Showing posts from September, 2011


‘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.

China executes man after rare retrial

Chinese police officers rehearsing executions September 29, 2011: a man convicted of killing a young woman and her 3-year-old brother after his offer of marriage was refused was executed in Zhaotong city, Yunnan province, according to the local court. Li Changkui, 29, was executed by the Zhaotong Intermediate People's Court after the Supreme People's Court (SPC) approved the death penalty, as every execution is subject to SPC review. Li pled guilty to raping 19-year-old Wang Jiafei before killing her and her brother Wang Jiahong in the village of Yingge in May 2009 in Yunnan. The execution came after the Yunnan Provincial Higher People's Court sentenced Li to death in August, after he was tried for the third time. The sentence overturned a lenient one made by the same court, which sparked public outcry demanding that Li be sentenced to death. The SPC supported the verdict the Provincial Higher Court made after the second retrial, saying that all the trial procedur

Troy Davis's execution 'should not occur in the 21st century'

Myuran Sukumaran (left) Andrew Chan (right) The President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of Western Australia has called the execution of United States man, Troy Davis, "barbaric" and says all countries should move to abolish capital punishment altogether. Mr Davis protested his innocence in his dying minutes before United States authorities administered the lethal injection at 11.08am, Georgia time. The 42-year-old Georgia man was executed 20 years after he was convicted of the fatal shooting of a police officer and despite a plea for clemency from almost a million people worldwide. Phil Urquhart, of the CLAWA, said Australia will soon be faced with the similar situation when two of the Bali Nine, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, face their upcoming executions in Indonesia. The Sydney pair was among nine Australians caught trying to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin through Bali, Indonesia which carries a death sentence for drug smuggling. "There's only a hand

Bahrain jails medics, protester gets death penalty

DUBAI — A special court in Bahrain on Thursday sentenced a Shiite protester to death and another to life in jail after convicting them of killing a policeman, the BNA state news agency said. The same court also sentenced 20 Shiite medics to between five and 15 years in prison for their roles in a month-long protest which the authorities quashed in mid-March. The national safety court was set up under a three-month quasi-emergency law declared by King Hamad ahead of the mid-March crackdown on the protest led by the Shiite majority of the Sunni-ruled Gulf nation. Ali Yusof al-Taweel was sentenced to death and Ali Mahdi to life in prison for running over policeman Ahmed al-Mreyssi in the Shiite area of Sitra south of Manama, during unrest that followed the quashing of the protest, BNA said, quoting military general prosecutor Yusof Flaifel. Thirteen medics were sentenced to 15 years in jail, two others to 10 years and five to five years, including several women, he added. The medics

Death penalty case set for USS Cole defendant

A senior Pentagon official Wednesday referred the first death penalty case under President Obama for trial by military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was charged in April by military prosecutors with murder, terrorism and other violations of the laws of war for his role in the October 2000 al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. Under military rules, the Pentagon official, known as the Convening Authority, independently examines the charges filed by military prosecutors and decides whether the defendant will be tried on all, some of none of the charges. In Nashiri’s case, the Convening Authority, Ret. Admiral Bruce MacDonald, forwarded the capital charges sworn by prosecutors. Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent, is one of 15 high-value detainees held at Guantanamo, and prosecutors allege that he was “in charge of the planning and preparation” of the Cole attack. Two suicide bombers in a small boat pulled alongside the Navy destroyer in the port

AI: Surge in Executions in Saudi Arabia

Eight men on death row have been executed in Saudi Arabia since 5 September, representing a dramatic increase in the number of executions. It is feared that more executions could be carried out at any time. Since the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, executions have resumed in Saudi Arabia at an alarming rate. The authorities have announced the execution of eight inmates, including three foreign nationals, since 5 September. Amnesty international has the names of more than 100 prisoners, most of them foreign nationals, who are currently on death row in Saudi Arabia for alleged drugs-related offenses. Most are said to have been sentenced to death in trials that failed to meet international standards for fair trial; some apparently were not assisted by a defense lawyer or other legal assistance. Death sentences imposed for drugs-related offenses do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes" embodied in international standards such as the UN Safeguards. These guarant

Gaile Owens granted parole

Gaile Owens Gaile Owens will be released on parole after the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole voted to free her after a quarter-century in prison, according to Tennessee Department of Correction records. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen said Gaile Owens has been given a second chance now that the state has granted her parole. Bredesen commuted Owens' death sentence to life in prison in July 2010 and today four members of the seven-member Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole agreed she should be released early. “I certainly hope that she gets her life together now,'' Bredesen said. Owens' son Stephen Owens said today was a "beautiful day.'' "I am grateful to the parole board for granting parole to my mother, Gaile Owens, after 26 years in prison. One year ago today was the date that Mom was to be executed had Gov. Phil Bredesen not commuted her sentence. I will always be grateful to Gov. Bredesen, to my mother’s legal team, and to the thousan

The Controversial Willingham Case: What Rick Perry Knew and When

On the day in 2004 that her first cousin Cameron Todd Willingham was scheduled to be executed in Texas, Patricia Cox had good reason to believe he was innocent. Willingham was convicted of murder for killing his three daughters in a late-1991 house fire following a prosecution that was based almost entirely on a forensic fire analysis performed by an assistant fire chief and a state deputy fire marshal in the days after the blaze. Two weeks before Willingham’s execution date, though, Cox managed to get famed arson analyst Gerald Hurst to take a fresh look at the case. Working pro bono, Hurst reviewed the evidence and drafted a study that devastated the original findings. While Hurst’s conclusions relied on his own skills, arson forensics had become far more advanced and standardized in the previous 13 years. “A contemporary fire origin and cause analyst might well wonder how anyone could make so many critical errors in interpreting the evidence,” Hurst’s report began. Hurst found t

Iran: Man hanged in Qom

Iran Human Rights, September 28: One prisoner was hanged in the central prison of Qom (south of Tehran) early this morning reported the Iranain state media. According to the state-run news agencies Fars and Mehr, the prisoner identified as "M.F." who was convicted of buying and keeping 1572 grams and 800 miligrams of crack, and participation in buying and keeping 2435 grams of crack. The prisoner was arrested in October 2009 and sentenced to death by the revolutionary court of Qom in May 2010. The charges have not been confirmed by independent sources. Source: Iran Human Rights , Sept. 29, 2011

China's debate on the death penalty becomes increasingly open

Chinese police officers rehearsing executions Calls for death penalty reform in China are growing, but so is the ability of the public to pressure courts into changing sentences perceived as too lenient – a development some say verges on mob justice. Li Changkui , a southern Chinese farmer charged with raping and murdering a teenage girl before killing the girl’s 3-year-old brother, was tried for the 3rd time in a Chinese court late last month. Both the evidence and charges against him were virtually the same as those of his previous trial, but this time he was sentenced to death. Months earlier, the Yunnan Provincial High Court had given Mr. Li a lighter sentence tantamount to life imprisonment – overturning a lower court’s death sentence. But the high court’s leniency sparked a massive public outcry demanding that Li be sentenced to death. “If Li Changkui doesn’t die, there is no law in China!” a commenter in an online forum wrote. It was this onslaught of public pressure that

Florida executes Manuel Valle

Mabuel Valle A Florida man convicted of killing a police officer during a traffic stop 33 years ago has been executed at the Florida State Prison. Manuel Valle, 61, was administered a lethal injection and pronounced dead at 7:14 p.m. Wednesday, the governor's office reported. Valle was the 1st Florida inmate to face execution using the state's newly revised mix of lethal drugs, a concoction that faced legal challenges which twice delayed carrying out the death sentence. Valle fatally shot Coral Gables officer Louis Pena on April 2, 1978, after Pena stopped Valle for a traffic violation while driving a stolen car, according to court records. He also shot fellow officer Gary Spell, who survived and would testify against Valle in court. Spell testified that when he arrived the day of the shooting, Valle was seated in Pena's patrol car. As Pena was checking the license plate of the car Valle had been driving, Valle walked back to the car, reached inside and then walked ba

Another Troy Davis in Missouri

Reggie Clemons faces execution in Missouri with no more evidence of wrong doing than Troy Davis. Like Davis, there is no physical evidence; there are police coercion allegations and a stacked jury in the Clemons case according to Amnesty International that called for public Tuesday to stop this execution. Clemons, who has been on death row for 18 years, was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice to a 1991 murder. "There was no physical evidence and since allegations have arisen of police coercion, prosecutorial misconduct, and a ‘stacked’ jury in the Clemons case," reported Amnesty International Tuesday. "Despite so many lingering questions, Missouri is still planning to execute Reggie Clemons." The Clemons is yet another case illustrating the many flaws of the United States death penalty system. "Of the 4 co-defendents, Marlin Gray and Reggie Clemons were sentenced to death, and Antonio Richardson was sentenced to life," the St. Louis Ameri

Oklahoma to continue last meal tradition for condemned inmates

"Last meal: Ruben Cantu" by  Kate MacDonald Oklahoma will continue to grant special last meal requests for death row inmates before they're executed. Despite a high-profile move by Texas prison officials to end the long-standing tradition , Oklahoma will continue to grant last meal requests to death row inmates before they're executed. Last week, the head of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced that death row inmates in the Lone Star State will no longer be granted opulent last meal requests after a convicted murderer didn't touch a large offering provided by a Texas prison. Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was executed Wednesday for the June 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, reportedly ordered a massive feast for his last meal, including two chicken-fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge wi

Iran: acid thrower to be blinded

September 26, 2011: Iran's supreme court upheld a sentence of blinding in one eye for a waiter who hurled acid at a man five years ago in a plot hatched by the victim's brother-in-law, Shargh newspaper reported. The 26-year-old waiter, identified by his first name, Mohammad, had confessed he was hired to throw acid at the victim, Vali, in return for around one million rials (less than $100), the report said. Vali, who was injured and blinded in one eye, asked for ' qesas ' -- an eye for an eye style of justice -- and that Mohammad be blinded in retribution. After much deliberation, the panel of judges presiding the case ordered the attacker to be blinded without acid in one eye and pay blood money for Vali's other injuries, the report said. Source: AFP, Sept. 26, 2011 Related articles: Death Penalty News: Iranian to be  blinded  with acid for doing same  ... Dec 15, 2008 TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- An Iranian woman, blinded by a jilted stalker who threw acid in her f

Florida execution: drug firm protests to governor over lethal injection

Doctors warn Rick Scott that use of experimental barbiturate to kill Manuel Valle, 61, could lead to extreme suffering. The head of a Danish drug company has written to Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, to protest about the use of one of its anaesthetics in the execution of a Cuban national scheduled to take place on Wednesday. Staffan Schuberg, president of Lundbeck, the manufacturers of pentobarbital under the trademark Nembutal, has sent 2 letters to the governor expressing his "adamant" opposition to what would be Florida's 1st use of the drug as part of a lethal injection. Barring an eleventh-hour stay, the 3-drug cocktail will be administered to Manuel Valle, 61, at 3pm for the 1989 murder of a police officer. Pentobarbital is increasingly being used by some of the 35 states that still practise executions as an alternative to the anaesthetic sodium thiopental, whose only producer in the US, Hospira, has suspended supply in protest at its use to kill people. Th