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Showing posts from February, 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…

Taiwan to Continue Enforcing Death Penalty

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Taiwan says it will continue to enforce the death penalty, despite international appeals to end capital punishment on the island.
Taiwan has executed 15 people since 2010, when it ended a 5-year informal moratorium on the death penalty. 6 people were put to death in the latest round of executions in December 2012.
The firing-squad executions have generated outcries from European Union members and human rights groups. Last week, Amnesty International gave Taiwan a petition calling for a suspension of the death penalty with more than 100,000 signatures from French citizens.
Taiwan Deputy Justice Minister Chen Shou-huang tells VOA only murderers who kill more than 1 person or use brutality face the death penalty. He says the government is seeking understanding from its critics.
He says Taiwan has reached out to diplomats in European Union countries and diplomatic missions throughout the world to explain, in specific terms, the reasons why Taiwan must enforce the death penalty.
Opinion p…

China: Tougher supervision of death sentences

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The country's top prosecuting department has set up a new internal branch to supervise the reviews of death sentences that have been submitted to the top court for approval, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Wednesday.
Before sentencing a person to death, a court must gain approval from the SPP, which reviews each case to ensure there are no mistakes.
"We are strengthening the legal supervision of the death penalty review," Ye Feng, director of the death sentence review examination department under SPP said.
"Therefore, we can gradually improve the quality and efficiency of the handling of such cases to make sure the death penalty is accurate and free of mistakes".
According to the SPP, the new department has five main functions, which include putting forward proposals for the death penalties which are under examination by the top court; analyzing and researching the review results; giving guidance to provincial prosecuting departments to …

Pakistan: 7,046 death row inmates awaiting execution

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Appeals of 5,378 pending in provincial high courts, 1,031 in apex court
The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday that 7,046 inmates on death row are awaiting execution across the country.
The Interior Ministry, through the attorney general of Pakistan's office, on Wednesday submitted complete details of the prisoners on death row in different prisons of the country. Petitioner Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party has drawn the Supreme Court's attention to the ordeal faced by such inmates. According to the details provided by the ministry, 5,378 appeals against the death sentence are pending in the provincial high courts and 1,031 in the Supreme Court.
The province-wise breakdown of death row prisoners is: Punjab, 4,981; Sindh, 266; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 102; and Balochistan, 29. Meanwhile, 532 mercy applications are pending before the president. It has also been learnt that the president has stopped the implementation of 78 capital punishment sentences, whereas the GH…

Iran: Five executed over drug charges

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Iran Human Rights, February 27: According to the official Iranian media five prisoners have been hanged in three different Iranian cities. All the prisoners are convicted of drug-related charges.
Three prisoners hanged in the prison of Qazvin on February 24:
The official website of the Iranian judiciary in Qazvin reported that three prisoners were hanged in the prison of Qazvin on Sunday February 24. The prisoners were identified as "J." (33) charged with possession of 24 grams of cannabis and 440 grams of Shisheh; "M." (32) charged with possession of 223 grams of heroin and 412 grams of Shisheh and "M." (28) charged with possessing 470 grams of Shisheh.
One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Behbehan, southwestern Iran:
According to the official website of the Iranian judiciary in Khuzestan one prisoner was hanged in the prison of Behbehan Sunday February 24. The prisoner was identified as "A. Gh." and was convicted of trafficking of 3485 gr…

Emirati woman who tortured, murdered Ethiopian maid to walk free after paying "blood money"

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An Emirati woman who murdered her Ethiopian housemaid in Abu Dhabi is set to walk free after the maid’s relatives agreed to pardon the defendant in return for diya (blood money), a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
A criminal court in the capital said it would issue a verdict on March 25 after the relatives of the maid said they had accepted diya from the Emirati woman, who confessed to have tortured her maid without intending to kill her.
During Monday’s trail, the unnamed woman said she could not remember details of her repeated torture sessions against the maid but told court that she has a problem with domestic workers after one maid had an affair with her ex-husband.
“The Ethiopian consul who was present at the trial asked court to try and handle the defendant after she is released from jail so she will not hurt others again,” the Arabic language daily Emarat Al Youm said.
Under Islamic law, killers can be saved from the gallows in most cases if pardoned by the victim’s family in r…

KSA: Jordanian beheaded for drug trafficking

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His execution brings to 16 number of people beheaded in kingdom this year.
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Sunday beheaded a Jordanian man convicted of drug trafficking, the interior ministry said.
Faris Salam Salama Al Maghrebi was arrested while attempting to “smuggle a large amount of amphetamine” stimulant capsules into the kingdom, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
He was beheaded in the northern Jawf province, it said.
His execution brings to 16 the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year.
In 2012, the kingdom executed 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, Feb. 25, 2013

The big switch; 1 drug is dismantling the lethal injection protocol, shot by shot

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The switch from sodium thiopenthal to pentobarbital in lethal injections is having larger consequences than state correction officials ever anticipated.
It is hard to imagine that Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner Jay Chapman could have foreseen the storm now raging around the 3-drug lethal injection protocol he engineered in 1977. But recent moves by Oklahoma and most other death penalty states to change the 1st of the 3 drugs is giving death penalty opponents new leverage in attacking lethal injection - as is currently the case in Maryland - perhaps inching the death penalty closer to its demise.
Chapman and other medical professionals welcomed a revision of the protocol because of growing doubt surrounding the efficacy and availability of sodium thiopenthal, which is no longer manufactured in the U.S. What they didn't expect is that a slower acting and, many argue, less effective drug called pentobarbital would replace sodium thiopenthal, leaving the door open for lawyers to argu…

EU condemns use of death penalty in Japan

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On 22 February, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has once again asked for a universal abolition of death penalty.
Ashton comments come a day after the execution of 3 Japanese prisoners, accused for extremely violent crimes. Sadakazu Tanigaki, the Japanese justice minister who ordered the executions told reporters, "these were extremely cruel cases in which the victims had their precious lives taken away for very selfish reasons."
However Ashton commented today, "I deplore that 3 prisoners, Masahiro Kanagawa, Keiki Kano and Kaoru Kobayashi, were executed on 21 February in Japan. While recognising the serious nature of the crimes involved and expressing sincere sympathy to the bereaved family and friends of the victims, the European Union does not believe that their loss will be mitigated by these executions."
Kanagawa, 29, was executed in Tokyo for murdering 2 people and wounding several others in March 2008. Kobayashi, 44, was hanged in the western city of …

South Africa: Youth 'want death penalty reinstated'

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The majority of young South Africans want the death penalty to be reinstated, consumer insights company Pondering Panda said on Friday.
"It was found that more than 3 in 4 young South Africans think the death penalty should be reinstated as the highest form of punishment for criminals," spokesperson Shirley Wakefield said.
Altogether 6 900 young people between 18 and 34 years took part in the survey across the country.
Wakefield said 76% thought capital punishment should be reinstated.
"80 % of all respondents also believed that having the death penalty would deter criminals and reduce crime," she said.
"The survey also found that a similar proportion of respondents felt crime in South Africa was becoming progressively worse."
Sense of desperation
It was conducted between 13 and 19 February and interviews were carried out through cellphones.
Wakefield said the figures showed a sense of desperation that something needed to be done about crime.
"The go…

Death-penalty ban fails in Montana House committee

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A proposal to ban the death penalty in Montana is once again being rejected by a state House committee.
The GOP-led House Judiciary Committee on Friday rejected the proposal to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The same proposal died in the same committee 2 years ago.
Supporters of House Bill 370 hoped they had a better chance after garnering some Republican support. Backers are likely to still seek full debate on the House floor.
Death penalty foes say it is an inhumane punishment that leads to lengthy and costly appeals, while putting the state at risk of killing an innocent man.
Supporters of the punishment say it serves as a deterrent and provides justice for heinous crimes.
Source: Associated Press, February 22, 2013

Arkansas Governor Signs New Lethal Injection Law

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February 20, 2013: Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe's office said today that he signed legislation (SB 237) that rewrites the state's lethal injection law, despite his misgivings about the death penalty.
The new law spells out in greater detail the procedures the state must follow in carrying out executions. It says the state must use a lethal dose of a barbiturate but leaves it up to the Department of Correction to determine which one.
The legislation came up after the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state's 2009 lethal injection law last year.
The new law means Arkansas could potentially resume capital punishment, but court challenges may further delay the state from executing a prisoner for the 1st time since 2005.
Source: Associated Press, Feb. 20, 2013


Legal challenges likely to delay Ark. executions

Arkansas got a new lethal injection law this week, but court challenges will likely block the state from resuming executions anytime soon.

The attorney general's off…

Three hanged in Kermanshah, Iran

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Iran Human Rights, February 21: Three prisoners were hanged in the prison of Dizelabad in Kermanshah (western Iran) yesterday Wednesday February 20.
According to the Iranian national broadcasting in Kermanshah the prisoners were convicted of drug trafficking. No further details were given about the charges and identities of the prisoners.
Source: Iran Human Rights, February 21, 2013

Georgia executes Andrew Cook

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A 38-year-old inmate convicted of killing 2 college students in 1995 was executed in Georgia on Thursday, apologizing to the families of both before being injected at a state prison.

Andrew Allen Cook was pronounced dead at 11:22 p.m., about 14 minutes after he was injected with the sedative pentobarbital. He was the 1st inmate to be executed since the state changed its procedure in July from a 3-drug combination to a single dose.

With his last words, he apologized to the families of Mercer University students Grant Patrick Hendrickson, 22, and Michele Lee Cartagena, 19, who were shot several times as they sat in a car at Lake Juliette. He said what he did was senseless.

"I'm sorry," Cook said as he was strapped to a gurney. "I'm not going to ask you to forgive me. I can't even do it myself."

He also thanked his family for "their support, for being with me and I'm sorry I took so much from you all."

The Georgia Appeals Court on Wednesday …

Texas executes Carl Henry Blue

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(Reuters) - The state of Texas executed a man on Thursday for killing his former girlfriend in 1994 by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.
Carl Henry Blue, 48, was put to death by lethal injection at 6:56pm on Thursday night at The Walls Unit, in Huntsville, Texas.
Blue was convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Carmen Richards-Sanders, 38, in her apartment in Bryan, Texas, on the morning of August 19, 1994, as she was getting ready to leave for work.
His execution was the first carried out in Texas this year and the second in the United States.
According to court records in the Texas case, Blue threw open the door to Richards-Sanders' apartment, tossed gasoline on her and another man who was in the home at the time and set the two of them ablaze with a lighter.
"I told you I was gonna get you," Blue said to Richards-Sanders, according to a court summary of the case.
The male victim survived his injuries, but Richards-Sanders died 19 days later due to organ f…

Saudi beheads Chadian national over drug trafficking

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The Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday reported the kingdom had beheaded Abdulkarim Ibrahim Mousa Abkar, a Chadian national convicted of smuggling drugs. It was the fourteenth such execution in Saudi Arabia since the start of the new year.
Those convicted of charges that include murder, rape, drug trafficking, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft could be brought to the block in Saudi Arabia, which adheres to an extreme form of Islamic law.
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest state execution rates in the world. The kingdom put down at least 82 people in 2011 according to Amnesty International. Seventy-six people were beheaded in the kingdom last year according to an AFP tally, while Human Rights Watch has put the number at 69.
The kingdom has brushed off international calls for the kingdom to abolish the policy of beheading.
Source: Agence France-Presse, February 2013

Japan executes three death-row inmates

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Japan hanged three death-row inmates on Thursday, reports said, which, if confirmed, would be its first executions since a conservative government swept to power in landslide elections in December.
Public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media reported that the trio were put to death in the early morning hours of Thursday without giving further details or identifying the condemned prisoners.
The justice ministry did not immediately confirm the reports but Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki was to hold a press briefing at 11:00 am (0200 GMT).
If confirmed, the executions would be Japan's first since two death-row inmates were hanged in September under a centre-left Democratic Party of Japan government.
There were 137 inmates on death row in Japan as of Wednesday, according to the justice ministry.
Japan did not execute any condemned inmates in 2011, the first full year in nearly two decades without an execution amid muted debate on the rights and wrongs of a policy that enjoys w…

Iran: Public hanging in Arak

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Iran Human Rights, February 20: One prisoner was hanged publicly in Arak (central Iran) today Wednesday February 20. According to the official website of the Iranian judiciary in Markazi Province the prisoner was a 23 year old man convicted of kidnapping and sexual abuse of a 15 year old boy. The prisoner was not identified by name.
The state run Iranian media also reported that four young men convicted of raping a young girl will be hanged publicly in Karaj (west of Tehran) in the near future.
Number of public executions and other public punishments such as lashing and amputations have increased significantly in the past few months in Iran and Iran Human Rights (IHR) believes that the number will increase as we approach the June 2013 Presidential elections.
Number of public executions in the first 7 weeks of 2013 are as high as the whole year 2010.
Source: Iran Human Rights, February 20, 2013

Stepping Back From Capital Punishment

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In December, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a global moratorium on the death penalty. This fourth such vote in five years was supported by a record 111 nations.
Yet in the first month of 2013, Saudi Arabia beheaded nine people. In recent weeks, Yemen has sentenced a juvenile offender to death, fueling hunger strikes by scores of imprisoned children. Iran has reportedly begun imposing death sentences for petty criminals accused of robbery.
Elsewhere, a court in Indonesia, where there have been no state executions since 2008, sentenced a British grandmother to death for drug trafficking — reportedly to gasps of disbelief in the courtroom. Zimbabwe has hired a hangman after seven years of searching, while Sri Lanka, which has not carried out an execution since 1976, has reportedly recruited two executioners who are undergoing special training.
In the United States, the trend is toward fewer executions and death sentences, with more states repealing the deat…

Indian SC extends stay on execution of death sentence of Veerappan

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New Delhi: Hanging of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has been further delayed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday extending its interim order staying the execution of death sentence imposed on them for killing 22 police personnel in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.
"In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six months to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.
"As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue" until further orders, the bench also comprising justices A.R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.
The bench noted t…

Georgia: Courts halt Warren Hill’s execution

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Condemned killer Warren Lee Hill, whose mental retardation claims have attracted international attention, was spared execution Tuesday night with less than an hour to go before he was to be put to death.
Hill had already been given a sedative to prepare for his lethal injection, shortly after the state parole board declined to commute Hill’s capital sentence and after the Georgia Supreme Court rejected his final appeal.
Even the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a stay, which could be a sign that his chances are slim of avoiding another scheduled execution.
But then, the federal appeals court in Atlanta, by a 2-1 vote, halted Hill’s execution for at least 30 days.
“All of the experts — both the state’s and (Hill’s) — now appear to be in agreement that Hill is in fact mentally retarded,” Judges Rosemary Barkett and Stanley Marcus wrote in granting Hill a “conditional” stay of execution.
Judge Frank Hull dissented, saying there is a wealth of “reliable and unbiased evidence” in the …

Saudi withdraws Sri Lanka envoy in execution tiff

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Countries at odds since January beheading of domestic worker convicted for murder.
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia says it has recalled its ambassador to Sri Lanka following a similar move by the South Asian nation to protest the kingdom’s beheading of a Sri Lankan domestic worker last month.
The two countries have been at odds since the January execution of Rizana Nafeek, who was convicted in the death of a Saudi baby in her care in 2005.
The case spurred global appeals for leniency because she was 17 at the time of the infant’s death. She had denied strangling the four-month-old boy.
The official Saudi Press Agency said on Wednesday that the ambassador was called to Riyadh for consultations. Sri Lanka withdrew its ambassador to the Gulf kingdom after the execution.
The UN’s human rights body had expressed “deep dismay” at the beheading, and the European Union said it had asked the Saudi authorities to commute the death penalty.
Saudi Arabia “deplored” world reaction to the beheading at the tim…

Hanging In India: Letter To A Prison Doctor

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Dr Vasant Yamakanmaradi, medical officer of the Central Prison, Hindalga (Belgaum), said the four convicts are both mentally and physically healthy. "We have been regularly conducting their health check-up to ensure they are fit to be executed," he said. "All convicts have been informed about their execution." (1)
The jail authorities began preparations for the executions after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petitions of Veerappan's brother Jnanaprakash, Bilavendra, Simon and Meesekar Madaiah last week.
Dear Dr Yamakanmaradi,
Assuming that you’re accurately quoted – and it is mostly likely you have been as another newspaper has also done so while spelling your name differently, it is good to know that you have been checking the health of the four convicts regularly. (2)
I wonder whether you have also been talking to the convicts doctor. Do you talk to them as just living beings that need to be kept alive until the Indian state can snuff out their …

Iran: 8 hanged in Shiraz’s Adelabad Prison

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Iran Human Rights, February 19: Eight prisoners were hanged in Shiraz’s Adelabad Prison early this morning. According to the official website of the Iranian judiciary in the province of Fars, eight prisoners, among them one woman, were hanged this morning. The prisoners were all convicted of drug-related charges, said the report.
The prisoners were identified as "Lotfollah J.", "Noor Mohammad Sh.", "Abbas N.", "Hossein A.", "Parinaz M." (woman), "Hamid A.", "Abdolvahed M." and "Ali T."
According to sources in Iran, families of the prisoners were informed that the executions would be carried out on February 20, but Iranian authorities carried out the executions one day earlier without notice.
Iran Human Rights (IHR) had issued an urgent action about the scheduled execution of 12 prisoners in Shiraz. There is no information currently available on the location or condition of the remaining four prisoners. Th…

India: Belgaum jail awaits hanging orders for Veerappan aides

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The jail in Belgaum where four condemned aides of brigand Veerappan are lodged is still waiting for orders to go ahead with their execution. There had been a buzz that the convicts would be executed on Sunday morning, but that did not happen.
Jail sources said the authorities are waiting for the Mysore session court's order regarding the date and timing of the executions. They said, as per the state prisons department's order, the assistant superintendent of jail was due to leave for Mysore on Sunday night to collect the order.
The jail authorities began preparations for the executions after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petitions of Veerappan's brother Jnanaprakash, Bilavendra, Simon and Meesekar Madaiah last Tuesday. The Supreme Court then declined permission to them to file a petition challenging the President's rejection.
All the convicts have been shifted to the barracks next to the hanging place inside the jail. Dr Vasant Yamakanmaradi, medical o…