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Showing posts from July, 2009

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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…

Three people hanged in Isfahan, Iran

3 people were hanged in the prison of Isfahan yesterday July 29, according to a report published by the official website of Isfahan judiciary.

According to the report one of those executed was convicted of extramarital relationship and murder and he was sentenced to execution and lashes (number not mentioned). He was hanged after the flogging was carried out.

The 2 others were convicted of murder and drug trafficking respectively.

Name and age of none of those executed was mentioned in the report.

Source: Iranhr.net, July 31, 2009

Pen Pal Ban for Prisoners Is Opposed

In her online profile, Paula Jones says she is 42, "nonjudgmental" and likes fishing, gardening and cuddling.

Ms. Jones, a Florida prison inmate, posted her listing on a Web site called WriteAPrisoner.com, but by doing that, she is breaking a rule. Florida officials have banned inmates like Ms. Jones, who will be in prison until at least 2010, from having the Match.com-style listings. Prison officials say inmates create problems for their outside-the-pen pals.

But now lawsuits in Florida and elsewhere are trying to get the bans revoked, saying that they are unfair and violate prisoners' constitutional rights.

"The public knows when they're writing to these people that they're prisoners," said Randall Berg Jr., a lawyer representing 2 pen pal groups including WriteAPrisoner.com, based in Florida that have sued in the state. "Nobody is being duped here."

Adam Lovell, the president of WriteAPrisoner.com, said the majority of the people who use his si…

A combat Soldier on Death Row?

Prosecutors want to kill a 3-tour combat veteran who was prescribed dangerous drugs by the same government that trained him to kill.

Somewhere along the way, Americans convinced themselves that you can train a soldier to kill, send him to war, then bring him home and deactivate the killer inside with a magical switch.

We learned during the Vietnam War, or re-learned more specifically, that it doesn't work that way. When you train thousands to survive in combat, a percentage will not easily shed those skills.

A highly decorated 3-tour Iraq Army soldier named Nick Horner, a father of 2 beautiful children, snapped and did the unthinkable last year. The Iraq War vet went on an unprovoked shooting spree that left 2 people dead and a 3rd injured.

The powers to be want to put this decorated Veteran to death, but this is a country where people like Charles Manson spend years in confinement for generations.

The worst part is that the U.S. Army never even admitted that Horner suffered from Post …

Human Rights group: China is world's top executioner

A human rights group says the number of people put to death worldwide decreased in 2008, and that China retained its position as the world's top executioner.

The anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain says in Wednesday's report about 2008 and the first 6 months of this year that Iran and Saudi Arabia also appear near the top of the list of the world's top executioners.

The group said at least 5,727 executions were carried out in 2008, down from 5,851 the year before. It says that 46 countries kept the death penalty last year, 3 fewer than in 2007.

The group estimates that China conducted at least 5,000 executions, or 87.3 % of the total. It is the same figure as last year.

The United States executed 37 people 5 fewer than 2007.

Source: Associated Press, July 30, 2009

China Pledges to Reduce Death Sentences

China, which executes more people than any other country, says it will show more leniency to those given death sentences, state media reported Wednesday.

In a series of interviews, the vice president of the Supreme People's Court said that China was not ready to abolish capital punishment but that the penalty should be reserved for a small number of serious crimes, particularly those that threaten social stability.

More than 60 crimes can draw the death penalty in China, including tax evasion, embezzlement and drug trafficking, but the government does not release figures on the number of executions, many of which take place immediately after a defendant's conviction.

"Judicial departments should use the least number of death sentences as possible, and death penalties should not be given to those having a reason for not being executed," Zhang Jun, the courts vice president, was quoted as saying in the newspaper China Daily.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International e…

Saudi Arabian beheaded by the sword

July 26, 2009: a Saudi Arabian man who shot to death a compatriot following an argument was beheaded by the sword near the capital Riyadh, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.
Mussalat al-Morshadi was found guilty of killing Hudhal al-Otaibi.

Source: Agence France Presse, 26/07/2009

Iran: two executed for terrorism

July 25, 2009: two members of the Rigi group were hanged in Iran.

According to an announcement by the Sistan-Baluchestan Justice Department, Ayyub Rigi and Mas'ud Gomshadzehi were executed for fighting against God and corruption on earth.

Their sentence was carried out in Zahedan prison grounds.

Sources: BBC, 25/07/2009

North Korea: woman executed for distributing Bible

July 24, 2009: Ri Hyon Ok, a Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed on June 16 for the “crime”, South Korean activists said.
The 33-year-old mother of three was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and of organizing dissidents, the Seoul-based “Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity” reported, citing documents obtained from the North. Her children and husband were sent to a prison camp near the city of Hoeryong after she was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon – near the border with China.

Source: Associated Press, 24/07/2009

Japan executes three for multiple murders

OKYO (AFP) – Japan on Tuesday hanged three inmates convicted of multiple murders including a Chinese national and a middle-aged man who found his victims through an Internet suicide site, the justice minister said.

The government identified the condemned as Hiroshi Maeue, 40, Yukio Yamaji, 25, and Chinese national Chen Detong, 41, who had killed three of his compatriots and wounded three more Chinese people.

All three men had committed "grave and cruel" crimes and "taken precious lives with very selfish motives," Justice Minister Eisuke Mori said after the sentences were carried out in Tokyo and the western city of Osaka.

Maeue, executed in Osaka, killed three people including a 14-year-old in 2005 after he got to know them separately through an Internet website where people contemplating ending their lives meet to make suicide pacts.

Maeue arranged to meet his victims under the pretense they would jointly commit suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning. He then lured…

Hangings continue unabated in Iran

Iran Human Rights, July 24: A woman identified as Sakineh Mohammadi, is in danger of being stoned to death by the Iranian authorities in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, wrote the human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei in his weblog.

Mohammad Mostafaei who has taken the responsibility of defending Sekineh writes: Sekineh Mohammadi who has been in the central prison of Tabriz the last four years is convicted of adultry. She was previously sentenced to 99 lashes for adultry and the sentence has already been carried out.

Besides the lashes, she has also been sentenced to death by stoning. Teh stoning verdict has been approved by the supreme court and is in the section for implementation of the verdict, according to Mr. Mostafaei.

Mohammad Mostafaei has already written a letter to head of the Iranian judiciary Mahmoud Shahroudi, asking him to remove the stoning verdict.

According to Mr. Mostafaei, Sekineh is at imminent danger of death by stoning.
Iran Human Rights, July 23: A 21 …

Three men were hanged in southeastern Iran

Iran Human Rights, July 25: Three men were hanged in the prison of Zahedan, sooutheastern Iran, early today, according to a statement published in the official website of the judiciary in Zahedan.

Two of the men were convicted of Moharebeh ("in fight with the God", a term used for those who fight against the Iranian authorities), and membership in Abdolmalek Rigi’s group Jondollah, according to the statement.

The men were identified as Ayub Rigi Khales, son of Allahyar; and Masoud Gomshahzehi son of Bedolhan, according to the statement.

On July 14., 13 others were hanged in the prison of Zahedan convicted of the same charges.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson of Iran Human Rights said: "According to our sources some of the prisoners who were hanged on July 14 in Zahedan, did not have any connection to Jondollah, and were not even aware of that they were going to ba hanged."

"We will publish some details about Zahedan’s arbitrary executions in the near future&qu…

Saudi Arabia:man put to death for murder

July 15, 2009: a Saudi man convicted of the murder of a fellow citizen was beheaded by the sword in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Musaffar Otaibi was found guilty of killing Hamad al-Ruq with a blow to the head with a stick following an argument.

Source: Agence France Presse, 15/07/2009

Iran executes woman who could not afford lawyer

July 14, 2009: a woman in Iran who unintentionally killed her father-in-law in the course of a family dispute in 2005 was executed in Qazvin prison’s facilities for women.

The woman had no money and was unable to hire a lawyer, and was sentenced to death on the law of “equal punishment”.

The victim’s family refused to forgive her and the court order was carried out.

Source: Iran Press Watch, 19/07/2009

Natural causes biggest threat on Pennsylvania death row

10 years ago, Gary Heidnik had 2 slices of cheese pizza and a couple of cups of black coffee, met with his daughter, and spent the rest of the day on his bed or pacing his cell. That night, he was given a lethal injection for imprisoning, torturing and murdering two women in the basement of his Philadelphia home.

In the decade since, Pennsylvania has executed no one. Its death row is the fourth-largest in the nation, yet the 218 men and 5 women are far more likely to die of natural causes than injected chemicals, gas, electricity or bullets.

Since the commonwealth reinstated the death penalty in 1978, 3 inmates have been executed; all had dropped their appeals. At least 7 times that number have passed away, most of natural causes such as cancer or heart failure, while awaiting execution, according to an informal Corrections Department tally.

To find a Pennsylvania inmate unwillingly put to death, you have to go back almost half a century to the last use of the electric chair.

"I …

China executes 196 Uighurs

July 18, 2009: a Chinese court sentenced 196 Uighurs to death, accusing them in participation in the unrests, APA reported, quoting Kanal D.

The court decision was immediately executed and all accused persons were shot dead.

It is not clear where the execution took place or if the government handed the bodies to their relatives.

Source: APA.az, 20/07/2009

Iran: man hanged in Semnan

One man was hanged In Semnan (northern Iran) yesterday

One man was hanged in the prison of Semnan (northern Iran) early Wednesday July 22, reported the official Iranian news agency Irna.

The man was identified as "Mohammad Khalesipour" and convicted of murdering his wife according to the report.

According to the official reports, at least 59 people have been executed since the beginning of July 2009 in Iran.

Source: Iranhr.net, July 23, 2009

Sister Helen Prejean: Starting a conversation with President Obama

President Obama met with the press before his visit with Pope Benedict on July 10. He talked about how he admired Cardinal Bernardine’s “seamless garment” approach to pro-life, that the cardinal included in its scope a wide range of issues: “He was concerned about poverty, he was concerned with how children were treated, he was concerned about the death penalty…”

Now here’s interesting fodder for a conversation with President Obama. For starters: “Aren’t you, too, very, very concerned about the fact that already 135 innocent people have been released from death row? How many will it take before we recognize the failed system? Not to mention the shocking, appalling racist application of the death penalty presently carried out in the Deep South states.”

Do you have any ideas about how we might get a conversation going with President Obama and his wife, Michelle, about this issue? Would you like to help us mount a young people’s letter writing campaign to the White House to end the death…

Iran: three hanged

One woman was hanged in the prison of Qazvin, west of Tehran, according to the Iranian daily Etemaad-e-melli. The woman who was not identified by name was convicted of murdering her father in law, but due to her econimic situation she couldnt afford a lawyer to prove that she didn't kill him delibrately, according to the report.

According to the Human rights activists news agency, she had been in the prison for 4 years and was hanged on Tuesday July 15.

Two men were hanged in the prison of Isfahan yesterday July 21, reported the Iranian daily Etemad today.

The men are identified as Esmaeil (23) and Moslem (28) and were convicted of murder in 2 separate cases, according to the report.

At least 59 people have been executed in the first 3 weeks of July 2009.

Source: Iranhr.net, July 22, 2009

Four people were hanged in Qom, south of Tehran, Iran

Four men were hanged in the prison of Qom, south of Tehran, reported the government newspaper "Iran", today.

The men were identified as Reza, Gholamhossein, Reza and Hossein, and were convicted of sexualt assault of a girl identified as "Narges" in 2007, said the report.

The report didn't say when exactly the hanging took place. But it is believed that the men were hanged yesterday, July 20.

Five other young men were executed in relation with the same case in May 2008.

Altogether nine people have been hanged convicted of murder and sexual assault of Narges.

"Ali", the only surviving person in this case is waiting for the final verdict.

Source: Iranhr.net, July 22, 2009

Death penalty is abolished in Kazakhstan

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Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s President, has signed the law abolishing death penalty in all cases except acts of terrorism entailing loss of life and especially grave crimes committed in wartime. The law includes the right to seek pardon.

Abolishing the death penalty has been one of the main objectives of President Nazarbayev. Back in December 2003, the Kazakh President signed a presidential decree which imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. The moratorium remained in operation until the final abrogation of capital punishment in Kazakhstan this week.

This new law follows President Nazarbayev’s proposal of a series of political reforms in 2007 including capital punishment.

The law will adjust legislation on death penalty in accordance with the Kazakh Constitution. Amendments concerning crimes punishable with life imprisonment have also been added to the Criminal Code.

The resolution of the Committee for Legislation & Legal Reforms of the Majilis (the Kazakh Parliament’s L…

Expansion Of Federal Death Penalty Counter To Furthering Civil Rights, Says ACLU

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate yesterday passed an amendment extending the death penalty for certain hate crimes. The amendment, sponsored by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), was added to the hate crimes amendment to the Defense authorization bill that passed last Thursday. In a letter sent to Senators, the American Civil Liberties Union urged lawmakers to oppose this misguided and wrong expansion of the federal death penalty.

“The expansion of the federal death penalty stands in stark contrast to furthering the cause of civil rights in the United States,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “The death penalty is always wrong. Capital punishment has been proven to be such an expensive and discriminatory punishment that Congress should oppose any effort to expand its scope and reach. At a time when evidence is mounting that scores of innocent defendants have been sentenced to death, Congress should steer clear of expanding the death penalty."

Problems, such as inade…

Ohio: Marvallous Keene executed. USA's 1000th via lethal injection

Marvallous Keene, Dayton's notorious "Christmas killer," was put to death by lethal injection this morning at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.


Marvallous Keene could die only once. That was not enough for family members of some of his victims.

Keene, 36, paid the ultimate price today for a Christmastime killing spree in Dayton in 1992 that left 5 people dead and a string of broken lives and dreams.

Keene died at 10:36 a.m. from a lethal injection of chemicals administered at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. "No, I have no words," he said when asked whether he had any last words.

Seven witnesses, including 2 in wheelchairs, for the victims watched the execution from a witness room adjacent to the death chamber.

Keene was the 2nd serial killer to be executed in Ohio in a week, following John Fautenberry of Trumbull County last Tuesday. Together, they accounted for 10 murders.

The Ohio Supreme Court subsequently changed its procedures so ex…

Texas reporter's seen unrivaled number of U.S. executions

(CNN) -- It takes seven minutes to execute a death row inmate, according to the state of Texas.

At that rate, Mike Graczyk has spent about 40 hours of his life watching men -- and a few women -- die.

Graczyk, a correspondent for The Associated Press, is believed to hold a macabre record. He's almost certainly watched more executions than anyone else in the United States.

"I can't possibly imagine there's been someone present at more than Mike," said Michelle Lyons, the spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which uses lethal injection at its execution chamber in Huntsville.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, no state has executed more inmates than Texas. And no one has witnessed more of them than Graczyk.

He's on the witness list for 315 of the state's 439 executions -- more than any other reporter, prison employee or chaplain -- and no records were kept for another 80.

In his early days, he kept count. But he eventually stopped.…

Ohio Makes Rare Mercy Recommendation In Death Penalty

The triggerman in a 1995 murder-for-hire scheme should be spared execution because other members of the plot were just as guilty, the Ohio Parole Board said Friday in a rare ruling in favor of mercy.

The board ruled 5-2 in favor of clemency for Jason Getsy, 33, scheduled to be executed Aug. 18 for the murder of 68-year-old Ann Serafino, of Hubbard, a Youngstown suburb in northeast Ohio.

Getsy was also convicted of the attempted murder of Serafino's son, Charles, who was the target of the scheme. Getsy and other participants did not expect Ann Serafino to be home the night of the shooting.

In the ruling obtained by The Associated Press, the board singled out the life sentence for John Santine, who initiated and organized the crime, saying Santine appeared to be just as guilty as Getsy.

Santine, 48, is serving a sentence of 20 years to life.

"In imposing a death sentence, it is imperative that we have consistency and similar penalties imposed upon similarly situated co-defendants,&q…

California: High Court Upholds Instruction on Governors Commutation Power

A Riverside Superior Court judge did not deprive a defendant charged with capital murder of his constitutional rights by telling the jury, in response to a question, that the governor would have the power to commute any sentence of life imprisonment without parole, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

While commutation instructions are generally inappropriate because they are irrelevant to the penalty determination, Justice Carol Corrigan wrote, Judge Robert McIntyre reasonably responded to the jury's question by telling them that it was possible for the governor to commute a sentence, but that they should not consider that in determining whether to impose the death penalty on Michael L. Bramit.

The justices yesterday unanimously upheld Bramit's death sentence for the 1994 robbery-murder of Jose Fierros. 5 other justices joined Corrigan in concluding that the commutation instruction was proper given the circumstances, while Justice Carlos Moreno disagreed but said the instru…

TDCJ official says foreign death penalty opponents funding cell phone smuggling

When John Moriarty, inspector general for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice testified before Congress yesterday in support of legislation to permit cell phone signal jamming around prisons, he offered some insights into the problem of phone smuggling to prison inmates.

Moriarty told legislators phones are usually carried into the facility by corrupt employees or contractors; dropped in a location to be smuggled in by inmates or concealed in packages shipped into the facility.

Search procedures enacted last fall, after a death row inmate threatened a state senator via cell phone, include pat searches, metal detectors and x-rays, but "inmates and corrupt employees in some cases have changed their operational techniques by resorting to secreting the devices in their body cavities in order to get past the search procedures," he said. "Conducting body cavity searches is permitted only under extreme circumstances due to the intrusiveness of the search. This search tech…

New mass execution in Iran

July 14, 2009: In a mass prison execution, Iran hanged 13 rebels from the Sunni insurgent group Jundallah as "enemies of God" for a string of attacks, including kidnapping of foreigners.

The official IRNA news agency said the insurgents were executed in prison in Zahedan.

"Thirteen members of this group were hanged this morning," provincial judiciary chief Ebrahim Hamidi was quoted as saying.

The rebels were accused of being "mohareb" (enemies of God) and of "kidnapping foreigners, killing innocents and of carrying out terrorist acts for the Jundallah group," IRNA said, quoting a local judiciary statement.

Media reports that Abdolhamid Rigi, brother of Jundallah leader Abdolmalik Rigi, was executed were denied by Hamidi, who said Rigi would be executed later this week.

Source: AFP, 14/07/2009

Ohio: John Fautenberry executed

LUCASVILLE, Ohio -- Multistate serial killer John Fautenberry was executed this morning for the 1991 murder of a 46-year-old father of two who picked him up while hitchhiking near Cincinnati.

Fautenberry, 45, was lethally injected at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. The time of death was 10:37 a.m. He had no final statement, and did not look to either the victims' families or his spiritual adviser as the deadly drugs began flowing into his system. After a few minutes, he closed his eyes and silently died.

Rachel Daron, 23, the Ohio victim's daughter, came to the prison but did not witness the execution. She told reporters later she came "to get closure, to know it's real, it really happened, and it's over.

"I just saw him in the hearse. That's good enough for me."

Charlene Farmer of Springfield, Tenn., mother of a New Jersey victim, did witness the execution. She said later, "His pain has ended -- mine has not. I think he got…

Oklahoma: Michael DeLozier Executed

McALESTER, Okla. -- A man convicted of the 1995 shooting deaths of two campers in southern Oklahoma has been put to death.

Michael P. DeLozier, 32, was pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

DeLozier was executed for the Sept. 24, 1995, deaths of Orville Lewis Bullard and Paul Steven Morgan. According to court documents, DeLozier and two others ambushed Morgan and Bullard at their campsite along the Glover River, shot them and stole their vehicle and equipment.

Attorneys for DeLozier had asked the appeals court for a stay of execution and a new evidentiary hearing, but the state Court of Criminal Appeals denied the request on Thursday.

Source: The Associated Press, July 9, 2009

India's top court refuses to replace hanging with lethal injection

July 6, 2009: India's top court has refused to replace hanging with lethal injection as the country's sole method of execution, saying there is no evidence it is less painful than other ways.

Monday's ruling rejected a petition by rights activist Ashok Kumar Walia, who said hanging was a "cruel and painful" method of execution and should be replaced by lethal injection, which is used in more than 30 U.S. states as a primary method of execution.
"How do you know that hanging causes pain? And how do you know that injecting the condemned prisoner with a lethal drug would not cause pain?" Supreme Court Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said.
Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam said experts believe that hanging — meant to dislocate the neck and sever the spinal cord — causes instant death.
The judges suggested that Walia instead campaign for abolition of the death penalty in India.

The judges noted that the death penalty is awarded only in the "rarest of …

Death penalty 'exonerations'

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Recently, I made another reference to the number of Death Row inmates across the country who have been spared execution because of exonerations of one form or another. The Death Penalty Information Center keeps this count -- it is presently 133 -- and it has been verified elsewhere in the mainstream press. When I first started using the numbers from DPIC, I conducted Sun archive and Internet searches to independently check the exonerations, and found a large sampling of them to be accurate.

But, at the same time, I think "exonerations" should only be used when a person is convicted but later found to be innocent of the murder that resulted in a sentence of death. That is the popular meaning of "exoneration," and yet the DPIC uses it to cover those whose convictions have been overturned because of legal flaws.

A reader of my column wrote to challenge my acceptance of the word "exoneration" as shorthand for all those who have been removed for various reasons …

Iran: New suppressive measures by Judiciary to combat popular uprising

Mullah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, the Iranian regime's Judiciary Chief, in a statement on Sunday, while showing the regime's fear of the role of "the daily growth of anti-regime satellite channels" in increasing the people's uprising, called for "serious measures to confront this phenomenon" and urged "The honorable provincial judiciary chiefs and judges across the country" to dedicate "a branch of the prosecutor's office" to this work in order to issue "comprehensive and preventative sentences" on this matter and "suitable judicial action is taken, based on articles 498, 499, 500, 504, 508 and the subsection of article 510 of the Islamic penal code, against people who in some manner cooperate with the aforementioned networks or become members of organizational cells which are formed via internet websites." (State-run news agency ISNA, July 5, 2009) The articles mentioned fall within the definition of "ac…

Yemen executes man for rape, killing 11-year-old

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Yahia al-Raghwa, 22, was found guilty of raping and murdering Hamdi Abdullah, 11, at his barber shop in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, last December.

He was shot by a firing squad in a public square in the capital on Monday, in the presence of hundreds of people including the family of the victim.

Photographs of the execution showed al-Raghwa being led by guards to the square before he was forced to kneel. He was then shot in the back of the head in public view before his body was dragged away.

His death brings the number of executions in the country this year to nine.

Yemen is one of 59 countries which retains the death penalty, and one of its most prolific users, according to Amnesty International.

It is deployed for a variety of violent and non-violent crimes including apostasy and adultery.

Last year Yemen executed 13 people, according to those Amnesty has verified. But as no official figures are released the real toll could be far higher.

All of those died by firing squad but in recent year…

China executes 2 for attack before Olympics

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Two men were executed Thursday for an attack on police that killed 17 in northwestern China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, state-run media reported.

Abdurahman Azat, 34, and Kurbanjan Hemit, 29, were sentenced to death on December 17 after being convicted of homicide and illegally producing guns, ammunition and explosives, the Xinhua news agency said.

The Uyghur men, who were armed with knives, axes and explosives, rammed a stolen truck into a group of 70 police officers in Kashgar, Xinjiang, authorities said. They then flung explosives at a police station and stabbed officers. Fifteen people were injured in the attack, in addition to the 17 killed.

Azat and Hemit were executed at an unknown location, the news agency said. It did not say how they were executed.

The August 4, 2008, attack happened four days before the Olympics. Chinese authorities regarded the violence as a terrorist act, saying they knew of five groups in the region that were plotting to sabot…

Egypt: Activists decry death penalty trend

Alarmed by a sharp rise in the number of death sentences passed by the country's courts, human rights activists in Egypt have stepped up their campaign seeking abolition of capital punishment, which, they say, has failed to have the desired deterrent effect on the crime rate.

"The Egyptian authorities have to reconsider capital punishment, which has not succeeded in bringing down violence and crime in society," said Hafez Abu Saeda, a prominent rights activist.

"What would be the case if a death inmate was found to be innocent after his execution?" he said in remarks to Gulf News.

"My organisation is planning a series of seminars and workshops to educate the public and the officials concerned about the serious dangers involved in keeping the death penalty," added Abu Saeda, who is the chairman of the Egyptian Organisation for Human rights, a non-governmental group.

Over the past 6 months, Egyptian courts have sent more than 90 people to the gallows, the l…

20 people were executed in Iran on July 4, 2009

According to the state run Iranian news agency Fars, 20 people were hanged in the Rajaee shahr prison of Karaj (west of Tehran) early this morning July 4. The report also said that "all those hanged were convicted of drug trafficking between 2004 and 2008, and were between 35 and 48 years of age".

On July 3., Iran Human Rights warned that 29 prisoners were scheduled to be executed in Tehran today July 4.

Iran Human Rights is investigating whether among those executed, there were people arrested in connection with the recent pro-democracy demonstrations in Iran. Rajaee shahr prison is commonly not used for executions but under special situations.

"34 people have been executed in Iran in the past 4 days, and 26 of the executions have taken place in Tehran. There is no doubt that these executions are meant to spread fear among the people and suppress further the pro-democracy movement in Iran" said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson of Iran Human Rights.

He added: &quo…

July 4, 2009

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Across America today, on Independence Day, there will be traditional fireworks, parades, summer fun for children in swimming pools and at ballgames, and a pervasive national outpouring of patriotism, reflected in both flag displays and the singing of the national anthem at countless events.

There are also almost 3,300 individuals who will not be any part of these festivities; they are mostly forgotten, despised and reviled.... they are America's condemned.

They sit on death rows in 34 states, as well as in a military prison in Kansas and a fedeal facility in Indiana. Most are overwhelmingly guilty of vile, heinous, outrageous and terrible crimes. Many are mentally ill, even profoundly mentally ill, and a good number are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Collectively, they are, in part, responsible for a great deal of anger, hurt, pain and rage in our society.

They face death by firing squad, hanging, electrocution, cyanide gas, and lethal injection (there are m…

Iran: new hangings

July 1, 2009: Iran hanged six people for murder, and two others were spared by the families of their victims at the last minute.

The execution of a ninth convicted murderer, who was 16 at the time of his crime in 1992, was postponed on the order of judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, the Etemad newspaper said.

Etemad quoted a judge as saying some of the six people put to death in Tehran's Evin prison were convicted of killing their spouses, without giving other details on their crimes or their identities.

Source: Reuters, 02/07/2009

July 2, 2009: Six men were hanged in the prison of Qom, south of Tehran, reported the state run Iranian news agency Fars.

The men were identified as Ahmad T., Abolfazl B., Reza A., Mostafa F., Esmaeil R. and Mohammad Kh. and were all convicted of drug trafficking according to the report.

Source: IHR, 02/07/2009

July 1, 2009: Six persons who had demonstrated against the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were reportedly hanged in Iran, reported the…