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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Iraq executes four including al-Qaeda boss

The executions brought to 22 the number of times Iraq has carried out the death penalty so far this year, compared with 129 in 2012, which was among the highest such figures in the world.

"These terrorists were executed by hanging," the justice ministry said in a statement on Monday. "They committed criminal attacks against the Iraqi people, notably in Baghdad and in (the western province of) Anbar."

Among the group executed was Munaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi, once described as the "governor of Baghdad" for al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq, who was arrested in March 2010.

He has been blamed for plotting two massive attacks in the Iraqi capital in August and October of 2009 that left 250 dead in total.

Security forces have said Rawi's arrest yielded crucial intelligence that helped lead to the killings in April 2010 of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the political leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Ayub al-Masri, the insurgent group's self-styled "minister of war".

Iraq has executed at least 22 people so far this year, according to an AFP tally. It executed 18 people convicted of terror-related offences on March 14 and 17.

Al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate said nationwide attacks on March 19 that killed 56 people were "revenge for those whom you (the government) executed".

Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari insisted last week that Baghdad would continue to implement the death penalty in the face of widespread calls for it to issue a moratorium.

Iraq's executions have sparked concern from the United Nations, as well as Britain, the European Union and rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Source: AFP, April 1, 2013

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