Showing posts from April, 2010


‘A Short Film About Killing’: The movie that brought an end to the Polish death penalty

The most intellectually challenging film I have ever seen about capital punishment. Definitely a must-see. DPN review and YouTube trailer available in our 'Films & Documentaries' section — DPN editor As far as European cinema goes, there are few figures quite admired in critical circles as the inimitable Krzysztof Kieślowski. Known for his Dekalog series of 1989, as well as The Double Life of Veronique and the Three Colours trilogy, Kieślowski embodied everything so extraordinary about the power of European cinema and that of his native Poland in turn.

Sharon Keller Fined $100,000 for Failing to Report Income and Property

Sharon Keller , presiding judge of the state’s highest criminal court, has been fined $100,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to fully report her income and property holdings on annual personal financial statements. It was the largest civil penalty imposed by the commission, according to Tim Sorrells, deputy general counsel for the agency. The statements for 2006 and 2007 failed to list eight properties, valued at around $2.8 million; between 100 and 499 shares of stock; income from rents, interest and dividends totaling $183,000 over the two years; 20 certificates of deposit; and one money market fund, according to a commission order. Keller also failed to list her participation on five board or executive positions and almost $10,000 in honorariums, the commission said. Keller’s failure to fully list her properties, largely in the Dallas area, were revealed in articles by the Dallas Morning News and prompted the left-of-center watchdog group Texans for Pu

Taiwan: 4 death row inmates executed

Taiwan executed 4 death row inmates Friday, the first time the death penalty had been carried out in the country since December 2005. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) confirmed Friday evening that four death row convicts, identified as Chang Chun-hung, Hung Chen-yao, Ko Shih-ming and Chang Wen-wei, were executed earlier in the day, 2 days after Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu signed the warrants for the executions, the ministry said in a statement. Taiwan last executed death row convicts in December 2005. The lack of executions since then drew attention earlier this year when former Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng insisted on promoting the abolition of capital punishment and refused to sign death warrants. Wang was later forced to resign March 11 amid a public outcry of victims of violent crimes and their families. When Tseng assumed office March 22, he made it clear that while abolishing the death penalty is an ultimate goal, he would abide by the rule of law in dealing with issue

Utah Catholics lead fight against Gardner's execution

Utah's Roman Catholic leaders are expressing dismay that, for the first time in more than a decade, the state is poised to execute an inmate. The Salt Lake City diocese is urging parish priests to remind Catholics what the church teaches about the death penalty: that it cannot be justified when there are other ways to keep society safe. The message to priests was included in the weekly bulletin sent to parishes where 300,000 Utah Catholics worship. It urges Catholics to learn more about the issue on the Web sites of a new anti-death penalty group in Utah ( ) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Campaign to end the death penalty ( ). Dee Rowland, the head of the diocese's Peace and Justice Commission, says there will be a prayer vigil at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City in the hours before any execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner this spring. The traditional teaching of the Catholic Church is that state

Oklahoma City Bombing Victim's Father Says Executions are Not Part of the Healing Process

Visit for breaking news , world news , and news about the economy Bud Welch, father of Julie Welch who was killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing, recently appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, just a few days before the 15th anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma. Welch, who is the president of Murder Victims' Familes for Human Rights , has been a long-time opponent of the death penalty and has said that executions are more often "staged political events" instead of a part of the healing process for victims. When asked how he came to oppose the death pealty for Timothy McVeigh, Welch told Maddow, "I reached that point probably about a year after the bombing - close to a year. All my life, I had always opposed the death penalty. I just thought it was something that society should not be doing. And after Julie‘s death, I was so full of revenge and hate that I had to get retribution in some way. So I was for the death penalty probably for the first year. And

Man hanged for drug trafficking in the prison of Ardebil, in northwestern Iran

Iran Human Rights, April 29: One person was hanged in the prison of Ardebil, in northwestern Iran. According to the Iranian state run news agency Fars, the man who was not identified by name, was convicted of keeping 1,23 kilograms of heroin. According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report in 2009, more than one third of the people executed in Iran were convicted of drug trafficking. However, many of them were not identified by name and none of the charges were confirmed by independent sources. Source: Iran Human Rights , April 30, 2010

California unveils new lethal injection execution rules

Corrections officials on Thursday announced new procedures for executing prisoners by lethal injection, beating a May 1 deadline by a day and clearing a major obstacle to resuming capital punishment after a hiatus of more than 4 years. The proposed changes in the death chamber procedures are intended to address concerns expressed by a federal judge in 2006 that the state’s previous 3-drug formula may have exposed some of the 13 people executed in the last 2 decades to unconstitutionally "cruel and unusual punishment." Although the new procedures could get final approval from the state Office of Administrative Law within a month, executions are unlikely to resume soon as state and federal judges must first review the largely minor changes and decide whether they address the constitutional questions and procedural complaints by death penalty opponents. Those reviews are likely to extend at least through the end of the year. California has 703 inmates on death row, and a hand

Japan: Travelers get rare 'reminder' about China's death penalty

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday issued a rare "reminder" to Japanese travelers bound for China not to get involved in drug smuggling, which could lead to the death penalty. A ministry source said it is extremely rare that overseas travel information is issued with the aim of raising caution over a specific country's criminal punishment. Such "spot information" is usually released when the security situation deteriorates or a terrorist act is committed. The reminder comes after China earlier this month executed 4 Japanese men convicted of smuggling drugs. It was the 1st time Japanese nationals were executed there since the 2 countries normalized diplomatic ties in 1972. The information posted on the ministry's Web site says Chinese authorities deal with crimes involving stimulants, narcotics and other illegal drugs harshly and that "an extremely heavy punishment" is imposed for violations. "The maximum sentence is the death penalty,"

Texas: Condemned killer wins new punishment trial

A convicted killer on Texas' death row for 20 years had his death sentence thrown out Wednesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Harris County jurors who decided Roy Gene Smith should be executed were not allowed to properly consider mitigating evidence of his crime-ridden Houston neighborhood and that he was surrounded by poverty and crime throughout his life, Texas' highest criminal court ruled. The decision is in line with changes in punishment evidence rules ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in death penalty cases since the time Smith was tried in 1990. The appeals court ordered Smith's case returned to Harris County court for a new punishment trial. Smith, 51, was condemned for the October 1988 fatal shooting of James Whitmire, 67. Evidence showed he used some of the $4.27 taken from his victim to buy his girlfriend a hot dog. Smith also was sentenced to a life prison term for a murder he was convicted of committing three days before the Whitmire slaying. Th

Texas: Death Penalty to Be Sought in Fort Hood Case

Military prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with shooting 13 people to death at Fort Hood. His lawyer, John Galligan, said he received notice Wednesday outlining an aggravating factor: that more than one person was killed in the same occurrence. Experts in military law say that is the Army’s way of saying it plans to seek the death penalty. Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 28, 2010

Iran: 27 executions in past 20 days

NCRI - With three more hangings reported on Tuesday in cities of Dezful (southern Iran) and Mashhad (northeast Iran) the number of executions in the past 20 days reaches 27. The state-run daily Quds reported on Tuesday that two prisoners were hanged in Mashhad. It gave no details about the prisoners. Another prisoner identified as Rahman R. was hanged in Dezful on April 20 (State-run Fars news agency, April 27). On the same day, a prisoner named Reza S. was flogged in public in the southern city of Masjed-suleiman. On the brink of the International Workers’ Day, the clerical regime is creating an atmosphere of intimidation and terror in a bid to prevent spread of public protests especially by workers. To this end it has stepped up executions, some in public, and the medieval punishment of flogging in public. The Iranian Resistance calls on all international human rights organizations, in particular the UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant UN spec

Japan abolishes statute of limitation for murder

The Diet on Tuesday passed bills into law abolishing the statute of limitation for murder cases and doubling the limits for other crimes that result in death. The government promulgated and enacted the legislation later the same day. The bills to revise the Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code were passed at the House of Representatives plenary session with the support of the ruling parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. Ahead of the plenary session, the lower house's Judicial Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bills. The abolishment and extension of the statutes of limitation also will be applied to past cases whose limits had not expired by the time the legislation was enacted. The statute of limitation in a 1995 case in which a couple in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, was fatally stabbed and their house set alight, which was to expire midnight Wednesday, was abolished. The government and ruling parties started deliberations on the bills on Apr

DNA Clears NY Man Wrongly Convicted of 1988 Murder

A New York truck driver who spent nearly 19 years behind bars for a 1988 slaying he didn't commit walked free Wednesday after DNA testing exonerated him and instead pointed to another prison inmate. The exonerated inmate, Frank Sterling, 46, was convicted of murder in 1992 based on a confession that he later recanted. State Judge Thomas Van Strydonck vacated the conviction after Monroe County prosecutors agreed with lawyers for the Innocence Project that DNA evidence obtained from the victim's clothing excluded him as the killer and pointed instead to Mark Christie, who was convicted of strangling a 4-year-old girl in 1994. Prosecutors who interviewed Christie earlier this month said he confessed to killing Viola Manville. He had been questioned about Manville's killing in 1988 but denied involvement and was discounted as a suspect. Manville, a 74-year-old grandmother, was attacked as she walked along a rural trail near her home in Hilton, a Rochester suburb, and was blu

Georgia: Troy Davis hearing set for June 30

Federal judge directs both sides to provide witness lists, evidence by June 11. A June 30 hearing was scheduled Tuesday for convicted murderer Troy Anthony Davis to present his innocence claims in the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Chief U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. also ordered attorneys for Davis and the state to file their lists of all witnesses, affidavits and other evidence by June 11. Davis, 40, remains on death row at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison at Jackson for his 1991 conviction and death sentence in the MacPhail case. The U.S. Supreme Court in August sent the case to federal court with instructions for the court to take testimony and determine whether evidence not available at the original trial "clearly establishes (Davis') innocence." MacPhail, 27, was shot twice and slain early Aug. 19, 1989, as he rushed to help a homeless man being beaten in the parking lot of the Burger King restaur

Saudi Arabia: Man beheaded for murder

April 27, 2010: Saudi authorities executed a man by beheading after he was sentenced to death for murder, the interior ministry announced. Saudi national Umair al-Shihri was put to death in the southern city of Bisha for shooting to death another Saudi, Muzakkir al Shahrani, with a machine gun, according to the announcement carried by the state news agency SPA. No details were given about the date or location of the crime, but the ministry said the execution had been put on hold until the victim's children came of age. Source: Agence France Presse, April 27, 2010

U.S.: Rapid City mom puts last hope in pope's letter for son on Texas' death row

A Rapid City mother whose son will be executed by the state of Texas on May 12 said Wednesday that she has little hope that a possible plea for clemency from Pope Benedict XVI to Gov. Rick Perry will convince the Texas governor to spare her son's life. "Who knows whether it will mean anything to Gov. Perry?" Beth Varga said of the attempt by a Rome organization that opposes the death penalty to involve the Vatican. Kevin Varga, 41, is scheduled to die on May 12 at the Huntsville State Prison in Texas for the 1998 beating murder of David Logie during a robbery. An Italian woman, Stefania Silva, asked the Vatican to intervene on Varga's behalf. Silva received a letter from the office of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone dated April 21 promising that her request had been forwarded to the Papal Nuncio in Washington, D.C., who may forward a clemency plea in the name of Pope Benedict to both the governor and the Texas Board of Pardons. Varga's case has garn

Texas executes Samuel Bustamante

Condemned Texas inmate Samuel Bustamante (pictured) was executed Tuesday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block his punishment for the fatal stabbing of an illegal immigrant from Mexico during an attempted robbery a dozen years ago. Bustamante, 40, was the seventh prisoner executed this year in the nation's most active death penalty state. He was convicted of the 1998 slaying of Rafael Alvarado, 27, a Mexican national in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, who became a target on what Bustamante and some of his friends called "shopping trips" where they would hunt illegal immigrants, then beat and rob them. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court, refused an appeal Monday from Bustamante, sending the case to the Supreme Court. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also declined a clemency request. The high court rejected his appeal less than 90 minutes before he was scheduled for lethal injection. In their appeal

Three executions and one public flogging in Iran

Iran Human Rights, April 26: Three men have been hanged and one person was flogged in public according to reports from Iran. According to the Iranian daily newspaper Quds , two men were hanged in the prison of the northeast Iranian city of Mashad. The men who were not identified by name, were convicted of rape in two separate cases. The report didn’t mention the exact date of the executions. The official website of Khuzestan (southwestern Iran) judiciary reported today that one man was hanged in the prison of Dezful on April 20. The man who was identified as "Rahman R." was convicted of murder. Another man identified as "Mohammadreza D." is scheduled to be hanged in Dezful on April 27 said the report. The same website reported that a man identified as Reza S. was flogged in public in the town of Masjed Soleiman on Tuesday April 20. He was convicted of the acts against chastity. The report didn’t mention how many lashes Reza was punished with. Source: Iran Human

Al-shabab court carries out death sentences, amputate man's hand in Mogadishu

High court of Al-shabab administration in Mogadishu has carried out death sentenced to a murder and amputated man's right hand in Mogadishu, witnesses and officials said on Monday. The 2 men were accused of murdering and banditry actions according to the judge of the court saying that the court had sentenced killing to Mohamed Ahmed Kassim who charged for the killing of a man adding that the other Shine Abukar Hassan had lost his right hand after assuring that both men had committed the crimes. The judge of the court Sheik Omer said that the representative of the family whose man was killed earlier was present at the areas demanding the death sentence pointing out that carried out it immediately. He also said that other accuser’s hand was cut off adding he was required to pay the things he stole. The spokesman of Al-shabab fighters Sheik Ali Mohamud Raghe was among the officials attended where the sentence happened calling for the administrations to carry out the sentences by no

First Woman To Be Executed in the United Arab Emirates?

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) upheld the death sentences of a woman and three men who were convicted for crimes they committed as minors. The four individuals, Khawla, Fahd, Mukhtar, Abdullah Hussein, are now waiting in Sharjah central prison for confirmation as to whether they will face execution by firing squad. Khawla, her alleged boyfriend, Fahd and 2 others had been sentenced to death in 2003 for premeditated murder of Khawla's husband in 2003. At the time of the killing, Khawla, Mukhtar and Hussein were 17 years old. Khawla confessed to the police at the day of the crime and the others arrested the next day. Under the UAE domestic law the family of a victim can accept retribution or 'blood money' and pardon those founded guilty for murder. In UAE the amount of the ‘blood money’ is fixed at approximately $45,000. The parents of the victim have refused to pardon the offenders and seek capital punishment for them. The death penalty is t

Iranian homosexuals flee to Turkey to escape torture and execution

Turkey harbouring Iranian homosexuals who managed to escape torture and execution from Iran where homosexuality is illegal and if proven, punished by execution. According to an article by the Washington Post Turkey is harbouring at least 92 homosexuals who managed to flee Iran as there are no visa required to pass from Iran to Turkey. Most of the Iranian refugees have been placed by the Turkish government in the city of Kayersi, which is situated in Central East Turkey and is also the area where thousands of Iranian immigrants who fled Iran over the much disputed June presidential election, are situated. Though, according to the Washington Post and some other newspapers, the Iranian homosexuals fear harassment and are told to lay low, there are no such credible findings on the matter. Many of the Iranian homosexuals are trying to flee to first world countries, especially the Unites States as their living conditions in Kayseri are not adequate just like the living conditions of the

New execution in Saudi Arabia

April 25, 2010: A Saudi man was decapitated by the sword in the eastern city of Dammam, in Saudi Arabia, after being sentenced to death for murdering another Saudi man, the government announced. Saleh al-Ghamdi was executed after being convicted in the shooting death of Idha al-Jaid following a dispute, the interior ministry said in a statement published by the official SPA news agency. It was the ninth reported execution of the year in Saudi Arabia. Sources: AFP, April 26, 2010

Iran: Death sentence for propaganda

RAHANA – Habibollah Golparipour, a native of Sanandaj (capital of Kurdistan, Iran), was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in the city of Mahabad (Kurdistan, Iran). Golparipour was accused of propaganda and membership in an anti-regime group. He was tried on the charge of Moharebeh (enmity against God). The court cited articles 186 and 190 of the Islamic Penal Code for its decision. Golparipour is currently detained in Mahabad prison. He spent part of his six-month pre-trial detention in Sanandaj. Golparipour’s lawyer Seyed Ehsan Mohtava confirmed the death sentence and stated that he plans to appeal the ruling issued to his client. Golparipour and his lawyer have 20 days to file an appeal. Source: Persian2English , April 25, 2010

California Governor Candidate Wants Death Penalty on Spending Chopping Block

Stewart Alexander says "The Democrat front-runner Jerry Brown and Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner support the death penalty and the Three Strikes law. The truth is, these 3 candidates for governor are aware that capital punishment is robbing the public of billions of dollars to subsidize a broken down criminal justice system." ( Left: Exterior of the new San Quentin Death Chamber. ) Candidate Alexander wants to eliminate death penalty and Three Strikes law There is a side of capital punishment that most Californians remain completely oblivious to; it is the tremendous cost to taxpayers. PFP Governor Candidate Stewart Alexander says if he is elected to serve as California Governor, "capital punishment and the Three Strikes law will be on the chopping block to reduce wasteful spending in Sacramento." California taxpayers will spend an average of $250 million ($250,000,000) for each prisoner on death row and most of the cost is related to the high cost of

Texas: Forensic Team Reviews Death Penalty Case

A state forensics panel on Friday assigned 4 of its members to review the arson case that resulted in the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of killing his 3 children. In a report prepared last year for the Texas Forensic Science Commission, fire expert Craig Beyler found fault in the investigation that led to Willingham's conviction. But in September, 2 days before the commission was to discuss the report and question Beyler, Gov. Rick Perry replaced 3 of its members, including its chairman. The new chairman, John Bradley, the Williamson County district attorney, canceled that meeting. Without Beyler's finding, prosecutors have admitted it would have been hard to win a death sentence against Willingham. The investigative panel was confirmed Friday at a commission meeting in Irving. It will include Bradley, Fort Worth defense attorney Lance Evans, Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani and Sarah Kerrigan, a forensic toxicologist and director of

Ohio mulled execution tweeting, though tastefulness a concern

A spokeswoman says Ohio's prison system has contemplated using Twitter to announce when an execution has been completed. However, Communications Director Julie Walburn at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says she's concerned that tweeting about an inmate's time of death may be considered in poor taste. She says the department still hasn't decided how to use Twitter and other social media to disseminate news. Walburn says she's focused on trying to get the word out about executions quickly. When condemned inmate Darryl Durr died by lethal injection at 10:36 a.m. Tuesday, a news release was e-mailed to media outlets one minute later. Source: Associated Press, April 23, 2010

Virginia legislature approves gov's push to allow victims to visit with attackers on death row

Lorraine Whoberry tried for years to meet face-to-face with her daughter's killer before he was executed last month. She was repeatedly denied her requests. So the day after she witnessed his execution, Whoberry sat down with Gov. Bob McDonnell and asked for his help. A bill was making its way through the Virginia General Assembly that would allow victims of violent crime to meet with the perpetrators, but it excluded those on death row and juveniles. McDonnell amended the bill to allow victims to meet with inmates on death row. On Wednesday, the General Assembly unanimously approved the change. Although more than half of the states have victim-offender mediation programs, advocates said Virginia would be one of the first to cement it into state law. Virginia also becomes one of only a handful that allow meetings with death row inmates. "Even though it's not going to affect us, at least we've got something done," Whoberry said when told about the change. Even

Saudi Arabia: Laywer says Saudis might pardon Lebanese 'sorcerer'

A Lebanese man who was charged with sorcery and given the death sentence in Saudi Arabia, might get an official pardon from the kingdom, his lawyer said on Friday. Ali Sibat (pictured), a Lebanese television presenter was arrested in Saudi Arabia in May 2008 while on a pilgrimage to Mecca and found guilty of engaging in "sorcery." Before his arrest, Sibat, a 49-year-old father of 5, used to work for a now defunct Lebanese satellite television channel where he used to predict the future to callers from around the world. Saudi Arabia, a devout Muslim country, frowns on witchcraft, black magic and fortunetelling, which it regards as polytheism. A Saudi court has issued the death sentence to Sabat and a beheading had been scheduled for April 2. But an uproar from Lebanon and a variety of human rights group caused Saudi officials to delay the sentence. May Khansa, Sibat's Lebanese lawyer, said she was informed by Lebanese Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar that Sibat's &

Texas Convicted Offenders Spend Years On Death Row

The average time a Texan spends on death row is about 10 years, with some Texas prisons reporting overcrowding at their facilities. Some convicted criminals in Texas are executed in as little as 248 days. For others it has taken as long as 24 years, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. However, for William Josef Berkley, who was convicted of killing Burges High School senior 18-year-old Sofia Martinez, it took less than eight years for his execution. He was executed at 5:18 p.m. Thursday. Texas leads the nation in the number of executions. "We have a sense in our culture, you hit me and I'll hit you back, you slap me and I'll slap you back," said Charlie Doyle from St. Patrick's Criminal Justice Ministry. "We have to go beyond revenge to compassion, that's a tough thing to do." A recent report shows Texas murder rates remain among the highest in the country. Another El Pasoan on death row is Fabian Hernandez, who was convicted

Texas forensics panel to move ahead with Willingham arson case probe

A state panel decided Friday to move ahead with its investigation of questionable arson science that contributed to the conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. The Willingham case has become part of the national debate on the death penalty with opponents suggesting that Texas in 2004 executed an innocent man. Gov. Rick Perry, prosecutors and others have maintained that other evidence clearly pointed to Willingham's guilt in the 1991 Corsicana house (left) fire that killed his three daughters. The Texas Forensic Science Commission was poised last October to hear from a national expert it had hired to review the case when Gov. Rick Perry removed the commission's chairman and two other members two days before the meeting. Perry's new appointee to head the commission, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, cancelled the meeting citing his need to educate himself on commission's business. The Willingham case returned to the agenda on Friday, seven

Utah judge allows state to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner using five-man firing squad

A Utah judge signed a death warrant Friday allowing the state to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner (left) using a five-man firing squad, a spokeswoman for the Utah's state court system told CNN. Before signing the death warrant, Third District Judge Robin Reese asked Gardner if he wanted to be executed by the method he had chosen previously, spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said. "I would like the firing squad, please," Gardner replied. It would be the state's first use of the firing squad since 1996, when John Albert Taylor was executed for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Taylor said he chose the method to embarrass Utah, which at the time was the only state that offered the firing squad as an option. Gardner's execution date was set for June 18, 2010. However, Gardner's lawyer said he planned to file an appeal, which could change the date, Volmer said. Gardner was convicted of murder in the 1985 killing of an attorney during a courthouse escape attempt. A