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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

India: Belgaum jail awaits hanging orders for Veerappan aides

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 officer of the Central Prison, Hindalga, 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."

The prisons department is reportedly training a jail staffer to carry out the executions since there is no hangman in the jail. The staff member is said to be performing mock hangings daily for the past 3 days.

Jail superintendent Veerabhadra Swami refused to comment on anything related to the executions.

Lawyers denied permission to meet aides of Veerappan

Hindalga Jail authorities continued to deny permission to lawyers of 4 aides of forest brigand Veerappan whose mercy petition has been rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.

On Sunday, the lawyers who came to meet the aides of Veerappan, who are expected to be executed at any moment after the rejection of mercy petition, were denied permission to meet and get the signature of the four convicts on wakalat application forms.

Lawyer Shanthi Fonseca, advocate in Goa high court, who came all the way from Goa and camped in Belgaum since Saturday to take up the case of aides of Veerappan struggled a lot to take the signature of aides, but she was not allowed to meet the aides. Another advocate, M Ramesh, of Belgaum and member of NGO were also not allowed to meet the aides of Veerappan.

With wakalat forms in their hands, lawyers had heated arguments with jail authorities and insisted them to let them inside to meet the aides to get their signature but in vain as jail authority remained adamant and denied permission.

Speaking to TOI, Shanti Fonseca, said, "I have been struggling to meet the convicts since the past 2 days but I was not allowed to meet them. The jail authorities are not giving any respect to law and going against the rule of the law. Lawyers must be allowed to meet the convicts who are facing death sentence. We should be given permission to get their signature so that we can fight for them to rescue them from death penalty."

Delay in disposal of mercy petition

Shanti who left for Goa on Sunday evening, said, she is filing a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday appealing to stay the execution order of four convicts. The jail authorities should announce the date and timings of the execution of these 4 convicts and they should not treat this case on par with other cases of terrorists.

There has been an inordinate delay in disposal of mercy petition of all four aides of Veerappan as it took 9 years. All of a sudden, the mercy petition of all 4 convicts, who have already spent nearly two decades in jail, was rejected by the President and it is not at all acceptable, she said.

Source: The Times of India, February 17, 2013


Indian SC stays death penalty of Veerappan's aides

New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) The Supreme Court today stayed till further orders the execution of death sentence of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, who were awarded capital punishment in 2004 for a landmine blast in Karnataka that left 22 police personnel dead.

The bench posted the matter for Wednesday.

"In the meantime, the execution of death sentence of four convicts shall remain stayed," a bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.

Source: Press Trust of India, Feb. 18

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