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Showing posts from October, 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…

Pharma giant Hospira fails to act on paralysis drug responsible for ‘torturous’ executions

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Global pharmaceutical firm, Hospira, is now the only company supplying US execution chambers with the paralysis drug used in lethal injections. Pancuronium bromide is the second drug in the lethal injection ‘cocktail’ and serves to paralyse the prisoner before the lethal dose of potassium chloride is administered. Israeli manufacturer, Teva, recently became the latest manufacturer to exit the execution drug trade, leaving Hospira solely responsible for the US supply of the drug. According to expert anaesthesiologist, Dr. Mark Heath, Pancuronium bromide serves no medical purpose in the lethal injection procedure, but rather a ‘cosmetic’ purpose, serving to mask any possible suffering of the inmate. If not properly anesthetised by the first drug in the cocktail, a prisoner will be paralysed by the pancuronium bromide, unable to move, speak or even motion that something has gone wrong. Dr. Heath attests ‘there is no dispute that the asphyxiation caused by pancur…

Perry Displays Varied Stance Toward Crime

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AUSTIN — By the spring of 2004, when Rick Perry had been governor for over three years, the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole had yet to recommend to him that a single death row inmate be spared.
That May, though, the board’s chairwoman allowed the lawyer for Kelsey Patterson to personally present to her an 11th-hour plea that the inmate’s execution be blocked because of his severe mental illness.
Twelve years earlier, Mr. Patterson had murdered two upstanding residents of Palestine, Tex., for no apparent reason and then fled to a nearby yard where he stripped to his brown socks, gesticulating and hollering until the police arrived.
Juries had previously found Mr. Patterson, who had paranoid schizophrenia, incompetent to stand trial for other senseless assaults. After the double murder, however, he not only was tried but also testified, ranting about electronic implants in proceedings so tumultuous that he was repeatedly ejected from the courtroom or gagged with duct tape.
When the parole…

Saudi Arabia beheads two convicted murderers

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October 27, 2011: Saudi Arabia beheaded two men convicted of murder, one who ran over his victims and the other who deliberately hit his victim's car, the interior ministry announced. Mohammed al-Harbi, a Saudi national, was convicted of "intentionally running over" and killing a Saudi couple—Rabih al-Asiri and his wife Nasila Asiri, the Saudi interior ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
He was beheaded in the kingdom's western province of Qunfudah.
In a separate statement, the ministry said that another man, Abdullah al-Jahdali, was also beheaded in another western province, Al-Laith, after he was found guilty of intentionally hitting Fahd al-Jahdali's car and killing him.
The executions bring to 67 the number of those beheaded this year in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom.
Source: Agence France-Presse, October 27, 2011

Willingham inquiry ends, but effects linger

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A state investigation into the science used to convict and execute Cameron Todd Willingham came to a quiet close Friday, but its results might echo across the justice system and the nation's death penalty debate for years to come.
Making final changes to its report on the Willingham case, the Texas Forensic Science Commission signed off on a document acknowledging that unreliable fire science played a role in the Corsicana man's conviction for the murder-by-arson deaths of his three young daughters in 1991. He was executed in 2004.
Following commonly held beliefs now known to be wrong, arson investigators testified that the Willingham house fire was intentionally set using a liquid accelerant, the commission concluded.
Modern fire experts working for the commission and for the New York-based Innocence Project, which is representing Willingham posthumously, have determined that none of the more than 20 "arson indicators" identified by fire investigators in 1991 are relia…

Israeli party ponders capital punishment bill to prevent another prisoner swap

The recent prisoner swap that saw Israel release several hundred Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit brought joy to many Israelis, but consternation to many others.
How could prisoners be released who had “blood on their hands” they demanded, referring to the fact that a large proportion of the Palestinians freed were serving life sentences (some of them multiple life sentences) for their role in terror attacks that killed Israeli civilians.
Since the exchange, several efforts have been mounted to try to ensure that such releases never take place again. One effort involves an attempt to draft a set of rules by which any future Israeli government must operate in the event an Israeli citizen is held hostage.
Another effort has been taken by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to try to ensure that no Israeli soldier is ever taken prisoner. The new directive is to the effect that Israeli soldiers must fire upon any enemy forces attempting to abduct …

Japan Minister Must Not Cave in to Pressure on Death Penalty: AI

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Japan’s justice minister should not sign execution warrants, Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network said today, following the minister’s announcement that he does not intend to end capital punishment, despite saying last month that he would not approve executions.
Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka said Friday he would look at each death row case individually, after a prominent politician reportedly had encouraged him to exercise his power to authorize executions.
"After showing reluctance to sign execution warrants last month when he first took office, it is deeply alarming that Minister Hideo Hiraoka now seems to be under pressure to approve executions despite his own calls for caution," said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Asia and the Pacific. "The minister must stand by his original commitment which was to suspend executions until Japan’s application of the death penalty can be more carefully considered."
Chief Cabi…

Morocco court sentences Marrakesh bomber to death

The mastermind of a deadly bomb attack on a Moroccan cafe in April has been sentenced to death.
The court in Rabat convicted Adel Othmani of organising the attack on the Argana cafe in Marrakesh, which killed 17 people - most of them tourists.
Eight of his associates were given jail sentences for their roles.
Eight French nationals died in the attack, along with two Moroccans and people from Britain, Canada, Portugal, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
It was the deadliest attack in the North African kingdom since bombings in the coastal city of Casablanca in 2003 killed 45 people, including suicide attackers.
Prosecutors told the court that Othmani disguised himself as a guitar-carrying hippie, and planted two bombs in a cafe in Djemaa El-Fna, the tourist heart of Marrakesh.
He then detonated the explosives using a mobile phone.
The motive for the attack was unclear.
The authorities had suggested that Othmani and his accomplices were "admirers of al-Qaeda".
Source: BBC News, October 2…

UK wants 'reinvigorated' Commonwealth, end to discrimination against gays and scrapping of the death penalty

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Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague on Thursday called for an end to discrimination against gays and the scrapping of the death penalty as he urged the Commonwealth to embrace reform.
Calling on the assembled leaders to heed the "clarion call" for reform, Hague said the 54-member Commonwealth grouping should act as a greater force for democracy and prosperity and speak out on pressing social issues.
"It is the view of the United Kingdom that the next days can and should be defining ones for the Commonwealth," he told a people's forum in Perth, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to begin on Friday.
Speaking at a meeting of Commonwealth leaders, he said the group tasked with developing options to reform the bloc - an Eminent Persons Group commissioned in 2009 - had found a need for change.
"And their clarion call for reform is one we should not ignore, whatever the precise details of what we agree to do," he said.
"The case …

Taiwan pays compensation for wrongful execution

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President Ma Ying-jeou has apologised to the family of the executed man
Taiwan's defence ministry says it will pay $4.4m (£2.7m) in compensation to the relatives of an air force private who was wrongly executed in 1997.
Chiang Kuo-ching was found guilty of raping and killing a 5-year-old girl, but in September this year a military court overturned the conviction posthumously.
The court said Mr Chiang was innocent and had been tortured into confessing.
The case has reignited debate in Taiwan about the death penalty.
Mr Chiang was working at a military base in 1996 when the girl, whose mother also worked there, was found dead.
After he was executed, his parents spent years campaigning to clear his name.
'Lessons learned'
The case was reopened earlier this year and investigators found no evidence that Mr Chiang had been at the scene of the crime.
Another man with a history of sexual abuse has since been arrested.
A lawyer for Mr Chiang's mother said the family accepted the compensa…

Verdict in Morocco blasts case expected Friday

The trial of 9 people accused over an April bomb attack that killed 17 in Marrakesh neared closure Thursday as a lawyer for the alleged mastermind insisted his client was innocent.
Prosecutors say Adil al-Atmani and eight accomplices orchestrated the April 28 blast at a cafe packed with European tourists, but defence lawyer Hassan Mouhib told the court in Sale, near the capital Rabat, that the government had not proved its case.
A final hearing is set for Friday with a verdict expected later in the day against the suspects who all deny guilt in the case.
Mouhib asked the tribunal to be "fair" in judging his client Atmani, who initially admitted to his role in the bombing but later retracted his confession, claiming he had been set up.
Prosecutors last week said Atmani and co-accused Hakim al Dah should be sentenced to death.
But lawyers representing the victims' families previously asked the court to sentence the accused to life in prison and not death, partly to deprive them…

Officials ask Perry to allow DNA tests for death row inmate

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With convicted killer Henry Skinner's execution less than two weeks away, a group of legislators and former prosecutors and judges on Thursday called on Gov. Rick Perry for prompt DNA testing of items that could help clear the one-time paralegal of the triple murder that sent him to death row.
Skinner, 49, consistently has contended he was too impaired by alcohol and codeine to have fatally bludgeoned his girlfriend and fatally stabbed her two adult sons in a 1993 New Year's Eve rampage at the couple's Pampa home.
Execution set Nov. 9
Skinner, who came within an hour of execution in March 2010, before the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay, has petitions to obtain the DNA testing before state and federal courts. He is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 9.
In the letter to Perry, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Gray County District Attorney Lynn Switzer, the current and former officials expressed "grave and growing concerns about the state's stubborn refusal to…

Rival hits Perry on death penalty

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Former New Mexico governor and current Republican presidential hopeful Gary E. Johnson said he saw the dangers of the death penalty up close during his 2 terms in office - and says he is convinced Texas has executed innocent people.
In a wide-ranging interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times this week, Mr. Johnson, who is mounting a long-shot bid for GOP nomination, said his current opposition to the death penalty stems from having once pushed a bill to curtail appeals that he modeled on Texas law, but which, he now says, would have led in at least one case to the execution of innocent persons in a gang-murder case.
“If my legislation would have passed, they would have been put to death, and they would have been innocent. And I believe Texas has done the same,” he said, pointing to the neighboring state run by Gov. Rick Perry, who is also running for the presidential nomination.
He said he does not know for certain Texas has executed innocent people, but is convinced i…

Texas executes Frank Garcia

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Former San Antonio street gang member Frank Garcia was executed Thursday evening for fatally shooting a veteran police officer who was trying to resolve a domestic dispute that also left Garcia’s wife dead.
The 39-year-old Garcia shouted “Thank you Yahweh” over and over until he lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead at 7:02 p.m. Thursday.
The lethal injection, the 12th this year in the nation’s most active death penalty state of Texas, came some 30 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Garcia’s appeals. His attorneys argued Garcia was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. They also argued lawyers earlier in the appeals process and at his trial in 2002 were ineffective in failing to properly address those mental impairment issues.
He was condemned for the slaying of Hector Garza, 48, a father of five who had served 25 years on the San Antonio police force when he was killed March 29, 2001.
Garza was shot while responding, for a second t…

Why Innocence Didn't Matter for Troy Davis

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ATLANTA, Georgia, Oct 26, 2011 (IPS) - "Innocence matters" is one of the slogans used by activists opposing the U.S. state of Georgia's execution of Troy Davis, up until the day the sentence was carried out by lethal injection on Sep. 21.
It seems like stating the obvious that innocence matters in the criminal justice system, especially when someone's life is on the line in a death penalty case. At least, innocence should always matter. But does it in practice?
Davis was convicted of killing police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. Yet following his conviction, seven of nine witnesses against him recanted their testimony, two witnesses implicated another person as the killer, and two of the original jurors who found Davis guilty came forward to oppose the execution.
No forensic evidence presented at trial indicated that Davis was the shooter.
Martina Correia, Davis's sister, explained the significance of the phrase in a 2008 video interview with Black Agenda Report.
&quo…

California: Death penalty foes launch initiative drive

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Capital punishment opponents launched a drive Tuesday to place an initiative on the November 2012 ballot to replace the death penalty in California with a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
Organizers must collect 504,000 valid voter signatures by the March 18 deadline to qualify the initiative for the election. They've dubbed their measure the Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement for California Act.
"Californians are ready for the SAFE California Act because now they realize we have wasted literally billions of dollars on a failed death penalty system," said Natasha Minsker, statewide campaign manager for the effort. "It's time to take our resources and put them instead toward public safety."
Minsker, an attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California who has long specialized in opposing executions, said the campaign has 800 volunteers and expects to have 2,000 by March. She estimated the campaign to qualif…

U.S.: Let Them Eat Nothing – No Lunch for Prisoners

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A growing number of U.S. prisons are taking steps to shatter any illusion that the role of prisons is to rehabilitate rather than merely punish. Eliminating lunch on weekends is gaining ground. The New York Times recently reported that Texas prisons scrapped mid-day meals on Saturday and Sunday last April. Still available are “brunch” from 5 to 7 a.m. and dinner between 4 and 6:30 p.m. Then last month they chopped last meals for inmates scheduled for execution.
Texas is not alone in skirting American Correctional Association standards by reducing the number of meals served. Ohio, Arizona, Georgia and Indiana all operate their food services on reduced schedules. Georgia inmates go three days without lunch, Friday through Sunday.
Slashing food budgets may create other financial headaches. On October 11th, inmates in a privately operated Oklahoma prison rioted over the poor quality of food. Kentucky prisoners rioted in 2009 when they were served soup filled with worms and burritos containi…

Iran: Man hanged in public in Gharchak (west of Tehran)

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1 man was hanged publicly in the town of Gharchak (Qarchak; Tehran province) early this morning.
According to the state run Iranian news agency Fars, a 29 years old man identified as Bakhshali Asgari was hanged convicted of murdering a 9 year-old girl and her grandmother, sexual abuse of the girl and stealing the woman’s jewelry in 2009.
The man was hanged publicly at 06:16 AM in front of tens of people. He had also been sentenced to 74 lashes and the sentenced was implemented in the prison yesterday.
Based on the reports from the official Iranian sources, so far 35 people have been executed, seven of them publicly, in the month of October 2011
Source: Iran Human Rights, October 27, 2011 - [فارسى]


THIS MUST STOP!!!















Photos: Iran-Resist

Bakhash-Ali Askari Hanged While Children Watched

HRANA News Agency – This morning, Wednesday, October 26, 2011, Bakhash-Ali Askari was hanged in public in Qarchak, Tehran Province, while the young and the old watched.Bakhash-Ali Askari was convicted of murder an…

A Buddhist perspective on the death penalty

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Buddhists, along with a growing number of members of other religions, believe that the death penalty is fundamentally unethical. From the Buddhist perspective, non-violence, or not harming others, is the heart of the Buddha’s teachings.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama signed Amnesty International’s pledge against the death penalty several years ago, and has spoken out against it on multiple occasions. He opposes the death penalty because it punishes the person and not the action.
Buddhism does allow ending the life of another when it is done in self-defense, and the argument could be made that, sometimes, capital punishment could be viewed as a society’s attempt at self-defense. But when there are other means available to prevent a person from harming others, such as imprisonment, it would seem that the less lethal option should be favored.
Countering violence with violence only results in more violence. The true enemy is our own self-cherishing and self-grasping tendencies, and the negati…

Saudi Arabia: Emirati pays over $4M to spare killer's life

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October 26, 2011: in Saudi Arabia, an unknown UAE donor gave more than $4 million (Dh14.69m) to save a teenage Saudi killer from the gallows and allow the boy to return to his family after awaiting execution in prison for many years, a Saudi newspaper said.
The family of Faisal Al Ruwaili in the northwestern town of Jouf has managed to raise around SR2 million ($540,000) while it has also received some funds into a special bank account set up for donations, 'Sharq' Arabic language daily said.
The victim’s family had demanded diya (blood money) SR20m, prompting the defendant’s family to appeal for help.
“A UAE benevolent person donated more than SR16m to close the account, which now has SR20m, the diya demanded by the victim’s relatives…this person refused to disclose his or her name and sources said they believe she is a woman,” the paper said.
“Sharq is pleased to convey the good news to Failal’s family and wishes that God the Almighty preserve and protect this person who eve…

California: The Next Death Penalty Battleground

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Georgia's decision to go forward with the execution of Troy Davis in the face of an international outcry calling for time, clarity and justice has, once again, galvanized anti-death penalty consciousness here at home. What passes for fairness in parts of this country, and make no mistake, we're talking about "parts of this country," is the issue. 16 states in the U.S. have no death penalty, 4 of them having done away with it since 2007. Of the remaining 34, some use it so rarely their citizens forget it's actually on the books. A quick glance tells us the most active killing states comprise the "Old South," and a look at the racial makeup of death row today suggests to many that it is a relic of slavery. But a closer look tells us even more.
One of the reasons the death penalty was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 was the arbitrariness of its application. 2 identical crimes committed in the same state often resulted in different penalties: one …