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Showing posts from December, 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…

China Executes 12 People in Single Day

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China has executed 12 people in a single day, including a man who bombed a local tax office.
The official Xinhua News Agency says Liu Zhuiheng was convicted and sentenced to death for detonating explosives outside a tax office in Changsha city in Hunan province in July 2010. Four people were killed and 17 others wounded. Xinhua says the 52-year-old was venting anger over business losses.
Xinhua says China's supreme court approved the death sentence of Liu and 11 others Thursday. All death sentences are sent to the supreme court for review and are usually carried out immediately if approved.
The other 11 people were convicted of crimes including murder and robbery.
China executes more people than any other country — around 4,000 people a year.
Source: AP, December 29, 2011

Iran: Two hanged in public in Qazvin

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Iran Human Rights, December 29: Two young men were hanged publicly in Qazvin (Ghazvin, west of Tehran) this morning December 29.
According to Jamejamonline (Iranian state television website) two young men identified as "Mohammad" and "Ali" (age not mentioned) were hanged publicly in the Navab-e-Jonubi Street of Qazvin this morning. The men were convicted of murdering four members of a family in March 2011.
According to the official and unofficial reports at least 16 people have been executed since the Chrstmas day (25 december 2011).
Source: Iran Human Rights, December 29, 2011 - [فارسى]

North Korea: Prospects of a Purge

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(...) While Kim Il-sung was revered by his people for fighting Japanese colonial rule, the halo surrounding his successors has steadily dimmed to such an extent that his grandson, the new ruler, will have to rely on people such as his uncle, Jang, to hold on to power, at least in the short term.
Official media in the North have built Kim Jong-un, a jowly and rotund man in his late 20s, into a leader worthy of inheriting the crown, naming him "respected general," "great successor," "outstanding leader" and "supreme commander."
This year, dissident groups based in South Korea, citing North Korean refugees and businessmen working in China, linked the youngest Kim to a crackdown on business activities and a tougher policy on people seeking to flee from North Korea.
Those reports could not be verified independently, but would again suggest that further repression is more likely than an economic opening under the new man.
It also gives little hope for the…

Death Penalty in Asia-Pacific

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The death penalty combined with unfair trials is a hallmark of the justice system in far too many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, with 14 countries executing more people than all the rest of the world combined.
Those 14 countries - including China, Pakistan, India and Japan - cover 95 per cent of the region's population, though just a minority of the 41 countries. (India hasn't executed anyone since 2004, but nearly 400 people are believed to be on death row.)
A report from an anti-death-penalty group in Asia makes for bleak reading. Forced confessions are a regular feature of death-penalty cases in Afghanistan, China, Japan, India and Indonesia, says the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, which formed in 2006, with civil-society members in 23 countries. A confession may produce a conviction and a death sentence even in the absence of other evidence. Access to lawyers is spotty and in some countries it is not even possible to appeal a death sentence or conviction.
The positiv…

Alabama is near the top in imposing, conducting the death penalty

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Alabama ranks second in the nation for the number of executions it conducted in 2011 and is tied for third in death sentences imposed this year, statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center show.
"Alabama is one of the leading death penalty states in the country," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington-based DPIC. "It is a leader in executions and death sentences, both in absolute numbers and per capita."
Alabama ranks 23rd nationally in population but has the country's fifth-largest death-row population. Its 55 executions since 1976, when a four-year national moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, puts Alabama sixth among states allowing capital punishment.
Alabama put six murderers to death by lethal injection in 2011, accounting for 14 percent of the 43 executions nationwide, according to the annual year-end report by the clearinghouse on death penalty statistics.
Texas, with 13 executions this year, …

Saudi beheads man for murder

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RIYADH: A Saudi man was beheaded on Wednesday by the sword in Riyadh for murder, the interior ministry said.
Salman al-Ghamedi was found guilty of stabbing to death another Saudi, Ahmed al-Qahtani, following a dispute, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
The beheading brings to 76 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year, based on an AFP count.
In September, Amnesty International called on the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom where 140 people were on death row to establish an "immediate moratorium on executions."
The London-based rights watchdog said Saudi Arabia was one of a minority of states which voted against a UN General Assembly resolution last December calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, homosexuality and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
Amnesty says Saudi Arabia executed 27 convicts in 2010, compar…

Japan has year without executions

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JAPAN has not executed anyone so far in 2011, the government says, setting it up to be the first year in nearly two decades the country has not carried out a single death sentence.
However, the number of inmates on death row stands at a post-war high of 129 as a debate on the rights and wrongs of capital punishment continues.
In a legal quirk, executions - always carried out by hanging in Japan - are banned over the New Year period, with a moratorium between December 29 and January 3 as well as on weekends and public holidays.
A justice ministry spokesman confirmed late this afternoon that there had been no execution in the year 2011 until December 27.
"We have not been informed of any execution so far during this day (December 28)."
Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka has not signalled his intention to order the execution of any inmate in the year's remaining days, the major daily Asahi Shimbun reported.
"I don't think it has a great significance in itself," Hiraoka …

Iran seeks death for American accused of spying

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TEHRAN: An American man accused by Iran of working for the CIA could face the death penalty, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Tuesday.
In a closed court hearing, the prosecution applied for capital punishment, the report said, because the suspect, identified as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, “admitted that he received training in the United States and planned to imply that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign countries” after returning to the US.
The prosecutor said Hekmati entered Iran’s intelligence department three times.
The report said Hekmati repeated a confession broadcast on state TV Dec. 18.
Under the Iranian law spying can lead to death penalty only in military cases .
The Fars report said Hekmati’s lawyer, who was identified only by his surname, Samadi, denied the charges. He said Iranian intelligence blocked Hekmati from infiltrating, and under the Iranian law, intention to infiltrate is not a crime.
The lawyer said Hekmati was deceived by the CIA. No date for t…

Oregon reportedly trying to find buyer for execution drugs

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The State of Oregon is looking to sell $18,000 worth of lethal drugs now than Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a moratorium on the death penalty during his time in office.
The Bend Bulletin reports that the drugs expire within the next three years.
Some states have struggled to buy execution drugs because of supply shortages, regulations on importation and resistance among manufacturers to being associated with executions.
Oregon is working with a federally licensed reverse wholesaler to find a buyer.
Department of Corrections officials say they hope to recover at least some of the money spent to buy the drugs.
Kitzhaber last month, gave a reprieve to convicted killer Gary Haugen, who gave up his legal challenges and was scheduled to be executed.
Source: KBND, December 27, 2011
Related article: Death Penalty News: Oregon Governor Says He Will Block Executions Nov 23, 2011 John Kitzhaber of Oregon on Tuesday said he would halt the execution of a death row inmate scheduled for next month…

Saudi Arabia: Murder charges unproven, three RI maids freed

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Three Indonesian maids who faced the death penalty for murder allegations are scheduled to return home in the next several days from Saudi Arabia.
Saudi prosecutors could not prove the charges and the maids' employers had accepted their apologies, Jumhur Hidayat, the head of the National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), said as reported by antaranews.com reported.
The women, housemaids all, were identified as Bayanah binti Banhawi, Jamilah Binti Abidin Rofi'i and Neneng Sunengsih binti Mamih.
Bayanah, 29, left for Riyadh on Jan.29, 2006. After two months, she was imprisoned on allegations that she murdered her employer’s four-year-old son.
Jamilah was accused of murdering her 80-year-old employer, while Neneng, 34, was charged with murdering her employer’s four-month-old baby.
The women will be returned home with the aid of the Foreign Ministry and the Task Force for Indonesian Migrant Workers who Face Death Penalty.
Source: The Jakarta…

Chief of Police: Abolishing The Death Penalty Creates More Resources For Police

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In Connecticut we’ve been forced to lay off state troopers and police officers in departments around the state. Like so many others, law enforcement in Connecticut we have been forced to tighten our belts and expected to maintain the same level of police services, with considerably less. This is unfortunate in any situation, but it is just absurd that we would pull officers from the streets and at the same time spend millions of dollars to have a death penalty system that has not been proven to prevent crime.
Connecticut’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis has estimated that we spend $4 million above and beyond the cost of life without the possibility of release to keep the death penalty on the books. That’s $4 million extra every single year, all this for a punishment that has only been handed out to 10 people in the last 40 years, and carried out only once. Believe me I can do a lot to prevent crime with $4 million.
I’m also troubled by the death penalty because of my work with h…

Iran hangs five for drug trafficking

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Tehran: Iran hanged five convicted drug traffickers in a prison in the northern city of Shahrud on Monday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The report did not give the identities or ages of the people sent to gallows but mentioned that they were from different Iranian cities.
The hangings bring to 277 the number of people put to death in Iran this year, according to an AFP tally based on media and official reports.
Human Rights Watch counted 388 executions in Iran in 2010.
Amnesty International put the figure at 252, ranking the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people put to death last year.
Iran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.
Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, homosexuality and adultery are among the crimes punishable by death in Iran.
Source: Agence France-Presse, December 26, 2011

Indonesia attempts to secure reprieve for Tuti Tursilawati

Tuti Tursilawati, 27, is an Indonesian migrant on death row. Her story is like many others: left to wander the parameters of Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory judicial system with sporadic aid from her own government, she agonizingly awaits to hear her fate: last-minute amnesty or execution via decapitation. Tuti faces execution for murdering her employer during an alleged rape incident. Reports revealed that the employer had abused her sexually since 2009, but Tuti fought back when he attempted to rape her in March 2010, striking him with a fatal blow.
Efforts to release migrants from the death penalty generally follow the same pattern: the migrant’s government appeals to the victim’s family for forgiveness, which often involves a “blood money” payment. Saudi government policy is to stay executions only if the conditions of forgiveness are met. In keeping with the pattern, former Indonesian president BJ Habibie landed in Riyadh Saturday to negotiate with the victim’s family,…

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to face death by stoning or hanging: semi-official ISNA news agency

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Authorities in Iran said Sunday they are again moving ahead with plans to execute a woman sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery conviction in a case that sparked an international outcry, but are considering whether to carry out the punishment by hanging instead.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is already behind bars, serving a 10-year sentence on a separate conviction in the murder of her husband. Amid the international outrage her case generated, Iran in July 2010 suspended plans to carry out her death sentence on the adultery conviction.
On Sunday, a senior judiciary official said experts were studying whether the punishment of stoning could be changed to hanging.
"There is no haste. ... We are waiting to see whether we can carry out the execution of a person sentenced to stoning by hanging or not," said Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of justice department of East Azerbaijan province, where Ashtiani is jailed.
"As soon as the result (of the investigation) is obtained, we…

Dausch: Florida's 1st execution for white-on-black murder

A hitchhiker accused of leaving a motorist on the side of a Sumter County road, hog-tied, raped and stomped to death, could become the first white to be executed for killing a black person in the state of Florida.
A 12-member jury, consisting of one black, took about 50 minutes earlier this month to decide on the death penalty for Carl Dausch, 53, in the death of Adrian Renard Mobley, a black man.
The 8-4 vote was one more than required to give Dausch death over life in prison.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, blacks have been executed in the murders of 254 white victims since a 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed states to resume use of the death penalty.
But only 17 whites have been executed on convictions of murdering black victims during the same time period. None of those executions have taken place in Florida.
According to Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, no white person has ever been executed for killing a black througho…

16 cases of overseas Filipino workers on death row ‘critical’

MANILA, Philippines—Of the 576 overseas Filipino workers facing the death penalty, 16 cases are considered “critical” by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Most of the 16 cases are in Asia and the Middle East, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez told the INQUIRER on Monday.
Hernandez did not provide other details about the OFWs on death row.
But he explained “cases are considered critical when the trial court in the host country has sentenced the accused to death and the Supreme Court of the Court of Appeals has affirmed the decision, or the trial court’s decision is still under review or appeal before the Supreme Court of Court of Appeals.”
Hernandez assured “all of the subject OFWs are provided with competent legal representation; that they are accorded their rights during arrest and trial; that they get assistance during the filing of their appeal to the court’s decision; that they get regular jail visits by consular representatives from our embassies and consulates abroad; and the same po…

Christmas Remembrance: Asia Bibi and Yousef Nadarkhani still facing the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy

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(...) We may also want to remember particularly at this time two additional people, Asia Bibi and Yousef Nadarkhani, whose imprisonment and death sentences crystallize the situation of many in the church.
Though the Iranian government denies it, Pastor Nadarkhani continues to face the death penalty for apostasy, that is, for having become a Christian. In a very unusual move, probably triggered by international attention to the case, the courts — after pronouncing a sentence of death — have twice referred the case to Ayatollah Khamenei, the country’s “Supreme Leader.” As yet, Khamenei has issued no decision. Christian Solidarity Worldwide states that it has received unconfirmed reports that any execution may be delayed for up to a year to allow time to convince Pastor Nadarkhani to renounce his faith.
In Pakistan, Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, still faces the death penalty for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed. Punjab governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz B…

Saudi Arabia: Endless debate over death penalty

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Despite western criticism, most urban dwellers in Saudi Arabia do not see this act of retribution as inhumane if the crime is ghastly in nature.
In Saudi Arabia as elsewhere, capital punishment is still being meted out to those proven guilty of a variety of crimes.
Serious crime
In that the crimes for capital punishment by the state are clearly defined — terrorism, drug-trafficking, kidnapping, armed robbery and rape — there exist crimes against people that can place the aggressor under the sword of the state or the mercy of the victim's family. The state often has no say in such matters.
Take the case of a homicide. If the perpetrator is proven guilty, the state demands his incarceration for a minimal time, while he awaits his fate based on the demands of the victim's relatives. In the case of a full pardon by the victim's family, he is let off scot-free. This is often the case when there is no indication or cause of pre-meditation for the crime.
Pardon can come in the form …

California chief justice urges reevaluating death penalty

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Reporting from San Francisco— Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who heads the state's judicial branch and its highest court, said in an interview that the death penalty is no longer effective in California and suggested she would welcome a public debate on its merits and costs.
During an interview in her chambers, as she prepared to close up shop for the holidays, the Republican appointee and former prosecutor made her first public statements about capital punishment a year after she took the helm of the state's judiciary and at a time when petitions are being gathered for an initiative to abolish the death penalty.
"I don't think it is working," said Cantil-Sakauye, elevated from the Court of Appeal in Sacramento to the California Supreme Court by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "It's not effective. We know that."
California's death penalty requires "structural change, and we don't have the money to create the kind of change that is n…