USA | States Continue to Oppose DNA Testing in Death Penalty Appeals, Attorneys Ask Why Don’t They Want to Learn the Truth?

The last 3 men scheduled for execution in Georgia said they did not commit the killing and that DNA testing that was not available at the time of trial could prove it. In 2 of the cases, victim family members supported the request for testing. Prosecutors opposed the requests, and the courts refused to allow the testing. 2 of the 3 men were executed, with doubts still swirling as to their guilt.
Shawn Nolan, a federal defender who represented Georgia prisoner Ray “Jeff” Cromartie, summed up the sentiments of the prisoners, families, and defense attorneys in these cases. “I’d like to know what the state is so scared of,” he said. “Why are they afraid of the truth? This is sad and so disturbing.”
“We have the capability of testing a wide range of forensic evidence that we couldn’t test in the past,” said Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham. “It is a powerful tool to get to the truth and to get important answers as to whether the criminal legal system has b…

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 all worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama, which was stormed by security forces after they drove protesters on March 16 out of the nearby Pearl Square -- the focal point of protests inspired by uprisings that have swept the Arab world.

The medics included 13 doctors, one dentist, nurses and paramedics.

BNA said the medics were tried for "forcefully occupying SMC... possessing unlicensed arms (one AK-47) and knives, incitement to overthrow the regime, seizing medical equipment, detaining policemen, and spreading false news."

They were also accused of "inciting hatred to the regime and insulting it, instigating hatred against another sect and obstructing the implementation of law, destroying public property and taking part in gatherings aimed at jeopardising the general security and committing crimes," BNA said.

"All these acts were done with a terrorist aim," it added.

A relative of one of the accused wrote in an emailed statement: "None of the accused medics attended today's hearing. Lawyers and some family members were present."

The 20 medics, many of whom had gone on hunger strike, were released on bail on September 8.

They were among a group of 47 medics rounded up in the wake of the heavy-handed crackdown on the protest, which also targeted Shiite villages across the Gulf archipelago.

Many medics claim to have been tortured in custody.

The national safety court has a mixed military and civil panel. But King Hamad last month promised that all Bahrainis in trials related to protests will see their verdicts issued by a civil court.

BNA said that those convicted on Thursday can appeal their verdicts in a civil court.

Authorities in the kingdom ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty have said that 24 people were killed when the protests were put down, most of them demonstrators. The opposition puts the death toll at 30.

Source: AFP, Sept. 29, 2011

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