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Showing posts from January, 2013

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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…

Lindsay Sandiford's Sister Fears She May Not Be Saved From Execution In Bali

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The sister of Lindsay Sandiford, the British grandmother sentenced to death by firing squad in Bali last week, fears that she cannot be saved from execution because of her inability to fund a lawyer.
Hilary Parsons has spent the last pennies of her savings to try and find Sandiford a lawyer to challenge her death sentence for drug smuggling, but cannot afford even the expenses of an Indonesian lawyer who she says has agreed to act for free.
Parsons spoke of her "terror" at the realisation that she alone must try and navigate the Indonesian appeals process, with no funds to pay legal representatives. "I can't imagine what we will do if we miss the opportunity to save Lindsay's life," she said in an interview published by Reprieve, the legal rights charity supporting Sandiford.
"Because Lindsay is unrepresented it is has fallen to me to try to work out what is going on and when documents need to be filed - this is a terrifying position to be in.
"I…

Texas Death Row Inmate Larry Swearingen's Execution Stayed

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Montgomery County state district court Judge Kelly Case on Wednesday withdrew an order that had set the execution of condemned murderer Larry Swearingen for Feb. 27. The judge's decision came after a hearing in which Swearingen's lawyers argued that more time was required to accomplish DNA testing they believe will prove his innocence in the 1998 murder of Melissa Trotter.
Montgomery County assistant district attorney Bill Delmore said he was disappointed with the decision, the first ruling in the case from the newly elected judge. Delmore said that prosecutors had offered to conduct the testing at the state's expense in an expedited manner that would allow the execution to proceed as scheduled. Swearingen's lawyers, however, declined.
"Their refusal to negotiate on the timing of doing the testing between now and the execution date suggests their motion was primarily for the purpose of delay," Delmore said.
Bryce Benjet, a lawyer for the New York-based Innoc…

Saudi Arabia beheads two murderers

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The executions bring to nine the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia beheaded two of its nationals on Wednesday after they were sentenced to death for separate murders, the interior ministry announced.
Marwan Al Balawi was convicted of stabbing to death another Saudi, Saif Al Wabsi, during a dispute in Madinah in the northwest, said a statement published by the official SPA news agency.
SPA also reported that authorities have beheaded Hussain Al Yami for having shot dead Hamad Al Jaafar in the southwestern district of Najran.
The executions bring to nine the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year.
In 2012, the ultra-conservative kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The US-based Human Rights Watch put the number at 69.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.
Source: Agenc…

UAE: Family pardon saves killer from execution

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January 28, 2013: A man who killed his colleague and was sentenced to death, had his capital punishment verdict quashed by Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals, as the heirs of the victim pardoned him and gave up their rights.
The Court handed down the Asian defendant three years in jail for murder. He will be deported after serving his jail term.
“The litigation process, which continued for three years, had helped in dissipating the anger of the victim’s heirs, leading them to surrender their right for punishment.
Over the past years, which followed the crime, they were overwhelmingly determined to mete out the execution, and had demanded repeatedly to the court to urgently implement the verdict,” the Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi said.
According to court records, the defendant had been convicted of stabbing his colleague multiple times, causing him to suffer 33 stab wounds.
The defendant also suffered a deep cut on his palm during the physical assault.
Source: khaleejtimes.com, January 2…

Washington state: Proposed bills would eliminate death penalty

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Bills proposed by lawmakers that would eliminate the death penalty in Washington state were referred to committee Monday.
Both House Bill 1504 and its companion Senate Bill, SB5372, were referred to respective law and judicial committees. If passed, the joint bill would put a stop to all state-ordered executions and make the maximum penalty for a crime lifetime incarceration.
State Reps. Reven Carlyle, D-Seattle, Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, and Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, were 3 of the 15 sponsors of the house bill. They released a statement in support of the bill Tuesday, saying "that life has value and that the death penalty is below us as a civilized society."
"We believe the death penalty is immoral, unfairly implemented and appeals to society's most violent instincts rather than love and compassion," the statement read.
Supporters of the bill argued putting an end to capital punishment saved the state millions of dollars in judicial costs accrued through…

Texas inmate Kimberly McCarthy granted 60-day reprieve

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The planned execution of a female inmate in Texas has been postponed for 60-days by a judge in the Lone Star state.
The execution, which was planned for after 6 p.m. this evening would have been the first time in over two years a female inmate would have faced the death penalty.
Kimberly McCarthy, 51, was sentenced to death for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of her 71-year-old neighbour Dorothy Booth - she was due to receive a lethal injection.
State District Judge Larry Mitchell issued a reprieve for 51-year-old Kimberly McCarthy less than five hours before she could have been taken to the death chamber for the 1997 slaying of a neighbor.
Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Shelly Yeatts says McCarthy's execution date now is April 3.
McCarthy's lawyers contend the jury that convicted her of murder was improperly selected on the basis of race. McCarthy is black. Her jury was made up of 11 whites and one black person.
Source: Huffington Post, January 29, 20…

Saudi Arabia beheads drug trafficker

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Riyadh: Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its nationals on Tuesday after he was convicted of drug trafficking, the Interior Ministry announced in a statement.
Musaed Al Ruweili was arrested as he tried to smuggle “a large number of narcotic pills into the kingdom,” said the statement, cited by the official SPA news agency.
He was beheaded by the sword in the northern Al Jawf province.
The execution brings to seven the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year.
In 2012, the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The US-based Human Rights Watch put the number at 69.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Sharia, or Islamic law.
Source: Agence France-Presse, January 29, 2013

Nine films on death penalty to be screened in Tokyo

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Nine films from Japan and abroad on the theme of capital punishment will be screened consecutively at a movie theater in Tokyo's Shibuya district over a 1-week period from Feb. 2, with a series of talks also scheduled.
Movies shown at Eurospace for its "Death Penalty Movie Week" include the screening of "Serial Killer," a 1969 documentary film on Norio Nagayama, who was hanged in 1997 for fatally shooting 4 people when he was a teenager, and the 1958 French movie "Elevator to the Gallows."
Movies from Bolivia, China and South Korea will also be shown.
The screenings, of 3 to 4 movies a day, will be accompanied by talk sessions with guest speakers including Yoshihiro Yasuda, a Tokyo-based lawyer leading the anti-death penalty campaign in Japan, and Shoji Sakurai, who was falsely accused in a high-profile 1967 murder case and acquitted more than 40 years later.
The event is organized by Forum 90, which has campaigned for terminating capital punishment …

Iran: Man hanged over drug charges

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Iran Human Rights, January 28: One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Mianeh (northwestern Iran) reported the official Iranian news agency IRNA today.
The prisoner who was not identified by name was convicted of selling 890 grams of crack. He was also sentenced to pay 3 million rials for being a drug addict, said the report.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 28, 2013

Court orders death penalty for Egypt football fans

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An Egyptian court sentenced 21 people to death Saturday on charges related to one of the world's deadliest incidents of soccer violence, touching off an attempted jailbreak and a riot that killed 16 in the Mediterranean port city that is home to most of the defendants.
The verdict follows deadly clashes between police and demonstrators on Friday, the 2nd anniversary of the uprising that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Such cycles of violence, often lasting for weeks and costing dozens of lives, have occurred regularly over the past 2 years.
Die-hard soccer fans from both teams, known as Ultras, hold the police at least partially responsible for the Port Said deaths and criticize Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi for doing little to reform the force.
Al-Ahly Ultras in particular have been at the forefront of protests. But anger also is boiling in Port Said, where residents say they have been unfairly scapegoated.
Immediately after the verdict, 2 police were shot dead o…

Bundesbank Limits China Cooperation on Death Penalty

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Germany's Bundesbank said it will exclude Chinese and Vietnamese central bank officials from anti- counterfeiting seminars over concerns about the countries' use of the death penalty for serious cases of forgery.
"The Bundesbank wants to make sure it doesn't give advice on the subject of counterfeiting to countries that impose the death penalty for money forgery," a spokesman for the Frankfurt-based central bank said today, adding that this is currently the case "in at least 2 countries, China and Vietnam."
The Bundesbank will stop inviting officials from the 2 countries' central banks to its seminars on "cash management and combating counterfeit money," it said. It will continue to cooperate on other subjects, from monetary policy to banking supervision.
The move comes after German weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported earlier today that the Bundesbank was supporting Chinese officials in combating forgery and that at least 1 person in the S…

Inmate hanged in public in Kerman, Iran, over rape charges

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Iran Human Rights, January 26: According to the official Iranian media a man was hanged in the public early this morning in Kerman (southeastern Iran).
According to the state run Iranian news agency Fars the man was identified as "Yaser K." (age not mentioned) and convicted of rape.
The execution was carried out at the Khajou Square of Kerman this morning Saturday January 26.
There have been 8 public hangings, one public amputation and four public lashings during the last 10 days in Iran.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 26, 2013

Saudi Arabia: Combating Disinformation In the Wake of Rizana Nafeek's Execution

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The international condemnation of Rizana Nafeek's unjust execution has not elicited a positive response from Saudi authorities. There have been no promises for reform or pledges to reexamine the justice system's flawed management of migrant workers.
Instead, Saudi Arabia has adopted a defensive approach to combat these "defamatory" and "misleading statements."
Officials denied Nafeek was underage and claimed that she not only had a lawyer, but that the Sri Lankan embassy was deeply involved in the case.
However, Nafeek's passport was falsified - a fact that was established years ago, and that has even been confirmed by Saudi authorities in the past.
Additionally, officials distorted the support mechanisms available to Nafeek; she did not have a lawyer during her initial confession, she was not provided with a translator during her initial trials, and the embassy did not intervene in her case until she was sentenced to death.
Saudi authorities claim …

Vietnam's execution cocktail dilemma

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Firing squads are out. Injections are in. But who'll supply the poison?
Like many of its Communist brethren, Vietnam enforces the death penalty. The European Union abhors it.
This is a dilemma for Hanoi, which wants to use lethal injection drugs on its 500-plus prisoners on death row. Germany is a major supplier of sodium thiopental, a standard execution drug that's also used to induce anesthesia. But modern European mores dictate that enabling capital punishment is unethical and that Vietnam is unfit to receive the drug.
So, as the BBC and many other outlets are reporting, Vietnam now intends to create "domestic poisons" that will end the lives of its death row inmates.
Vietnam doesn't profess to care much about its death row inmates' condition. There's a reason Vietnam is suddenly seeking lethal drugs: last year, the government opted to quit using firing squads because it worried about the psychological toll on the shooters, not the anguish of the execu…

Beheaded Rizana Nafeek: Saudi Authorities Refuse to Return Body to Parents in Sri Lanka

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The parents of Rizana Nafeek, the Sri Lankan maid beheaded in Saudi Arabia, say they have forgiven those responsible for her death but want her body returned home.
The Saudi authorities, however, have said no, according to Nafeek's mother.
Rafeena Nafeek told BBC reporter Azzam Ameen: "Even our request to get her body to Sri Lanka was refused."
She said of her daughter's death: "There's no point in blaming anyone - Rizana has gone. We only got to know [about] her execution from the media. They [the Saudi authorities] should have at least told us about it."
She urged other girls not to travel to Saudi Arabia for domestic work, no matter how impoverished they are, a warning echoed by the United
Nations. Nafeek was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of a 4-month-old baby who died in her care 2 years earlier. She denied murdering the child.
She had travelled to Saudi Arabia on a false passport to work as a maid. The passport put her age at 23 althou…

Man hanged in Iran for murder

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Iran Human Rights, January 25: One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Ilam yesterday morning reported the state run Iranian news agency Fars.
The prisoner who was not identified by name was convicted of murder and sentenced to Qesas (retribution).
According to the official Iranian sources at least 17 people have been executed in different Iranian cities in the last 9 days.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 25, 2013

2,200 French nationals detained abroad, seven sentenced to death

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Imprisoned in Mexico since December 2005, Florence Cassez was finally released Wednesday, Jan. 23 following a decision by the Supreme Court. This happy outcome should give hope to many French prisoners in the world, much of whom claim to be innocent. According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2,216 French nationals were detained abroad as of December 2, 2012.
The vast majority (1,467) of them were imprisoned in Europe and Central Asia, according to the geographical classification of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by North Africa (293) Asia and Pacific (116) Latin America (112), Sub-Saharan Africa (102), North America (99) and the Near and the Middle East (27).
Seven of them are sentenced to death, but the Foreign Ministry did not specify in which country. According to the NGO "Together Against the Death Penalty", they were sentenced to death in Indonesia, the United States, China and Maghreb countries.
Serge Atlaoui is one of them. This…

Tareq Aziz "depressed", plans to ask Pope to call for his speedy execution

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January 23, 2013: Tareq Aziz, the late Saddam Hussein's ailing former deputy premier now on death row, is suffering from depression and plans to ask the Pope to call for his speedy execution, his lawyer said.
Badie Aref said Aziz, a Christian, believed he was being treated well in prison, but was suffering from ill health and simply wanted an end to his "misery."
"He is in total depression," Aref told AFP by telephone after meeting with Aziz earlier on Wednesday.
The lawyer said Aziz had told him: "I will now write an appeal to the Pope. Even though I have never met him in person, I will call for him to end my misery, because I would prefer to be executed rather than stay in this condition."
Aziz, a close confidante of now-executed dictator Saddam, was sentenced to death in October 2010 after having been found guilty of "deliberate murder and crimes against humanity."
The Vatican, the European Union and several Western governments have call…

Two prisoners executed In Iran - 16 Executions in 8 Days

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Iran Human Rights, January 24: Two prisoners were hanged in two different Iranian prisons, reported the Iranian state media today.
One of the prisoners was convicted of murdering a security officer in Khoramdareh (Province of Lorestan, western Iran), reported the daily Kayhan newspaper. The prisoner was identified as V. Sh and hanged in Khoramdareh Prison on the morning of January 23.
The other prisoner was convicted of drug trafficking and was hanged in the Shahroos Prison (northern Iran) early this morning. According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in the province of Semnan, the prisoner was identified as Ch. P. and convicted of trafficking 1.94 kilograms of morphine.
Official Iranian sources have reported that, since January 16, 2013, at least 16 people were executed in different Iranian cities. Six of the executions were carried out in public.
Source: Iran Human Rights, January 24, 2013

Harsh reality of Kerobokan Prison awaits British gran sentenced to death

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British woman Lindsay Sandiford can now look forward to sleeping for a very long time on a mat on the floor, dormitory-style, in a hot, smelly and dank Bali prison cell.
There will no beds and nice bedding, no western toilets and no creature comforts. Her sleeping partners and cell mates, who she will sleep cheek by jowl with, will not be her friends, she will never know who to trust and nothing will be sacred.
Sentenced yesterday to death for her role in trafficking 4.8kg of cocaine into the holiday island, the British grandmother now faces years of appeals and pleas for clemency before her eventual fate will be known.
The only constant will be that her home will be Bali's Kerobokan Prison, in the midst of the ever trendy suburb of Kerobokan.
She is in Block W, the women' block - the same place where Australians Schapelle Corby and Renae Lawrence are held and where Lawrence is one of the chief prisoners, in charge of the others.
The numbers in her cell will differ from less …

23 Year-Old Nigerian Student Sentenced to Death for Drug Trafficking in Malaysia

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A 23 year-old Nigerian student of a private college in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was sentenced to death by hanging after he was found guilty of trafficking in 16,936gm of cannabis 2 years ago.
As reported by NewStraitsTimes, the Judicial Commissioner Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab ruled that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against John Amaechi Eze.
In his judgment, Zaki said the accused claimed he was waiting to board an express bus at a restaurant in front of the Lye Huat Garden hall when he was arrested by police. However, he said the court did not believe his claim that he did not own the luggage when witnesses had testified that he was with the luggage all the time.
His sentencing has elicited a range of reactions and warnings to Nigerians against trafficking drugs in countries where the stated penalty for such an offence is the death sentence.
Malaysia is a tightly controlled society where the authorities decide what business prospers, whether legal or illegal. E…

New tactics see Western drug mules behind bars in Bali

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Drug syndicates are using Westerners to smuggle drugs into Bali in new tactics, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday as a British grandmother became the latest to face the firing squad for trafficking.
Lindsay Sandiford, 56, was sentenced to death Tuesday after being caught with 4.79 kilograms (10 pounds, 9 ounces) of cocaine worth $2.4 million in her suitcase as she arrived on a flight from Bangkok last May.
The haul was destined for sale in the hard-partying resort island, which is enjoying a tourism boom and where drugs can be freely obtained despite harsh penalties and high-profile arrests.
"Drugs are absolutely easily available... from weed and 'shrooms to crystal meth and acid," said Australian Andrew Lee, 21, in Kuta, the island's entertainment strip, which is lined with bars.
"Hundreds of people sell epinephrine outside the clubs," he added.
Sandiford sobbed as the sentence was handed down in a court in Bali's capital Denpasar, with judges reje…

China: Halt the imminent execution of woman who killed violent husband

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A Chinese woman who stabbed her husband to death after suffering months of sustained domestic violence should not be executed, Amnesty International said today.
Li Yan a 41-year-old woman, from Sichuan province in South West China, could be executed any day between now and the Chinese New Year in early February.
Amnesty International's Head of East Asia, Roseann Rife, said:
"Justice is not served by executing Li Yan. Amnesty International calls upon the Chinese authorities to commute her death sentence to a term of imprisonment.
"Had the Chinese authorities protected Li, as they are required to under international law, this tragic outcome could have been avoided. Li's claims should have been properly investigated and her husband prosecuted before she resorted to violence herself.
"Victims of domestic violence should not have to live in fear and isolation. The Chinese authorities are obliged to prevent violence against women, including by their husbands, and to …