systems. And the North Carolina Medical Board has published a statement threatening to discipline physicians who actively participate in executions.

On Jan. 7, 2008, the U. S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments as to whether execution by lethal injection, as currently conducted, constitutes a form of cruel and unusual punishment. These new developments, as well as the earlier Proceedings articles, prompted a number of readers to write Proceedings editors and offer additional perspectives on this provocative topic. This lively discussion among physicians, ethicists and others appears in the J…

This Is Going to Hurt

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WHEN the Supreme Court last week [published November 4, 2007] granted a stay of execution for a murderer in Mississippi, it imposed a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the United States. With prosecutors in Texas and other states now saying they will stop seeking execution dates, that moratorium is likely to last at least until the court issues a ruling on another death penalty case, Baze v. Rees, probably in June.

Some foes of capital punishment are celebrating this as a sign of a shift in the national debate. They’re mistaken.

Yes, in one sense, Baze v. Rees is a departure. For the first time since 1878, when the Supreme Court gave its approval to Utah’s firing squad, it will rule on the constitutionality of a particular method of capital punishment. But the court won’t rule on whether lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment, and it certainly won’t decide if the death penalty itself is unconstitutional. Instead, it plans at most a minor tuneup, a bit of tinkering…