Posts

Showing posts from June, 2013

FEATURED POST

Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

Image
Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Louisiana releases execution protocol; inmate's lawyer calls it 'inadequate'

Image
Louisiana corrections officials have released the state's execution protocol after a lawsuit brought by two death row inmates called for more transparency into the procedure. But the inmates' lawyers say details released by the state are spotty at best, and that the use of a new lethal drug is not fully explained.
Until this month, the state's execution protocol was inaccessible by the public, including inmates and their attorneys. The protocol, obtained by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on Friday, was released after 2 death row inmates filed suit against the state Corrections Department and Louisiana State Penitentiary, or Angola, to make public the documents.
But, Michael Rubenstein, lawyer for inmate Jessie Hoffman, said the nearly 60-page document he received last week is "woefully inadequate." While it confirms previous court admissions that the state plans to switch to using a single drug in its lethal injections, it leaves out important details, he said.
&…

Florida lifts stay of execution for Marshall Lee Gore

Image
A federal appeals court lifted the stay of execution for a former escort service owner convicted in the slayings of 2 Florida women.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on Thursday for Marshall Lee Gore. Gov. Rick Scott today set Gore's execution for July 10 at 6 p.m. Gore, 49, had been scheduled to die at the Florida State Prison in Starke Monday evening for the 1988 slaying of Robyn Novick, a 30-year-old exotic dancer. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a motion filed by Gore's attorney less than 2 hours before he was to have received a lethal injection.
In his emergency motion, attorney Todd Scher argued Gore's execution would violate the Eighth Amendment, which forbids the state from carrying out a death sentence against a prisoner who is insane.
Gore's attorneys have argued before that he is mentally ill. One previous lawyer claimed Gore was "mentally deranged" and not responsible for his actions. But several judges concluded h…

Nigeria: "They Almost Executed Him Secretly"

Image
On Tuesday, Ebhos was dragged to the gallows in Benin Prison, Nigeria. He was forced to watch as 4 men were hanged.
He only escaped execution because, at the last moment, the prison authorities realised that his death sentence, imposed by a military tribunal, required a firing squad. It had not been prepared.
The Nigerian furniture maker had been on death row for 17 years, convicted of armed robbery. His son, Solomon, only learned that his father was about to be put to death when he read a local newspaper report that 4 men had been hanged.
"The morning after the four executions I knew that my day was on death row," he told Amnesty International. "The article said there was still one person at risk of execution and I knew it was him. My two eldest sisters went down to the prison to try and find out what was happening."
Solomon described his sense of despair at the news that his father may be put to death at any point from now on.
"My 2 eldest sisters went down…

Nigeria won't drop death penalty, legalize same-sex marriage

Image
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru Federal Government has sealed the fate of homosexuals and those clamouring for the abolition of the death penalty in the Criminal Code.
It has rejected the recommendation by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the protection of same sex marriage and abolition of the death penalty.
This is contained in the draft report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on resolution 16/20 discussed at a Stakeholders' Consultative Forum on the second cycle of Nigeria's Universal Periodic Review in Abuja on Friday.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, said same sex marriage was against the tradition and customs of Nigeria, so it could not be imposed on the country by external forces.
Addressing the representatives of Nigeria, Ashiru, who wondered why gay rights had generated interest from the United Nations, queried the negative campaign against polygamy, which, according to him, was allowed in African …

Five hanged in Iran, one in public

Image
Iran Human Rights, June 29: Two prisoners were hanged in two Iranian cities today, reported the official Iranian media.
One of the prisoners was hanged publicly in "Salman Farsi" crossing of Ahwaz, reported the state run Iranian news agency Fars. The prisoner was identified as "M. T." and was convicted of buying and selling 17 kilos and 826 grams of psychostimulant drugs and selling 700 grams of crystal, said the report. The public hanging took place on Saturday morning June 29.
The other prisoner was a "young man" identified as "A.S." who was convicted of murdering another man identified as "Mohsen Hosseini-Nik" in 2006, reported Fars news agency. The prisoner was hanged in the prison of Gachsaran (western Iran) this morning. The report didn’t mention the age of the prisoner.
According to "Human rights and democracy activists in Iran" (HRDAI) three prisoners among them one Afghan citizen were hanged in the prison of Zahedan…

Man who executed Saddam Hussein killed in Iraq

Image
One of the executioners involved in the hanging of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been killed, the outlawed Baath Party said in a statement on Friday.
While not providing a date for when the executioner was killed, the statement identified him as Mohammed Nassif al-Maliki, who allegedly appeared in the video of Saddam's execution.
The statement said Maliki was the masked man standing on the left side of the former Iraqi strongman and slipping the noose around his neck.
In the report, posted on the party's official website, a "well-informed" source was cited as saying that "party members killed Mohammed Nassif al-Maliki, near Yusufiyah city (about 25 km southwest of, Baghdad)."
Iraqi officials have not commented on the reports of Maliki's death.
The site mentioned that before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Maliki used to sell vegetables in the country's Karbala province.
After Saddam's execution, he joined Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki…

Colorado: James Holmes to wear hidden harness anchored to floor

Image
Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes will be restrained during his trial by wearing a harness under his clothes that will be anchored to the floor, the judge said Thursday.
Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. also ruled the jury will not be sequestered during the trial, which is scheduled to start in February and is expected to take 4 months.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora in July.
He has worn heavy shackles on his wrists and ankles during pretrial hearings. His lawyers wanted him to be unshackled during the trial, saying the restraints would make him look guilty to the jury.
Samour said Holmes has to be restrained because he is charged with violent crimes. He said jurors won't see the harness, and the anchoring cable will blend in with computer cables at the defense table.
The judge ruled earlier that Holmes can wear civilian clothing at his trial.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to…

Vietnam: Lethal Injection Looms for 117 Prisoners

Image
Today, June 27, according to a government decree, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Defense will begin the implementation of the death penalty by poison, at the 5 execution facilities in Hanoi, Son La, Nghe An, Dak Lak and Ho Chi Minh City.
Death penalty not yet authorized by lethal injection because of lacking medication
However, Lieutenant General Cao Ngoc Oanh, General Director of the Agency for Sentence Enforcement and Judicial Assistance of the Ministry Public Security said on June 26 that the facilities and poison for lethal injection "are still being prepared."
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Truong, Chair of the Health Ministry Office, said the production of poison for lethal injection is assigned to the Drug Administration. The information related to poison production is a secret.
The country has over 560 prisoners under death penalty and 170 people are eligible for lethal injection. Firing has been replaced by lethal injection for two years, since the law on enf…

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with murder in Boston bombings

Image
The charges, including the shooting death of a police officer, could bring the death penalty.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged on Thursday with killing three people in the Boston Marathon bombings and fatally shooting a police officer in a federal indictment that alleged that he downloaded instructions on building a homemade bomb from an al-Qaeda website.
The 56-page indictment also said that Dzhkokhar contributed to the death of his 27-year-old brother, Tamerlan when he drove over him while trying to escape a confrontation with police three days after the April 15 bombings..
The 19-year-old Cambridge, Mass., student is also charged with using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and the use of a firearm resulting in death.
Tsarnaev, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted, is scheduled to be arraigned July 10. 
Source: USA Today, June 27, 2013

URGENT ACTION APPEAL for man at imminent risk of execution in southern Nigeria

Image
A man on death row in southern Nigeria’s Edo State is at imminent risk of execution by firing squad, after four others were hanged.
Death row prisoner Thankgod Ebhos was dragged to the gallows with four other prisoners: he alone was not hanged, but he may be executed within days. He was sentenced to death by firing squad by a military tribunal in Kaduna, in 1996. According to the Edo State Attorney General, he was not hanged because the military tribunal had ruled he should be executed by firing squad. It is believed the prison authorities are making arrangements with the military to carry out the execution very soon. Military tribunals in Nigeria went against fair trial standards as they denied defendants the right to appeal. He was never able to appeal the decision of the tribunal.
Four other death row inmates at Benin Prison were executed by hanging on 24 June, hours after the Federal High Court in Benin City, capital of Edo State, ruled against an appeal by two Nigerian NGOs to ha…

President asks China to spare Filipino woman scheduled to be executed for drug trafficking

Image
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has asked his Chinese counterpart to spare a Filipino woman facing execution for trafficking 6 kilograms (13 pounds) of heroin into the country, officials said Thursday.
The 35-year-old woman is scheduled to be executed anytime between Thursday and July 2, and her family is preparing to travel to China for what could be their final meeting, said Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
He told reporters that the woman was arrested at the Hangzhou International Airport in January 2011 along with a Filipino man. She travelled as a tourist and has been convicted of hiding the heroin in her luggage. Her companion was sentenced to death with a 2-year reprieve.
Hernandez quoted Chinese authorities as saying that the woman had trafficked illegal drugs to China 18 times since 2008 and was paid $3,000 to $4,000 per trip. She pleaded not guilty but the evidence against her was overwhelming, Hernandez said.
He said Aquin…

Urgent Action Appeal for Pavel Selyun, a 23 year-old man sentenced to death in Belarus

Image
A 23 year-old man has been sentenced to death in Western Belarus on 12 June for a double murder.
Pavel Selyun was sentenced to death by the Hrodna Regional Court on 12 June for the murder of his wife and her lover in August 2012. His lawyer has appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court.
He is currently being detained in Investigation Isolation Prison (SIZO) No. 1 in Hrodna. His mother, Tamara Selyun, who lives over 300 km away from Hrodna, has not received any letters from him since the sentence was pronounced on 12 June, and she is concerned that he may commit suicide. She told Amnesty International: “My son is worthy of making a contribution to his country and shouldn't be sitting where he is sitting now”.
Belarus is the last country in Europe which still carries out executions: in 2012 it executed three men. Three death sentences have been pronounced so far in 2013: Rygor Yuzepchuk was sentenced on 24 April, and Alyaksandr Harynou was sentenced on 14 June.
On 21 June, at a ro…

Blood money saves 2 Chennaiites from gallows in Kuwait

Image
Just 2 days before they were to go under the executioner's blade in Kuwait's central prison last week, 2 Indians -- Suresh Shanmugasundram and Chellapan Kalidas -- got a reprieve, after paying blood money to relatives of their alleged murder victim, a Sri Lankan citizen.
The duo, both of them residents of Chennai, had been arrested along with a Sri Lankan woman, Premila Rekki for the murder of another Sri Lankan woman S Masudha.
According to sources, the Indian embassy had started to provide assistance to the two Chennai residents and helped them to engage a lawyer, Haider Dashti.
After their arrest in July 2008, it took the Kuwaiti judiciary 5 years to convict the 3 accused for the murder and awarded them capital punishment.
Following the announcement of death penalty, the Indian embassy took up the matter with greater urgency and approached the office of the Emir of Kuwait. Similarly, the Ministry of External Affairs also took up the case with the Kuwaiti embassy here in Ne…

China: 3 executed, 4 sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Image
3 men were executed on Tuesday in south China's Hainan Province for trafficking methamphetamine, ketamine and heroin, a local court said Wednesday.
Wang Yihuan was convicted of transporting and selling more than 7.9 kg of ketamine, according to the Intermediate People's Court of the provincial capital of Haikou.
Wu Songlin was found guilty of trafficking 1.15 kg of methamphetamine, while Hou Liangqin was convicted of selling more than 540 grams of heroin and 290 grams of methamphetamine.
In a separate case, six drug dealers were sentenced to death or life imprisonment on Tuesday in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, according to the municipal Intermediate People's Court.
The 6 dealers purchased drugs on Nov. 26, 2011 in Nansan Township in the city of Lincang. Two of them, Yue Jintian and Yao Yubin, were arrested by police at a toll station the next day. Police found a pistol, eight bullets, an ammunition clip and 14 grams of methamphetamine in thei…

Iran: Two hanged for drug trafficking

Image
Iran Human Rights, June 26: Two prisoners were hanged in the prison of Isfahan early this morning, reported the official Iranian media.
According to the Iranian state broadcasting, two prisoners were hanged in the central prison of Isfahan (central Iran) this morning.
The prisoners who were not identified by name were convicted of 3195 grams of crack and 1150 grams of heroin said the report.
Source: Iran Human Rights, June 26, 2013

Texas executes Kimberly McCarthy

Image
Kimberly McCarthy, 52, was put to death by lethal injection at 6:37 p.m. Wednesday, making her one of a small number of women to have been executed.

In her final statement, McCarthy did not mention her status as the 500th inmate to be executed or acknowledge Booth or her family.

"This is not a loss. This is a win. You know where I'm going. I'm going home to be with Jesus. Keep the faith. I love you all," she said, while looking toward her witnesses - her attorney, her spiritual adviser and her ex-husband, New Black Panther Party founder Aaron Michaels.

As the drug started to take effect, McCarthy said, "God is great," before closing her eyes. She took hard, raspy, loud breaths for several seconds before becoming quiet. Then, her chest moved up and down for another minute before she stopped breathing.

Friends and family of Booth told reporters after the execution that they were not conscious that Texas had carried out its 500th execution since 198…

Amnesty International Paints Grim Picture Of Homophobia In Sub-Saharan Africa

Image
Homophobia, including verbal harassment, physical attacks and even murder, has risen to “dangerous” levels across sub-Saharan Africa, warned a report from human rights campaigner group Amnesty International. In a document entitled, “Making Love a Crime: Criminalization of same-sex conduct in sub-Saharan Africa,” Amnesty detailed how laws in many African countries have increased the penalties for same-sex activity, up to and including the introduction of the death penalty.
Homosexuality is currently considered a criminal offense in 38 African nations. Over the past five years, the governments of South Sudan and Burundi have enacted new laws criminalizing homosexual conduct, while Uganda, Liberia and Nigeria have proposed harsher punishments against gays and lesbians. “These attacks -- sometimes deadly -- must be stopped,” said Widney Brown, Amnesty International’s senior director of Law and Policy in a statement.
“No one should be beaten or killed because of who they are attracted to …

China: Prisoner confesses to crime for which another man was executed

Image
A serial killer appealing his death sentence in Hebei province repeated on Tuesday a confession that he committed a rape and murder for which another man was executed almost 20 years ago.
Wang Shujin, a death row prisoner convicted of raping and killing at least four women, repeated his confession during a court hearing in Handan, Hebei province, on Tuesday morning.
Wang made the confession in the hope of clemency, based on the fact that his testimony may clear the name of another man who had been put to death for the crime.
In 1995, 22-year-old Nie Shubin was executed for the rape and murder of a woman identified as Kang in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province.
But when Wang was arrested in 2005, his confessions included a detailed account of what had happened to Kang, sparking speculation among Nie's family and the public that he had been wrongfully executed.
At Tuesday's court hearing, prosecutors argued that Wang's testimony about how he had committed the crime differed signi…

Oklahoma executes Brian Darrell Davis

Image
A man convicted of raping and stabbing to death his live-in girlfriend's mother was executed on Tuesday, more than a week after the governor rejected a parole board recommendation to reduce his sentence to life in prison.
Brian Darrell Davis, 38, was put to death by lethal injection at a state prison. He is the second Oklahoma inmate executed in two weeks and the third in 2013. He was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m.
Davis was convicted of stabbing Josephine "Jody" Sanford, 52, to death and raping her at the apartment he shared with her daughter, Stacey Sanford, and their child. He admitted killing her during a fight in November 2001, but said he had not intended to do so.
Davis gave several versions of the events, but each one included that he returned home from a club early that morning and discovered that his live-in girlfriend Stacey and their 3-year-old daughter were gone. They were staying at a hotel, prosecutors said.
Davis had called Stacey Sanford's mother twi…