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Showing posts from April, 2011

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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…

Bahrain worshippers protest death sentences

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Thousands denounce death sentences for anti-government protesters, and solidarity protests in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Thousands of Bahraini Shia Muslims have gathered before a revered cleric to denounce death sentences given to protesters over anti-government rallies crushed last month in the Gulf kingdom.
The verdict, handed down by a military court a day earlier to four men accused of killing two policemen in violent protests last month, could intensify sectarian tension in the Sunni Muslim-ruled state that hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
"It's not true that they killed them," a man who identified himself only as Moussa said, after praying at the mosque of Sheikh Issa Qassim, as a police helicopter circled overhead.
"The government made it up just like a movie."
He was referring to video footage that Bahraini authorities have circulated showing the two policemen smashed by a vehicle that sped through a crowd of protesters, some of whom appeared to then tra…

Governor Brown Cancels Plan to Build New $356 Million Condemned Inmate Housing Facility at San Quentin

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SACRAMENTO – Acting to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today canceled plans to build new housing for condemned inmates at San Quentin.
“At a time when children, the disabled and seniors face painful cuts to essential programs, the State of California cannot justify a massive expenditure of public dollars for the worst criminals in our state,” said Brown. “California will have to find another way to address the housing needs of condemned inmates. It would be unconscionable to earmark $356 million for a new and improved death row while making severe cuts to education and programs that serve the most vulnerable among us.”
Planning for a new condemned inmate housing facility at San Quentin was initiated in 2003, during the administration of Governor Gray Davis, and was continued by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration. The project was designed to house 1,152 inmates and provide for future growth of California’s condemned population. Ca…

Four Bahrain protesters sentenced to death

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A court in Bahrain has convicted four demonstrators and sentenced them to death over the killing of two police officers during pro-democracy protests.
Three others were sentenced to life in prison by the military court.
Bahraini authorities have responded harshly to protests which began in February, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Hundreds of people have been detained for taking part in protests, many unable to communicate with family.
The seven defendants were tried behind closed doors on charges of premeditated murder of government employees - allegedly running two police officers over in a car.
Rights groups say they were denied communication with family or friends and had little access to legal counsel.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges, reports said.
Crackdown
The trial was the first publicly announced since the Gulf state was put under martial law in mid-March.
That followed more than a month of protests, during which demonstrators had occupied the now-bulldozed Pearl Roun…

Sierra Leone pardons 96 prisoners - including 5 death-row inmates - on independence anniversary

Sierra Leone feted its 50th anniversary of independence from Britain on Wednesday with a colourful parade and government pardon of 96 prisoners, five of whom were on death row.
In a nationwide broadcast President Ernest Koroma hailed the country's progress since the end of a devastating decade-long civil war in 2002, one of the continent's bloodiest in which tens of thousands were killed and mutilated.
"We fought a war but we have sustained the peace that is the envy of the world. We have had spells of unelected leadership but we are today the shining example of a country that is consolidating its democracy," he said.
The speech was followed by a parade by the country's armed forces and some 4,000 school children at the national stadium in the capital Freetown.
Presidents from Mali, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia and Senegal were present as well as high-ranking delegations from the European Union, South Africa, Israel, Britain and China, foreign ministry official…

Family of death row inmate Cheong Chun Yin to submit clemency plea tomorrow

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The family of a Malaysian death row inmate in Singapore said they would submit a clemency plea to Singapore president SR Nathan on Wednesday in another attempt to seek for a sentence reduction.
The 28-year-old Cheong Chun Yin was convicted of trafficking 7. 7 grams of diamorphine into Singapore in 2008.
The Singaporean court sentenced him to death last February and rejected his appeal eight months later.
Cheong's sister told the Malaysian press on Tuesday that her parents and a sister will hand a clemency plea and a petition bearing some 8,000 signatures to the Singaporean president at the Singapore palace on Wednesday.
They had insisted that he was a victim framed to traffic drugs into Singapore and were pleading for the Singaporean authority to reinvestigate the case and review the death sentence.
The DVD-seller from the Malaysian southern state of Johor, which borders Singapore, had told investigators when he was caught that he thought he was carrying gold bars.
Among those who would…

Court overturns Abu-Jamal death sentence

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The jury that sentenced Mumia Abu-Jamal (left) to death for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer was wrongly instructed, a U.S. appeals court said Tuesday.
The court ordered the state of Pennsylvania to hold a new sentencing hearing within 180 days or to sentence Abu-Jamal to life imprisonment. The 3-judge panel upheld the findings of a district court judge and an appellate decision in 2008.
Abu-Jamal, 57, has been on death row since 1982 when he was convicted of shooting Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. During his years in prison, he has written several books and become one of the best-known death-sentenced inmates in the world.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he is considering whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The high court has already ordered the appeals court to reconsider its earlier finding that the sentence was invalid, resulting in Tuesday's opinion.
The court found the judge gave confusing instructions to…

Alabama switches key drug for execution next month

Alabama announced Tuesday that it was switching out a key drug used in lethal injections earlier than expected, a move that will be challenged by a condemned inmate scheduled to die in less than a month.
Like several other states, Alabama has turned over its supply of sodium thiopental to the Drug Enforcement Agency after questions were raised about how and where the states received the drug. The drug pentobarbital will now be used as part of the state's 3-drug execution cocktail instead of sodium thiopental, Alabama prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said.
The change comes after attorneys for death row inmate Jason Oric Williams wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking the federal government to investigate whether Alabama's supply of sodium thiopental was illegally obtained from Tennessee. That states supply of the drug has also been seized by the DEA.
At least 10 states have switched to pentobarbital or are considering a switch as part of their three-drug methods because of…

Uganda gay bill may lose death penalty clause

The Ugandan parliamentarian behind an anti-gay bill that attracted worldwide condemnation has said the most controversial part of the legislation - the death penalty provision - is likely to be dropped from the bill.
David Bahati said yesterday that if the parliament committee the bill currently sits before recommends that the death penalty provision be removed, "I would concede."
"The death penalty is something we have moved away from," Mr Bahati said.
After his anti-gay bill was proposed some 18 months ago, it attracted international condemnation, including from President Barack Obama. Since the initial uproar, the bill has languished in committee.
But Stephen Tashobya, the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, said the legislation may come up for a vote before parliament's session ends on May 12.
"We shall try and see how far we can go with the bill," he said.
Source: The Scotsman, April 27, 2011 _________________________ Use the tags…

Australian prisoners kept in 'inhumane' conditions in Indonesia, says jail chief

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BALI'S Kerobokan Jail is now so over-crowded that is "inhumane' and in some cell blocks the prisoners barely have enough room to sleep, the jail's Governor said today.
Governor Siswanto said that the 323-inmate capacity of Kerobokan jail, where the Bali Nine - Andrew Chan, Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Myuran Sukumaranwas - are kept, now stands at 1034 prisoners.
"It is 300 % overcapacity. There are a lot of inmates and detainees, they have to push each other to sleep and it is inhumane," Mr Siswanto said during Indonesia's Corrections Day celebration at the jail.
He said that based on national standards the ideal capacity would be about 357 prisoners.
"Now it is very, very overcrowded and it could impact both the rehabilitation and security system."
Mr Siswanto said on each shift only 11 guards was responsible for the 1034 prisoners.
But so far authorities have fail…

Egypt ex-minister put on trial for shootings

Former interior minister faces the death penalty if found guilty of killing protesters.
Habib al-Adly, Egypt's ex-interior minister, has gone on trial in Cairo for the 2nd time.
He is accused of having ordered the shooting of demonstrators during protests that toppled the former regime.
Adly has been charged along with 6 former aides, the state news agency reported on Tuesday. His case has been adjourned until late May.
He is also being held responsible for insecurity that prevailed after police disappeared from the streets of Cairo in the early days of the protests.
According to an official toll, 846 people were killed and several thousand wounded during 18 days of massive nationwide street protests that forced president Hosni Mubarak to quit on February 11.
Adly was also the 1st member of Mubarak's regime to be put on trial in another case of embezzlement, in which he has pleaded not guilty.
The court was placed under high security, with lorry-loads of riot police and army tanks st…

European death drugs to be used in two US executions next week

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Drugs supplied by European pharmaceutical companies are set to be used to execute two US prisoners on the 3rd and 6th of May.
Anaesthetics from Denmark-headquartered Lundbeck and UK-based Dream Pharma will be used in the respective executions by lethal injection of Cary Kerr in Texas and Jeffrey Motts in South Carolina.
Several states are in possession of large supplies of sodium thiopental, the anaesthetic due to be used in the execution of Jeffrey Motts, which they were able to acquire from the UK in the delay before the British government imposed export controls. There are serious concerns that the drug, bought through back-channels from a tiny firm in an office in a driving school in Acton, may be faulty – leaving prisoners in severe pain during their executions. Three botched executions using the drug have already been carried out.
Meanwhile, Lundbeck continues to supply the barbiturate pentobarbital through a facility based in the USA. The barbiturate was not intended for use in le…

Police Killer Put to Death in East China

A man who killed 4 policemen and a civilian in east China's Shandong Province early this year was executed on Tuesday.
Liu Jianjun, 51, was given the death penalty for his crimes, which included murder and illegal possession of guns and ammunition, according to the verdict issued on March 14 by the Intermediate People's Court of Tai'an City in Shandong.
Liu Jianjun and his brother Liu Lumin shot and killed the police who entered their home to question them over the murder of a man who died on Dec. 29, 2010.
The duo carried out the shooting with a homemade pistol and a double-barreled shotgun in Tai'an on Jan. 4.
After gunning down the officers, the 2 men fled the scene, hijacking four cars and shooting two drivers before their car collided with a police wagon.
The brothers continued to fire after police cornered them.
Liu Lumin, who was wounded in the shootout, shot and killed himself and Liu Jianjun was captured while attempting suicide.
On April 13, the Higher People's …

Legal issues arise over Tennessee's death penalty drug

Legal issues over Tennessee's lethal injection drugs may cause delays on death row.
The state's supply of lethal injection drug sodium thiopental has been seized by the federal government.
Tennessee, like other states, had to turn over its stock of the drug because of allegations it may have been obtained illegally from an unregulated overseas provider.
The drug is used to sedate the inmate.
Other states have started using pentobarbital, which is commonly used in animal euthanasia.
Tennessee's Department of Corrections has said it would consider the drug.
3 Hamilton County inmates are on death row.
Harold Nichols was sentenced in May 1990 for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Karen Pulley.
Leroy Hall was sentenced in March 1992 for 1st degree murder.
And Marlon Kiser was sentenced in November 2003 for the death of Hamilton County deputy Donald Bond.
Source: WRCB News, April 25, 2011 _________________________ Use the tags below or the search engine at the top of this page to find upd…

Hanging Mules in Singapore

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The island republic's inflexible drug laws doom drug couriers.
He scrunches up his tear-streaked face, uses the back of his hand to rub his eyes. His anguish is palpable. "Please help. Please." Cheong is living a parent's worst nightmare. His 28-year-old son, Chun Yin, sits on death row in Singapore, convicted in 2010 of smuggling 2.7 kg of heroin into the country. It's a harsh punishment for a first offender. But under Singapore's laws, judges have little choice but to impose a mandatory death penalty. Anyone caught with more than 15g of heroin is presumed to be trafficking, and once found guilty, will almost certainly be hanged.
Chun Yin is not alone. A long string of drug mules have been strung up in the island republic The issue has come to the fore now in particular in the wake of the prosecution of a British author, Alan Shadrake, for allegedly insulting Singapore in his book Once a Jolly Hangman for its eager use of the hangman's noose in a way that …

Bahrain seeks death sentence for protesters on trial

(Reuters) - Bahrain is seeking death penalty for a group of protesters accused of killing two policemen during anti-government demonstrations in the Gulf island kingdom, state media reported on Monday.
The government has stamped the demonstrations in a security crackdown since February when mainly Shi'ite protesters took to the streets demanding more say in the Sunni-ruled country's affairs.
Security forces have arrested hundreds of people since then and a number of them died while in official custody. Hundreds of mostly Shi'ite workers have been sacked from government jobs and state-linked companies, rights and opposition groups say.
On Sunday, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said the military prosecutor would seek the death sentence for seven men accused of killing the policemen at the Lower National Safety Court.
It quoted the prosecutor as saying the men had "committed their crime for terrorist reasons." It gave no other details of the incident.
BNA added the defendants…

Australian man Michael Sacatides jailed for 18 years in Indonesia

Australian man Michael Sacatides has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being found guilty of smuggling 1.7kg of methamphetamine into Bali.
The panel of judges presiding over the case in the Denpasar District Court today found the 43-year-old guilty, while also increasing the sentence by 2 years compared to a request entered by prosecutors 2 weeks ago.
He had initially been facing the possibility of a death sentence for smuggling $A390,000 worth of methamphetamine, also known as ice, into Bali from Thailand.
Sacatides was arrested at Bali's international airport on October 1 last year when customs officers noticed the drugs concealed in a hidden compartment in the suitcase he was carrying when he arrived on a flight from Bangkok.
The kickboxing trainer from Sydney's west has always maintained his innocence, telling investigators at the time of his arrest that he had borrowed the luggage from a man known as Akaleshi Tripathi, whom he knew from Bangkok, where he had been liv…

Man hanged in west of Iran

Iran Human Rights, April 24: One man was hanged in the prison of Kermanshah west of Iran, reported the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
The man who was identified as "A. Gol-Mohammadi", was convicted of traficking 170 kilos of opium, 63 kilos of heroin and 87 kilos of Hashish, according to the report.
The hanging took place early Friday morning April 22th.
According to the official Iranian sources at least 9 people were hanged last week, among them 8 public hangings.
The Norwegian government condemned the public hangings in Iran last week.
Source: Iran Human Rights, April 25, 2011 - [فارسى] _________________________ Use the tags below or the search engine at the top of this page to find updates, older or related articles on this Website.

Singapore: Families of death row inmates gather at private forum

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The closed-door meeting (left) addressed an issue not many in Singapore consider worrying enough to talk about: drugs and the death penalty. But the room was packed as more than 40 showed up to listen and share their views at a public forum on Saturday.
Among them, relatives of six people sentenced to hang in Singapore and Malaysia for drug-related offences. These are six separate cases and prior to the forum, some of the family members were not aware that other people shared their plight. But by the end of the evening, one thing became alarmingly clear – the death row inmates all came from a relatively disadvantaged section of society.
Malaysian human rights lawyer Ngeow Chow Ying was the first to speak. She focused on the case of 28-year old Malaysian, Cheong Chun Yin, a drug mule whose execution is imminent.
Cheong (right) was convicted of trafficking 2.7 kg of heroin into Singapore in 2008. When he was caught, he told investigators from the Central Narcotics Board he thought he was c…