Showing posts from August, 2008


U.S. | Execution by nitrogen hypoxia doesn’t seem headed for widespread adoption as bills fall short and nitrogen producers object

The day after Alabama carried out the first-known US execution using nitrogen gas, its attorney general sent a clear message to death penalty states that might want to follow suit: “Alabama has done it, and now so can you.” Indeed, in the weeks immediately following the January execution of Kenneth Smith, it appeared a handful of states were listening, introducing bills that would adopt the method known as nitrogen hypoxia or a similar one. Officials behind each framed the legislation as an alternative method that could help resume executions where they had long been stalled.

Iran: Shabnam Parastesh hanged

On 27 August, Shabnam Parastesh was hanged in Tehran’s Evin Prison for the murder of her husband Mojtaba Amirpour. Shabnam Parastesh was sentenced to death in 2006 by a criminal court in Tehran for the murder of Mojtaba Amirpour. She had been detained for the past two years in Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, a city west of Tehran. Her death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court and her execution was scheduled for 12 August 2008 but was not carried out at the time. Source: Amnesty International

Sarah Palin on the death penalty

Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's pick for the next Dick Cheney (to borrow a phrase from Joe Biden), is "pro-life" but not opposed to capital punishment. According to several web sites, she said in November, 2006: "If [Alaska's]legislature passed death penalty law, I would sign it." Source: Abolish! newsgroup Who is Sarah Palin? In selecting Palin, McCain counters the historic nature of Barack Obama’s candidacy. She’s young — 44, three years younger than Obama — and she’s a woman, the first to land a spot on the ticket of a major political party since Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro 24 years ago. Disheartened Clinton supporters who were thinking about crossing over to vote for McCain may now have one more reason to do so. Voters on the right will like Palin’s conservative credentials: She’s opposed to both abortion rights and gay marriage, supports increased domestic drilling for oil, is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association and has a

Iran: five hanged

August 27, 2008: Four men and one woman were hanged in a Tehran jail for murder, with two others given a reprieve. The five were hanged in Tehran's Evin prison, the state newspaper Iran reported. It said one of those executed had killed a five-year-old boy while robbing his home. The woman was executed for killing her husband after discovering he wanted to marry another woman. Two others due to be executed were reprieved. One has a stay of execution after killing a woman he was to marry and her lover. He has two months to seek forgiveness from the family, who can accept so-called 'blood money' for sparing him. Sources: Reuters, 28/08/2008

Electric chair attraction banned in Paris fun park

One attraction at a fun park in Paris (left) has been banned today by French authorities and later dismantled and put away by its owner. Visitors to la Fête à Neu-Neu in the outskirts of Paris could admire an authentic, working electric chair imported straight from the United States. What's more, the park would periodically "execute" a puppet for guests' entertainment -- and they could watch as the mannequin flopped around and screamed as the voltage coursed through his body. At the end, the dummy's head would slump forward, smoke drifting up from the hood over his head. The electric chair belongs to Stéphane Camors, 40, who bought it for $10,000 in Florida. He first had it on display at a fun park near Milan in Italy and was charging visitors €1.65 to watch the dummy die. The park manager told La Repubblica in July that 50 executions were performed daily, with 150 taking place on Sunday. Protests against the macabre act, though, shut down the electric cha

Saudi Arabia: two Pakistanis executed

August 21, 2008: Saudi Arabia executed two Pakistanis convicted of smuggling heroin into the kingdom, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. Shirzada Sahib Zada was convicted of smuggling heroin into the kingdom while Yusuf Khan Noor Muhammad was found guilty of taking delivery and selling the drugs. The two were beheaded by the sword in Dammam, in eastern Saudi Arabia. Sources: RTT News, 21/08/2008

Iran: new execution

August 23, 2008: the Iranian governement hanged a man convicted of murder in the northeastern town of Bojnourd, a press report said. The man, only identified as Ali, was executed in a prison in North Khorasan province for killing his friend in 2005, the reformist Etemad newspaper said. Sources: 7 Days, 24/08/2008

Iran: man hanged after 19 years on death row

August 25, 2008: Iran hanged a man convicted of raping and murdering a relative in the northwestern city of Tabriz. The man, only identified as Bahram, was hanged in a prison for raping and killing his sister-in-law 19 years ago, the Etemad newspaper said, without specifying when the execution took place. Source: Agence France Presse, 25/08/2008

Iran: juvenile offender hanged

On 26 August, Behnam Zare’ was hanged in Adelabad prison, in the south-western city of Shiraz. Neither his parents nor his lawyer were notified prior to his execution being implemented, as required under Iranian law. Behnam Zare’ was convicted of a murder that took place on 21 April 2005. During an argument with a man named Mehrdad he swung a knife, wounding Mehrdad in the neck. Mehrdad later died in hospital. At the time of the murder Behnam Zare’ was 15 years old. Behnam Zare’ was detained on 13 November 2005; Branch 5 of Fars Criminal Court sentenced him to qesas (retribution) for premeditated murder. The case went to appeal before the Supreme Court where the sentence was upheld. The verdict was then passed to the Office for Implementation of Sentences. On 5 February 2008, the order for the implementation of his sentence was approved by Ayatollah Shahroudi, the Head of the Judiciary. On or around 11 February 2008, the Head of the Judiciary ordered a second attempt to negotiate p

Pakistan: two hanged

August 12, 2008: two condemned prisoners were hanged in Sahiwal jail in Pakistan for killing two people, including a constable in Chichawatni two years ago. Their bodies were handed over to their families for burial. Source: Pakistan Press International, 13/08/2008

Iran: business as usual

The public relations unit of the Sistan-Baluchestan Province judiciary department in Iran announced that the Zahedan Islamic Revolution Court issued a ruling on the execution of Bahram Nikpur. He was charged with carrying and possessing 14 kg of opium and 6 kg of heroin. The execution was carried out in Zahedan prison after approval by officials of the top judiciary department. (Sources: BBC, 20/08/2008) Four unidentified people were hanged for rape and drug trafficking in an unspecified prison in Iran. (Sources: Agence France Presse, 20/08/2008) August 14, 2008: a man was hanged in Zahedan, Iran, on charges of adultery. According to the public relations unit of the main judiciary department of Sistan-Baluchestan Province, the suspect Hasan Sadeqpur was sentenced to death by hanging on charges of adultery following a sentence handed down by the provincial penal court. This sentence was carried out in the courtyard of the central Zahedan prison after it was upheld by supreme judiciary b

Obama and the Death Penalty

What a difference a general election makes. Hours after the Supreme Court handed down a ruling banning the death penalty for the rape of a child, Democratic candidate Barack Obama found his inner Scalia and declared it a miscarriage of justice. "I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes," he told reporters at a press conference in Chicago. This is true. Despite the assumptions of some of his admirers, for at least as long as he has held political ambitions, Barack Obama has positioned himself as a supporter of state-sanctioned murder. There's no question the sexual assault of a child is a monstrous thing, the kind of utterly indefensible crime that can test the resolve of anyone who opposes the death penalty on moral grounds. Indeed, it is the sort of offense death penalty supporters reach for in arguing for the "ultimate sanction." For a political candidate, it'

Iranian Execution Revives Debate Over Minors

TEHRAN — Iran has executed a 20-year-old man who was sentenced to death for a murder he committed when he was 15, reviving an international debate over its punishment of minors. The man, Reza Hejazi, was hanged Tuesday in a prison in the central city of Isfahan for stabbing a man in a fight in 2003, according to the daily newspaper Etemad. Four others, including two drug smugglers in Tehran and a rapist and a drug smuggler in Isfahan, were also hanged on Tuesday, Iranian news agencies reported. That brings the number of executions in Iran to more than 190 this year, according to Amnesty International. Last year, Iran executed 317 people, more than any other country except China, the organization says. Human rights groups condemned Mr. Hejazi’s execution, arguing that he was a minor at the time of the murder and therefore fit the category of a juvenile offender. Iran is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Righ

No fatal mistakes

As a lawyer and former U.S. attorney, I have both prosecuted and defended death penalty cases. As a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and as a U.S. senator, I have studied and dealt with this issue for more than 40 years. While I have never been philosophically opposed to the death penalty, and have supported it in special cases, I now have deep concerns about the failures in our criminal justice system in capital cases. The Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment - which is holding public hearings in Annapolis and must submit a final report in December - can play a vital role in educating the public and the General Assembly that our present failure to provide competent lawyers for the accused who can't afford one will likely lead to the execution of innocent defendants. The fact that Maryland pays less than any state other than Mississippi for such representation underscores the seriousness of this problem. The commission needs to address two key issues: First, what is t

Joe Biden on Capital Punishment

Biden is credited for authoring several significant pieces of legislation in the area of federal law enforcement, including The Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994, widely known as the Biden Law, which: - Banned the manufacture of 19 specific semiautomatic "assault weapons" - Allocated more money to build prisons & set up bootcamps for delinquent minors - Designated 50 new federal offenses, including gang membership, and created several new federal death penalty offenses, including murders related to drug dealing, drive-by shooting murders, civil rights-related murders, murders of federal law enforcement officers, and death caused by acts of terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. The law was passed shortly before the Oklahoma City bombing, and its provisions were applied to execute Timothy McVeigh. The legislation received bipartisan support, but was reviled by death penalty opponents and civil libertarians. Some believe it broke ground fo

Arizonans must seek truth about executions

Without transparency in government, those in power fall prey to corruption and incompetence. This fact is epitomized by the Arizona Department of Corrections' decision to hire Dr. Alan Doerhoff the only doctor ever to be banned by a federal court from participating in executions to administer the state's lethal injections. Thanks to recent investigative news reports, Arizonans know why the department wanted to keep Doerhoff's involvement in executions secret. Doerhoff is dyslexic and has testified that he sometimes confuses dosages during lethal injections. He has been barred from practicing medicine in 2 Missouri hospitals and has been sued for malpractice more than 20 times. Doerhoff was ultimately banned from participating in Missouri executions once these facts were made public. If Doerhoff wasn't good enough for Missouri, why would he be good enough for Arizona? For decades, the department has carried out virtually every aspect of lethal- injection executions out

Judge delays execution of condemned Texas inmate

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A federal judge delayed the planned execution of an inmate Thursday pending an evaluation to determine if the inmate is able to understand why he is to be put to death. Jeffery Wood was to have been executed Thursday evening for taking part in the 1996 robbery of a convenience store in which a clerk was fatally shot. But U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio granted a request by Wood's attorneys to delay his execution so they could hire a mental health expert to pursue their arguments that he is incompetent to be executed. Texas courts had previously refused similar appeals. Wood's "motion presents non-frivolous arguments suggesting (he) currently lacks a rational understanding of the connection between his role in his offense and the punishment imposed upon him," Garcia wrote in his order. While Garcia wrote that the evidence was far from compelling, there were enough facts to conclude Wood had made a "substantial threshold showin

Missouri: The quality of mercy

Late Wednesday afternoon the Missouri Supreme Court postponed for at least 30 days the state's plans to administer the death penalty for the first time in almost three years. It was the correct decision. We say that not only because this editorial page long has opposed capital punishment in all circumstances, believing that it has no place in a civilized society. And in this particular case, the arguments against the ultimate punishment are particularly strong. Dennis J. Skillicorn, 49, was to have been executed at 12:01 a.m. next Wednesday even though he did not kill Richard Drummond, the crime for which he was convicted in Lafayette County in 1996. Skillicorn was half a mile away when his buddy, Allen Nicklasson, shot Mr. Drummond, 47, of Excelsior Springs. The jury knew that when it convicted Skillicorn as an accessory to capital murder. But the prosecutor in the case had painted Skillicorn as the ringleader among the three men convicted in Mr. Drummond's death. The

Federal judge delays execution of condemned inmate

A federal judge has granted a request to delay the execution of condemned inmate Jeffery Wood. Jeffery Wood had been set to be executed Thursday for taking part in a fatal 1996 convenience store robbery in the Texas Hill Country. But a federal judge on Thursday granted a request by Wood's attorneys to delay his execution so they could hire a mental health expert to pursue their arguments that he is incompetent to be executed. Wood would have been the 9th condemned prisoner put to death this year and the fifth this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment state. Source: Associated Press

Iran: juvenile offender hanged

Reza Hejazi was hanged in Esfahan prison on 19 August. His lawyer was not informed that his execution was to be carried out, though under Iranian law a 48-hour notification period is required. On 18 August Reza Hejazi’s family were notified that he had been transferred to a cell for those to be executed within 24 hours, and they informed his lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie. On 19 August 2008, the lawyer reached Esfahan prison at 4.30am, and attempted to find out when the execution was to be carried out. Prison guards informed him that executions normally took place between 7 and 8am. After attempting for several hours to secure a stay of execution, at around 10am Mohammad Mostafaie was told by the officer supervising executions that Reza Hejazi’s execution had been halted. He set off back to his office in the capital, Tehran, a five-hour journey away. While he was traveling, he was informed that Reza Hejazi had been hanged at 11am. Reza Hejazi – then aged 15 - was among a group of people in

Death date nears for accomplice in Hill Country murder

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday rejected a clemency request for condemned inmate Jeffery Wood, moving him a step closer to execution set for later this week. The board voted 7-0 to not recommend Gov. Rick Perry commute Wood's death sentence. Wood is set to die Thursday for the 1996 death of Kriss Keeran, a clerk at a convenience store in Kerrville. Wood's lawyers don't dispute he deserves punishment but argue he doesn't deserve to die for a murder that occurred while he was waiting in a car outside the store. Daniel Reneau, the gunman, already has been executed. Wood, whose 35th birthday was Tuesday, was convicted under the Texas law of parties, which makes accomplices as liable as the actual killer in capital murder cases. "We're just very disappointed," said Scott Sullivan, one of Wood's lawyers. Wood would be the ninth condemned prisoner put to death this year and the 5th this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment st


August 7, 2008: an octogenarian man was shot dead in public on the orders of a local jirga that found him 'guilty' of kidnapping a girl in the Kala Dhaka tribal area in Pakistan, sources said. Ramoos Khan, 80, allegedly kidnapped the daughter of Adil Mohammad two weeks earlier and reportedly sold her in the Allai area of Batagram district. The girl's family approached the Tilli Sydain jerga, when the accused returned to the area. The jerga found the elderly man "guilty" of kidnapping and selling the girl and ordered the execution. Zargul Khan, a former member of provincial assembly from Kala Dhaka said that the accused, Ramoos Khan, was shot dead in the presence of locals on the orders of the jerga after he "confessed" to having committed the crime. Source: BBC, 08/08/2008


August 12, 2008: two condemned prisoners were hanged in Sahiwal jail in Pakistan for killing two people, including a constable in Chichawatni two years ago. Their bodies were handed over to their families for burial. Source: Pakistan Press International, 13/08/2008


August 12, 2008: Vehari Jail officials in Pakistan hanged a man for murder, the first execution since the establishment of the jail. Prisons Department officials reported that Munir Ahmed killed Zakkaullah with the help of an accomplice, Ahmed Zargar, and buried the victim’s body in Ahmed’s courtyard. The culprit was presented in the Vehari Additional District Court Session Judge Javed Iqbal awarded him capital punishment in 2001. All attempts regarding settlements with the victim’s family failed. The man was executed in the presence of Vehari Jail Superintendent Muhammad Qadeer Alam, Jail Doctor Muhammad Javed Khalid and Magistrate Civil Judge Chuadhary Nasir Mehmood. Several other jail officials were also present at the execution. Tara Maseeh’s cousin, Sadiq Meseeh, hanged Ahmed till death. Source: Daily Times, 13/08/2008

Iran: man hanged for adultery

August 14, 2008: a man was hanged in Zahedan, Iran, on charges of adultery. According to the public relations unit of the main judiciary department of Sistan-Baluchestan Province, the suspect Hasan Sadeqpur was sentenced to death by hanging on charges of adultery following a sentence handed down by the provincial penal court. This sentence was carried out in the courtyard of the central Zahedan prison after it was upheld by supreme judiciary bodies and the provincial pardon commission opposed the pardoning of this person. Source: BBC, 14/08/2008

Save Jeff Wood!

Dear Friends, The Abolition Movement is asking you, begging you, to do something TODA Y to save the life of Jeff Wood. His wife, Kristin, just met with the Texas Board of Pardons and we need to get phone calls and letters to them today, as they will make a decision tomorrow. Jeff is innocent and did not kill anyone. You can get information at . Like Kenneth Foster, Jeff was convicted under the Texas Law of Parties. We saved Kenneth from the death machine last August, now we must save Jeff. This family needs each of us to help. THANKS! Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Phone (512) 406-5852 Fax (512) 467-0945

Iran: Behnoud Shojaee again in imminent danger of execution

Behnoud Shojaee is again in imminent danger of execution: his family was unable to afford the diyeh, or financial compensation, required to obtain a pardon. His execution, which was due to take place on or around 12 August has been postponed until the end of August 2008. Behnoud Shojaee was sentenced to qesas (retribution) by Branch 74 of the Criminal Court in Tehran on 2 October 2006, after he was found guilty of killing a boy named Omid the previous year, when he was 17. Behnoud Shojaee had no legal representation at his trial. He was twice granted a stay of execution by the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, to allow time for further negotiations over diyeh between his and Omid’s families. However, although the Omid’s family agreed to reduce the diyeh they demanded, from US$2,085,000 to US$625,000, this is still more than Behnoud Shojaee’s family can afford. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 35 juvenile offenders, eight of them in

Iran: execution of juvenile offender

Juvenile offender Amir Amrollahi’s death sentence received final approval from the Head of the Judiciary earlier this month, and judicial officials in Shiraz province have been asked to prepare to carry out his execution. He was sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 16 years old. The murder took place in November 2006 during a fight with another boy, who was fatally stabbed. According to his lawyer, who took up his case this year, Amir Amrollahi ran off in a panic after stabbing the boy, who he thought was about to attack him. Medical help did not arrive for half an hour, by which time it was too late. Amir Amrollahi told his father what had happened, the same day, and later presented himself to the police. His family could not afford adequate legal representation at his trial. According to his new lawyer, the court did not hear that the killing had been unintentional, or that he was prescribed heavy doses of sedatives while in prison awaiting trial. His mental state at

First Texas Seven member executed

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) – Condemned inmate Michael Rodriguez, convicted of taking part in killing a Dallas-area police officer nearly eight years ago while a member of the infamous "Texas 7" gang of escaped fugitives, was executed Thursday. Rodriguez, who had dropped all appeals and volunteered for lethal injection, apologized profusely. "My punishment is nothing compared to the pain and suffering I've brought you," Rodriguez said. "I'm not strong enough to ask for forgiveness. I ask the Lord to forgive. I've done horrible things that brought sorrow and pain to these wonderful people," he said, looking directly at the widow of the slain police officer and his former sister-in-law. "I'm sorry, so sorry," he said. As the drugs took effect, Rodriguez, 45, was praying in a whisper. "I'm ready to go, Lord," he said. Outside the prison, several dozen police officers stood at attention while the execution was carried out, th

Lethal Injection: A Brief History

Published June 25, 2008 The state of Virginia is scheduled to execute Robert Yarbrough on Wednesday for the 1997 murder of elderly shopkeeper Cyril Hugh Hamby. Yarbrough would be the 100th person put to death in Virginia since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 and the eighth in the country to die by lethal injection since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that Kentucky's method of execution using a cocktail of three deadly drugs did not, in fact, constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment as petitioners alleged. The ruling — effectively allowed executions by lethal injection to recommence after a seven-month unofficial moratorium. But the legal wrangling over lethal injection is hardly over. On June 10, an Ohio judge ordered his state to do away with its lethal injection drug combination in favor of a single large dose of barbiturates, a method commonly used to euthanize animals. The ruling is likely to prompt another nationwide re

Jose Medellin execution

California bill bans unsupported jailhouse testimony

California lawmakers have voted to ban use of uncorroborated testimony from jailhouse informants that is used to convict criminal defendants. The state Assembly on Tuesday approved a bill by Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, that would prohibit use of the unsupported testimony. The Senate passed the measure in May. Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said jailhouse informants frequently have an incentive to lie. He said Romero's bill would help prevent wrongful convictions. But Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, said the bill would make it difficult to prosecute crimes committed in jails and prisons. He said jurors should be the ones to judge the validity of an informant's testimony. The 80-member Assembly passed the bill with a bare majority, 41-37. Source: Associated Press

"Texas 7" fugitive volunteering to die Thursday

Condemned prisoner Michael Rodriguez sees his execution as a chance to make amends for some very bad decisions. His first bad decision led to the murder of his wife. The second made him a key partner in one of Texas' most notorious prison breaks and ultimately cost the life of a Dallas-area police officer gunned down by the gang of fugitives who became known as the "Texas 7." "Sadly, a lot of people got hurt," Rodriguez, who for two years has been pushing for his own lethal injection that's set for Thursday, told The Associated Press from outside death row. "I think it's a fair sentence. I need to pay back. I can't pay back monetarily. This is the way." Rodriguez, 45, would be the first of the six surviving members of the infamous "Texas 7" 7 convicts who broke out of a South Texas prison in December 2000 to be executed. The gang was captured in Colorado after six weeks on the run. One of them, Larry Harper, killed himself rathe

Indonesia: executions resuming at fast pace

Rio Alek Bulo was executed by firing squad on Friday 8 August. He was convicted in 2001 of murdering four people and whilst awaiting execution was convicted of killing a fellow inmate. His request for clemency was rejected by the President in 2004, and the Indonesian Supreme Court turned down his final appeal for a case review in April this year. The three others mentioned in the Urgent Action were executed on the 18 and 19 of July (see UA 199/08). This execution brings the total number of people executed since executions resumed on 26 June to 7. At least 107 prisoners in Indonesia are awaiting execution. Source: Amnesty International

Texas executes Leon David Dorsey IV

A twice-convicted killer with a history of violence that continued even after he was sent to death row was executed Tuesday for gunning down 2 video store workers during a robbery 14 years ago in Dallas. "I love all y'all. I forgive all y'all. See y'all when you get there," Leon David Dorsey IV said in his final statement. "Do what you're going to do." Dorsey, 32, acknowledged his sister when witnesses filed in but didn't direct any comments to the relatives of his victims. He was pronounced dead at 6:27 p.m. CDT, 9 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow. Dorsey was the seventh prisoner executed this year in the nation's most active death penalty state and the first of two inmates scheduled to die this week. 2 more are to die next week. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year upheld his conviction and death sentence and no late appeals were filed to try to block Dorsey's lethal injection. Prison records showed that sinc

Dorsey executed

Leon David Dorsey IV, who blamed his victims when he confessed to one of the highest-profile Dallas murder cases of the 1990s, died by lethal injection at 6:27 tonight. Dorsey was sentenced to death eight years ago. Since that time, the 32-year-old has gained a reputation as one of the meanest men on death row. Last month, he vowed to assault prison staff prior to his execution. But despite those threats, Dorsey said little when asked by the warden if he wanted to give a final statement. "I love all y'all," he said from his death bed. "I forgive all y'all. See y'all when you get there. Do what you gonna to do." Source:

Australia to seek clemency for drug smugglers in Indonesia

Canberra will seek clemency for three Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia once all legal processes have been finished, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said. Speaking after talks with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda, Smith said Australia would make a clemency appeal on behalf of three men facing death by firing squad. The trio are part of the so-called Bali Nine, a group of Australians convicted over a plot to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin from the Indonesian resort island into Australia in 2005. Smith said Australia's long-held opposition to the death penalty did not extend to "terrorists'' such as the three Indonesians who are awaiting execution for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings. Source: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Texas: Death row inmate volunteers to be executed

Michael Rodriguez is set to be the 1st of the "Texas 7" to be executed Rodriguez and 6 others escaped from a maximum security prison in December 2000 Rodriguez, reflecting on his crimes: "I am willing to pay" Michael Rodriguez remembers the exhilaration of newfound freedom when he hid in the back of a stolen truck as he and six of his buddy convicts staged one of Texas' most notorious prison breaks. Texas death row inmate Michael Rodriguez has dropped all appeals of his execution. Then he recalls seeing his photo on national TV and grasping the reality that their Hollywood-style plan to rob a Nevada casino had gone terribly awry. He and his fellow fugitives were being hunted everywhere as the killers of a police officer, Aubrey Hawkins, at a store they robbed outside Dallas. This week, Rodriguez is set to become the 1st of the 6 surviving members of the infamous "Texas 7" -- all of them now on death row -- to go to the death chamber. "I'm glad

Australian FM to plead for drug smugglers in Indonesia

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Sunday he would use upcoming talks in Indonesia to raise the issue of clemency for three Australian drug traffickers held there on death row. Smith, who will meet with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda in Jakarta on Monday, said he would discuss the plight of the three men, who face death by firing squad. The trio are part of the so-called "Bali 9", a group of Australians convicted over a foiled plot to smuggle 8.3 kilograms (18 pounds) of heroin from the Indonesian resort island into Australia in 2005. "I'll be just making the point in our formal bilateral conversation in Jakarta tomorrow that we have 3 of the Bali 9 still subject to the death penalty," Smith said. "I'll make inquiries about the progress of their cases through the Indonesian legal and judicial system and, again, make the point that when those processes have completed, that if any of those three still remain the subject of the deat