Showing posts from August, 2009


Communist Vietnam's secret death penalty conveyor belt: How country trails only China and Iran for 'astonishing' number of executions

Prisoners are dragged from their cells at 4am without warning to be given a lethal injection Vietnam's use of the death penalty has been thrust into the spotlight after a real estate tycoon was on Thursday sentenced to be executed in one of the biggest corruption cases in the country's history. Truong My Lan, a businesswoman who chaired a sprawling company that developed luxury apartments, hotels, offices and shopping malls, was arrested in 2022.

China admits death row organ use

China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants. According to the China Daily newspaper, executed prisoners currently provide two-thirds of all transplant organs. The government is now launching a voluntary donation scheme, which it hopes will also curb the illegal trafficking in organs. But analysts say cultural bias against removing organs after death will make a voluntary scheme hard to implement. Thriving black market About 1.5 million people in China need transplants, but only about 10,000 operations are performed annually, according to the health ministry. The scarcity of available organs has led to a thriving black market in trafficked organs, and in an effort to stop this the government passed a law in 2007 banning trafficking as well as the donation of organs to unrelated recipients. But in practice, illegal transplants - some from living donors - are still frequently reported by the media and the Ministry of Heal

Cameron Todd Willingham case: Expert says fire for which father was executed was not arson

In a withering critique, a nationally known fire scientist has told a state commission on forensics that Texas fire investigators had no basis to rule a deadly house fire was an arson -- a finding that led to the murder conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. The finding comes in the first state-sanctioned review of an execution in Texas, home to the country's busiest death chamber. If the commission reaches the same conclusion, it could lead to the first-ever declaration by an official state body that an inmate was wrongly executed. Indeed, the report concludes there was no evidence to determine that the December 1991 fire was even set, and it leaves open the possibility the blaze that killed three children was an accident and there was no crime at all -- the same findings found in a Chicago Tribune investigation of the case published in December 2004. Willingham, the father of those children, was executed in February 2004. He protested his innocence to the end.

Judge Keller's disappointing testimony

It was impossible not to gasp last week when Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller addressed the question of what she would do differently if she had a do-over in the execution of Michael Richard. Nothing. That was the essence of Keller's answer at her misconduct trial. It is as disturbing now as it was when news broke of her infamous "we close at 5" directive to court personnel minutes before Richard's execution was scheduled to be carried out in September 2007. Her defense is built on a thinly sliced interpretation of procedures that offend the expectation that Texas courts should be accessible and blindly fair. Keller's supporters may ask what fairness Richard showed to 53-year-old Houston-area nurse Marguerite Lucille Dixon when he entered her home, raped her and shot her in the head. Answer: none. Nor have we seen evidence to question his guilt. That's not the point. Instead, consider that the next person with a last-min

My thanks to maligned Judge Keller

I'd like to express my gratitude to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. She has made Texas' supreme court for criminal matters into a better institution. Unfortunately, she didn't do it by bringing organizational skills to a court that must deal more than any other state court in the nation with the pressures of last-minute appeals in death penalty cases. But she did it. The firestorm of criticism that followed her decision not to keep the clerk's office open for a late filing, based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision from earlier in the day, of a man scheduled to be executed an hour after closing time, has produced some improvements. According to her own testimony and that of other court officials during this week's four-day trial, the court had a protocol for dealing with execution day filings, but it was something of a secret. For one thing, it wasn't written. For another, the court staff was not given any formal trai

Former Death Row Warden Discusses the Impact of Executions on Correctional Officers

Dr. Allen Ault (left on picture) was the warden at the maximum security prison in Georgia where executions were carried out. He also served as Commissioner of Corrections during a lifetime career in the field. He is currently the Dean of the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University. In the video accompanying this note, Dean Ault discusses the tremendous drain that carrying out executions had, and continues to have, on his life. He added, "I know I'm not the only one who has administered executions that felt the way I do. They all have shed a lot of tears." He questions the value of the death penalty, and recognizes the difficulty that many politicians have in challenging this punishment, despite its obvious flaws. With respect to deterrence, he said, "I have a hard time believing that using premeditated murder and violence (executions), is a way to model behavior that would deter somebody else from doing it." The video was made at the end o

Ark. lethal injection suit to be heard in October

Whether Arkansas resumes executing death-row inmates could hinge on how justices on the state's highest court read 5 words. Those 5 words "is to be carried out" sit near the beginning of a new law aimed at rendering the lawsuit over lethal injection by death-row inmate Frank Williams Jr. moot. State lawyers say it shows the law applies to all 40 men now awaiting execution on death row. However, Williams' lawyers have told the state Supreme Court that the law can't be applied retroactively in his case. The high court has scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 8 in Williams' case, which has stalled executions in the state for a year. But if justices agree with state lawyers, they can issue a ruling beforehand to set the stage for Arkansas' first lethal injection since 2005. Federal public defenders representing Williams filed the lawsuit in 2008, as their client faced a scheduled execution date. They argued the state prison system failed to follow a requirement t

Thailand: Drug dealers put to death

2 convicted drug traffickers at Bang Khwang prison have been executed by lethal injection. Bundit Jaroenwanit, 45, and Jirawat Poompreuk, 52, yesterday became the country's 5th and 6th people to be executed by lethal injection, which replaced death by shooting in 2003. The atmosphere at Bang Khwang prison in Nonthaburi was subdued yesterday when the 2 learned they were about to die. They were given 60 minutes to call or write to their loved ones. They were then offered a last meal and a chance to listen to a sermon from a monk invited from Wat Bang Praek Tai. They were blindfolded and given flowers, candles and incense sticks before being taken to the execution chamber. The two, their legs manacled, turned their faces towards the temple as they were laid out on beds. They received 3 injections. The 1st was a sedative, the 2nd a muscle relaxant and the 3rd a drug that stops the heart beating. Source: Bangkok Post, August 24, 2009

Iran: four hanged

August 20: Two men were hanged in the prison of Isfahan (central Iran) yesterday August 19, reported the government newspaper Iran. According to the report, the men were identified as Mansour (51) and Meysam (24), and were convicted of drug trafficking and murder, respectively. On the same day, two others were hanged in Tehran. August 19: Two men were hanged in Tehran’s Evin prison today, reported the Iranian state run news agency ISCA news. The men were identified as Moharamali (30) and Mehdi (29) and both were convicted of murder according to the report. The report also says that five others, including Behnoud Shojaee (minor offender) were scheduled to be executed this morning but their executions have been postponed. Another news agency ISNA had earlier today reported that no one was executed today. Iran Human Rights , along with other human rights defenders and organizations had warned about the execution of Behnoud Shojaee and 6 others yesterday. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spoke

American Justice Is Not Blind, But It Is Truly Sick

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Federal District Court Judge Fernando Gaitan of the Missouri Western District Court have at least two things in common: they are both appointees of President Ronald Reagan, and they both think it's just fine for the US to execute innocent people. The same can be said for Judge C. Arlen Beam of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a recent dissent in a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling ordering a habeas hearing in federal court for South Carolina death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis, a man slated to die after being convicted for the murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer, Scalia wrote, "This court has never held that the constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is 'actually' innocent." For his part, Judge Gaitan, in Missouri, had 2 shots at considering the case of Joseph Amrine, a death-row inmate slated to die for the

Ohio ex-executioner says EMT experience an asset

Known as Team Member 18, the now-former executioner testified in March in an ongoing federal case brought by Ohio death-row inmates. Separately, a state lawyer's legal opinion requested by the office that oversees EMTs said Wednesday that the state cannot stop emergency medical technicians from serving as members of Ohio's execution team. "I have had to deal with death and dying on a daily basis as a paramedic," Team Member 18 testified. He said the state never trained him in the use or makeup of the lethal drugs used in executions. Instead, he relied on his EMT experience when trying to figure out if the first drug had put a death row inmate to sleep. "Thirty years of experience in monitoring patients," he testified. "Watching for vital sign changes, watching for movement changes, just watching the person as I would if it was a person in my care* ." He said he didn't keep a tally of executions and couldn't always remember individ

State Killing: Scalia Doesn't Care Whether You're Innocent, You Get Executed Anyway

In the middle of Justice Scalia's dissent in Troy Davis's case, a dissent that Clarence Thomas joined in, we have this remarkable, astonishing, shocking sentence: “This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.” I cannot believe that they wrote this in a Supeme Court opinion. And I'm not alone in thinking I would never, never, never see something like this in a published opinion. Let's begin with the trial. The State of Georgia tried Troy Davis for murder and it got a conviction. And that conviction was upheld on appeal. In fact, there was nothing the matter with the trial, nothing wrong at all according to the appeals courts except one small thing. The jury convicted an innocent man. Troy Davis was convicted of the capital murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer who as then working as a security gu

Florida executes John Richard Marek

STARKE -- John Richard Marek was executed Wednesday for murdering a 45-year-old mother of two whose raped, tortured and strangled body was dumped in Dania Beach after her car broke down on Florida's Turnpike 26 years ago. Marek, 47, died at 6:33 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the Florida State Prison. He was condemned for the first-degree murder and kidnapping of Adela Marie Simmons, whose nude body was found the day after she climbed into a pickup truck to get help after a friend's car broke down on the turnpike in Palm Beach County in 1983. Marek made a last statement before he died, but it was inaudible to members of the news media and witnesses, who included Simmons' son-in-law. Marek's appeals were turned down by the U.S. and Florida supreme courts on Wednesday. He had claimed that the other man in the truck, Raymond Wigley, killed Simmons. Martin McClain, Marek's attorney, tracked down inmates who said Wigley told them he was the killer. Wigley, wh

Saudi man beheaded for double murder

A Saudi man who shot dead 2 compatriots was beheaded by the sword today in the holy city of Mecca in the west of the conservative kingdom, the official SPA news agency reported. It quoted the interior ministry as saying the man, named as Ali Assiri, shot the 2 others dead in a dispute. Saudi Arabia imposes the death sentence for rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking under the country's strict Islamic sharia law. A total of 51 people have been put to death in Saudi Arabia in 2009, according to an AFP count. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 102 people. Source: Agence France-Presse

Ohio executes triggerman in murder-for-hire scheme

Ohio has executed the triggerman in a 1995 murder-for-hire scheme that killed a 66-year-old woman and severely injured her son. 33-year-old Jason Getsy was pronounced dead at 10:29 a.m. Tuesday in the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville. Getsy was sentenced to die for fatally shooting Ann Serafino in a crime that targeted her son, Charles Serafino, in a dispute over a lawn care business. Charles Serafino was shot 7 times but survived and witnessed Getsy's execution Tuesday. Getsy becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Ohio and the 32nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999. The state has at least 1 execution scheduled for every month through next February. Getsy becomes the 36th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1172nd overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977. Sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin, August 18, 2009

Sotomayor’s first vote on death penalty

The newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, on Monday night cast her first vote in a death penalty case, joining three other members of the Supreme Court in dissent as the Court permitted the execution Tuesday of an Ohio inmate, Jason Getsy, 33. He was scheduled to die in Lucasville, Ohio, at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Sotomayor would have granted a stay of execution, along with Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. Sotomayor’s predecessor, retired Justice David H. Souter, frequently voted to postpone executions. In the Court’s order, the Justices also denied Getsy’s petition for review, in Getsy v. Strickland (09-5935). There was no indication of dissent from the denial of review of the case itself. The Ohio Parole Board, by a vote of 5-2, recommended to Gov. Ted Strickland that he commute Getsy’s death sentence to life in prison. The governor, however, refused, saying that the evidence of Getsy’s crime was too strong to warrant clemency. Getsy was s

Iran: two men hanged

Iran Human Rights, August 15: Two men were hanged in Adelabad prison of Shiraz (southern Iran) early Wednesday morning August 12, reported the Iranian daily Etemad. The men were identified as Hamed and Zaeem (Afghan citizen) and convicted of rape in two seperate cases. The report didn’t mention age of the men. Source: Iran Human Rights, August 15, 2009

Iran: 24 people hanged in Tehran prison

July 30, 2009: 24 people were hanged in the prison of Rajaee Shahr, at Karaj (west of Tehran), according to a report published by the state run Iranian news website "Borna news". The report that was quoting Tehran’s vice-prosecutor Mahmoud Salar-Kia, wrote: All the 24 were sentenced to death convicted of drug trafficking, and their sentence had been approved by the Iranian Supreme Court. None of those executed were identified by name. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson of Iran Human Rights, said: “We are very concerned about the high number of executions. Number of executions in July are the highest monthly numbers in many years". He added: "Most of those executed are not identified by name and we can’t know whether the charges mentioned in the reports published by the authorities are true. World community must condemn these executions which are meant to spread fear among the people. Source: Iran Human Rights, 05/08/2009

New Hearing Ordered for Troy Davis

The Supreme Court, over two Justices' dissents, on Monday ordered a federal judge in Georgia to consider and rule on the claim of innocence in the murder case against Troy Anthony Davis (In re Davis, 08-1443) The Court told the District Court to "receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence." Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, and some of their arguments were answered in a separate opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The new member of the Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, took no part in the Court's action. The action was highly unusual, because Davis had filed what is called an original writ of habeas corpus — that is, a plea for his release, filed directly in the Supreme Court rather than in lower courts. Justice Scalia noted in his dissent that the Court had not taken a

Backstory and reaction to denial of capital clemency in Ohio

As detailed in this post, yesterday Ohio Governor Ted Strickland denied clemency for death row defendant Jason Getsy despite the state parole board's recommendation for mercy based in part on the fact that Getsy was the only one of multiple persons involved in the crime sentenced to death. This local article about the decision details some input Strickland received and reactions: "Justice won today," said Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, who worked feverishly to persuade the governor to ignore the board's recommendation. "He made the decision to kill. This case is as bad as it gets," Watkins said. "This was just evil." The prosecutor helped coordinate a petition drive that produced at least 2,000 signatures in favor of death, including 150 to 200 from the local General Motors plant. There was even a signature and a petition circulated by a juror who heard the Getsy case in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay and found the then-19-year-

Texas judge in the dock in death row case

"We close at 5:00 pm." 4 words were all it took for Texas judge Sharon Keller to extinguish the last hopes of death row inmate Michael Richard. He was executed hours later. Scrambling to file a motion delaying his 2007 execution by lethal injection, Richard's defense lawyers say they ran into computer problems and called over to Keller's courthouse to ask it stay open a little later. Her refusal prompted outrage, and on Monday the judge will find herself in the dock as she goes before a professional conduct panel to face claims that her decision was arbitrary and inappropriate. The charges stem from September 25, 2007, when the US Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of death by lethal injection -- the method by which Richard was to be executed at 6:00 pm that evening. His lawyers say they immediately began drawing up motions asking for the execution to be delayed until the Supreme Court made a decision but started having computer problems s

A Texas Judge on Trial: Closed to a Death-Row Appeal?

Soft-spoken and a devout Christian, Judge Sharon Keller presides as chief justice of Texas' highest criminal court. She's also known as "Sharon Killer" by her opponents, who are going to see her in court next week on charges of judicial misconduct. They charge that Keller refused a condemned man a last-minute appeal in 2007 and now she faces a trial in a San Antonio courtroom that could lead to her removal and will certainly focus wide attention on Texas' enthusiasm for the death penalty. Keller finds herself at this pass because of a four-word sentence she uttered on September 25, 2007: "We close at 5." According to a newspaper interview with Keller in October 2007 and pretrial testimony last year, she said those words to Ed Marty, general counsel for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). As the court's logistics officer, Marty had called the judge at the behest of lawyers for Michael Richard, 49, who had been on death row for 2 decades an

Lawyer: Four killers of U.S. official could escape death

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Four men convicted of murdering a U.S. aid official and his driver in Khartoum could escape the death penalty if the family of the American victim rescinded its request for execution, the defense lawyer said Monday. The four were condemned to hang for killing John Granville, 33, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and his driver, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39. Under Sudanese law, the families of murder victims can choose blood money or the death penalty for retribution. Granville's mother, Jane, said in a letter read after the sentencing in June that she preferred the killers be jailed for life, but because this option had not been offered she backed the death penalty. Defense lawyer Adil Abdelgani told Reuters the father of the driver had waived his right for execution, prompting the court to seek the view of Granville's family again. "They will not issue a new sentence until they hear the views of the family of the late Granv

China: former head of Beijing airport executed

August 7, 2009: the former head of Beijing airport's management company was executed in China for corruption, state media reported. An intermediate court found 60-year-old Li Peiying guilty in February of accepting almost $4 million in bribes and embezzling about $12 million in public funds over the past 14 years. It is unknown when the Supreme Court ruled or what method of execution was used. Sources: Associated Press, 07/08/2009

Sotomayor Confirmed by Senate, 68-31

WASHINGTON — Voting largely along party lines, the Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor (pictured) as the 111th justice of the Supreme Court. She will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the court. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was expected to administer the oath of office to Judge Sotomayor, 55, in the next few days, with a formal ceremony likely in September. She succeeds Justice David H. Souter, who retired in June. Democrats celebrated the successful nomination and relatively smooth confirmation process as a bright spot in a summer when they have been buffeted by several challenges, including rocky progress on their attempts to overhaul the nation’s health care system, President Obama’s falling approval ratings, the climbing unemployment rate and other lingering economic problems. Shortly after the vote, President Obama said he was "deeply gratified" and confident that Judge Sotomayor would become an outstanding justice. The id

Japan's first postwar jury convicts man of murder

Aug 6th, 2009 TOKYO -- Japan's first jury trial since World War II concluded Thursday with a mixed group of citizens and professional judges convicting a man of murder and sentencing him to 15 years in prison. The ruling was the first under the new Japanese jury system, a major overhaul of the country's legal framework that is expected to speed up trials and offer greater transparency. The system pairs six citizens with three professionals, and the nine together decide both guilt and sentencing. All nine are considered judges. Until now, all trials were heard by only professional judges. The trial took place in the Tokyo District Court and found 72-year-old Katsuyoshi Fujii guilty of murder in the fatal stabbing of a 66-year-old neighbor in May. Fujii had pleaded guilty but was asking for leniency in sentencing. Murder carries a maximum penalty of death in Japan, although it is rare in cases involving a single victim. The verdict and sentencing came just four days after the tr

India to execute 2003 bomb trio

A court in India has sentenced to death three people for carrying out bombings that killed more than 50 people in Mumbai (Bombay) in 2003. Haneef Sayyed, his wife Fahmeeda and Ashrat Ansari were convicted last month of murder and conspiracy. The explosions at the famous Gateway of India landmark and a busy market shocked the country and caused carnage. They were said to be in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims during riots in Gujarat state the year before. Hundreds have been killed in attacks in Mumbai in recent years. Devastating "The court has given death sentence to all three," chief public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said. "They wanted to target religious structures in the city. The responsible have been brought to book." The double car bombing in August 2003 left devastation at the Gateway of India and the Zaveri Bazaar market near the Mumba Devi temple in central Mumbai. About 180 people were injured. The three defendants, all of them from Mumbai, were charged

China executes 2 for defrauding investors

China executed two business people for defrauding hundreds of investors out of more than $127 million, calling the scam a serious blow to social stability, state media said Thursday. China puts to death more people than any other country, although last month a high official for the Supreme People's Court, which reviews every death sentence, said the punishment should be used more sparingly. Though usually reserved for violent crimes, death sentences are also applied for nonviolent offenses that involve large sums of money or are seen to threaten social order. The two were executed Wednesday. China's highest court said the fraud had "seriously damaged the country's financial regulatory order and social stability," the official Xinhua News Agency said. The report said Du Yimin, a beauty parlor owner from eastern Zhejiang province, collected more than 700 million yuan ($102.5 million) from hundreds of investors by promising them monthly returns of up to 10 percent fr

Iran hangs 24 drug traffickers 'in mass execution'

TEHRAN — Iran hanged 24 convicted drug traffickers in a prison last week in one of the country's biggest mass executions, the Etemad newspaper reported on Wednesday. "On Thursday, 24 international drug traffickers were hanged in a prison in Karaj," deputy Tehran prosecutor Mahmoud Salarkia was quoted as saying. "Their execution was approved by the supreme court." The report did not identify any of those sent to the gallows in Karaj, a town west of Tehran. The latest hangings bring to at least 219 the number of people executed in the Islamic republic so far this year, according to an AFP count based on news reports. They were the second such executions in about a month in the same prison, where the Iranian authorities hanged 20 drug traffickers on July 4. In July last year, Iran hanged 29 people who had been convicted of various crimes, including murder, rape and drug trafficking. It was the largest mass execution in recent years. In January last year, 13 people

China: man who confessed to a murder while innocent man was wrongly executed is still awaiting trial

BEIJING — A man who confessed to a murder for which an innocent man was wrongly executed is still awaiting trial in China, four years after admitting his guilt, a report said Wednesday. Hugejiletu was put to death in June 1996 for the rape and murder of a woman in the toilet of a textile factory in Hohhot, capital of the northern region of Inner Mongolia, the Beijing News reported. Hugejiletu, who had reported the case to police, had maintained he was innocent despite attempts to get him to confess. In October 2005, a man named Zhao Zhihong was arrested by police and confessed to killing 10 people in Inner Mongolia, including the woman murdered in the factory, the state-run newspaper said. However, nearly four years later Zhao remains in detention and has not been brought to trial despite efforts by Hugejiletu's parents to clear their son's name, it said. In 2006, the local judicial department set up a special investigation group to review the case but it has not made any progr

Kenya: 4,000 death sentences commuted to life emprisonment

August 3, 2009: Kenya's more than 4,000 death row inmates all will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, President Mwai Kibaki announced, describing their wait to face execution as "undue mental anguish and suffering." No death sentence has been carried out in the past 22 years in the East African nation. Kibaki said he made the decision following advice of a constitutional committee and that he was commuting the sentences using powers provided for under Kenya's constitution. "Extended stay on death row causes undue mental anguish and suffering, psychological trauma (and) anxiety while it may as well constitute inhuman treatment," the president said in a statement. Kibaki noted that the decision did not in any way suggest the abolition of the death penalty but said he had directed the government to assess whether the punishment was having any impact on the fight against crime. Source: Ap, 03/08/2009

Saudi Arabia: Nigerian national executed for murder

August 2, 2009: Nigerian national Qorbi bin Musa Adam was beheaded by the sword in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for murdering a Saudi man after robbing him. The Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency that Adam beat Ibrahim al-Assiri, bound his hands and feet and stuck a tape over his mouth. Assiri suffocated to death. Source: Agence France Presse, 02/08/2009

Iran: new hangings

Iran Human Rights, August 4: Two people were hanged in the prison of Boroujerd, (Lorestan province, western Iran) early Monday morning August 3, reported the Iranian daily Kayhan. The men, who were not identified by name, were convicted of raping a woman, according to the report. Iran Human Rights, August 3: Three men were hanged in the prison of Hamedan, western part of Iran, reported the state run news agency ISCA news today. All the three were convicted of rape, in two different cases, said the report. None of the men was identified by name, and Iran Human Rights cannot confirm that they were convicted of the alleged charges. Source: Iran Human Rights, August 5, 2009 The number of the executions has increased significantly in Iranian prisons since the pro-democracy demonstrations started after June 12 elections. Iran Human Rights, August 3: Two men were hanged in the prison of Isfahan, reported the Iranian daily Kayhan today. One of the men was identified as "Hassan R." (