Texas: Rodney Reed granted indefinite stay of execution

Stay of execution came just hours after parole board unanimously recommended 120-day reprieve
The Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was granted a stay of execution on Friday, 5 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites two years earlier.
The court had previously rejected multiple appeals, but Reed’s lawyers argued that fresh evidence bolstered his claim of innocence. 
They said in a statement that they “are extremely relieved and thankful … this opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr Reed’s innocence”.
Millions of people, including a clutch of celebrities, have rallied behind Reed’s cause, helping to generate momentum and public attention as the execution date of 20 November loomed an…

US hopes Malawi gay pardon sends message 'around the globe'

Washington - The White House Saturday said it was "pleased" to hear that a gay couple in Malawi had been pardoned from a long prison sentence and hoped the decision would open new dialogue and send a global message.

In a statement, the White House press secretary was reacting to the decision by Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika to grant the pardon, which came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the country.

The couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, (pictured) had been sentenced to 14 years in prison after they openly celebrated their engagement. Homosexual acts are banned in the southern African country.

"We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe," the White House said.

The White House called for a renewed commitment to "ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Malawian's views on homosexuality are shared by many people in Africa, where gays suffer widespread discrimination, repression and, sometimes, violence.

The parliament of the central African nation of Uganda, where homosexuality is already prohibited, is considering a bill that would increase the penalties for homosexual acts from 14 years in jail to life, or even the death penalty, for some acts.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has described gays as "worse than dogs and pigs."

Source: EarthTimes, May 29, 2010

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