Showing posts from September, 2013


USA | Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a terrible opportunity for Trump

"Sometimes it felt like she was America’s last hope. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court judge since 1993, achieved celebrity status during Trump’s four years. Affectionately given the nickname “Notorious R.B.G” by a slew of online followers, she was the subject of superhero memes and the inspiration for much light-hearted merchandise (Urban Outfitters stocks T-shirts emblazoned with her face and her famously blunt quotes, and I gifted a friend in Brooklyn a cuddly Ginsburg doll for her newborn last year.)
Beneath the jokes, the quotes and the well-designed tote bags, however, ran an undercurrent of anxiety and fear. The fact that Supreme Court judges have lifetime appointments meant that many were morbidly obsessed with Ginsburg — who battled cancer on numerous occasions, and died of its complications today — staying alive long enough to get to the election. She herself clearly felt the same way, if NPR’s reports about her dying wishes are to be believed: “My most fervent wish is …

Colorado: Lawyers for James Holmes seek to throw out the death penalty

Lawyers for Aurora movie theater shooting defendant James Holmes want the judge in the case to declare Colorado's death-penalty laws unconstitutional.
In multiple motions filed Friday and made public Tuesday, lawyers for Holmes say the state's death-penalty laws are unconstitutionally arbitrary, that the jury-selection process unfairly skews the jury pool, and that the punishment is sought and used so infrequently in Colorado as to make it cruel and unusual.
"Imposition of the death penalty is rare, unusual, freakish, and inconsistently applied throughout the State of Colorado," the defense lawyers write in 1 motion.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Holmes, whose lawyers have admitted that he killed 12 people and wounded dozens more in an attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater last summer. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
A number of the motions are based on the findings of a study by 2 University of Denver law professors …

Australia's Tony Abbott welcomed to Indonesia by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Tony Abbott has begun his first overseas trip as Prime Minister with a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.
Mr Abbott said choosing to make his first trip to Indonesia showed that he believed in many respects it was Australia’s most important relationship.
Mr Abbott and Dr Yudhoyono and senior ministers were meeting for talks which are expected to cover a range of issues including asylum seekers, education, trade, investment, live cattle exports and a request for Indonesia not to carry out the death penalty on two members of the Bali 9 convicted for drug smuggling.
Source:, September 30, 2013

Hong Kong: Protest against mainland death penalty

Hong Kong demonstrators have urged the mainland to abolish the death penalty. The demand was made during a protest outside the Central Government's Liaison Office in Western.
It follows the execution of Xia Junfeng -- a Shenyang hawker who killed two urban management officials in 2009. His supporters say he acted in self-defense after being beaten.
Source: RTHK, September 30, 2013
Related articles: Chinese Social Media Gripped by Street Vendor's Execution Sep 27, 2013 “Early this morning, the Court sent its people to summon me to see Xia Junfeng for the last time,” Zhang Jing, a young woman in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, wrote on her Sina Weibo microblog account on ... China executes former street vendor, provokes outcry Sep 25, 2013 China's Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against Xia Junfeng, who murdered two officials after a dispute over his streetside stall in 2009, the Shenyang Intermediate People's court in …

Ohio’s lack of access to lethal drug could force change in executions

E.U. companies block states from purchases
COLUMBUS — Ohio is preparing to possibly overhaul its execution procedure for the third time in four years after its access to a lethal drug at the center of its injection process has been blocked again by its manufacturer.
Barring some way the state can acquire more doses of the powerful sedative pentobarbital, as Texas apparently did at the last minute last week, Ohio will tell a federal court by Friday how it plans to carry out lethal injections.
“There will be controversies with each drug,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. The center does not take a position on capital punishment or the methods used to carry it out.
“Some of these are international companies that want to distance themselves from anything that will result in death,” he said. “They want to make drugs that keep people alive. Even a compounding pharmacy [on-demand drug maker] wants to make clean, pure, reliable drugs that will h…

Dubai maid who stabbed co-worker escapes death penalty

Dubai: A woman who stabbed her co-worker to death because she called her crazy — and then stabbed herself in the neck with a meat skewer — has escaped the death sentence after appeal court judges failed to reach a decision. Her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.
Prosecutors accused the 28-year-old Ethiopian housemaid of stabbing her countrywoman co-worker, H.S., 35 times before trying to slit her own throat with a meat skewer.
Prosecution records said F.Y. stabbed H.S. repeatedly with a kitchen knife following a brawl, the reasons for which remain unclear.
The attack happened inside the laundry room of a villa in the Al Bida’a area on July 9.
The defendant entered a not guilty plea before the Dubai Appeal Court.
Records said the accused was taken to hospital with a meat skewer in her neck.
Court records said F.Y. decided to kill H.S. because the latter mocked and talked about her with co-workers at their sponsor’s villa.
The Dubai Appeal Court ruling remains subject to appeal…

Indonesian Presidential Candidate Prabowo Subianto Stepping Up to Help Maid Facing Death Row in Malaysia

Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party chief patron Prabowo Subianto said that he is hiring a top Malaysian lawyer to save an Indonesian maid from a death sentence.
Prabowo said he has met with Wilfrida, the Indonesian maid who is on trial for the 2010 murder of 60-year-old Yeap Seok Pen in her Kampung Lubok, Pasir Mas, home.
Wilfrida has been working since she was 12 and is said to be a victim of human trafficking.
The Malaysian woman allegedly accused the young maid of sleeping with her husband in an argument that turned physical, according to reports in Malaysian media.
Prabowo described Wilfrida’s situation as reprehensible, saying she did not get enough legal help and that he had tried to contact the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur via telephone but had not received a response.
Prabowo said the lawyer appointed by the Indonesian embassy to assist her in the death trial only met her a few hours before the trial and therefore he has now hired one of Malaysia’s top lawyers, T…

USA: Use of Propofol In Executions Could Result In Anesthetic Shortage, EU Sanctions

The state of Missouri plans to execute a death row inmate next month using for the first time a lethal dose of the widely-used anesthesia drug propofol. The European Union (EU), where most of the U.S. propofol supply is manufactured and capital punishment is banned, is warning that export sanctions may be imposed on the drug, which could cause shortages in the U.S. that may endanger patients’ lives.
Propofol made headlines recently for being the drug that claimed the life of Michael Jackson. In clinical practice, propofol is the anesthetic of choice, used in four out of five anesthetic procedures. Every year, 50 million vials of propofol are administered in 15,000 hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S, according to the Associated Press. Anesthesiologists prefer using propofol over other sedatives because it works quickly and patients wake up sooner with less side effects.
As for death by lethal injection, propofol has yet to be tested much less studied. Opponents to the death pena…

Yemen: Islamist gunmen "execute" suspected homosexual

It is the sixth such murder since the start of the year
Aden: Gunmen have shot dead a Yemeni man in the south of the country because they suspected he was homosexual, police have said.
One of two men on a motorbike opened fire at the man in his twenties late on Thursday outside his house in Huta, the capital of Lahij province, killing him on the spot.
Police said the attackers, presumed Islamist militants, escaped after the killing, the sixth such murder since the start of the year.
Similar killings in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation’s provinces of Abyan and Aden have been blamed on an Al Qaida-affiliated group, Ansar Al Sharia.
For the past year, Ansar Al Sharia has imposed Islamic law in areas of Abyan where it still holds sway.
Its so-called courts have tried and condemned to death several people accused of different crimes. Others have had hands amputated after being “convicted” of theft.
After an army offensive in May 2012 ousted the militants from areas they controlled…

China court rejects killer's claim to additional murder

A Chinese court has rejected a convicted killer's claim that he was responsible for the rape and murder of a woman in 1994, Chinese media report.
Wang Shujin, who has been sentenced to death for raping three other women, murdering two of them, argued that he had also committed the 1994 crime.
Wang had appealed against his sentence, saying it should be reduced given his "confession" to the 1994 killing.
Another man was executed in 1995 after being found guilty of the 1994 crime.
A court gave Wang the death penalty in 2007. However, Wang appealed, on the basis that "prosecutors had not yet prosecuted him for the [additional] rape and murder that took place in [Hebei capital] Shijiazhuang" in 1994, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
On Friday, the Hebei Provincial Higher People's Court upheld Wang's death sentence, and dismissed his claim that he conducted the 1994 killing.
Wang "used violent methods to rape three women... and killed two of them&…

Tennessee Switching to 'Single Drug' Execution Protocol

The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) announced Friday that it will switch to a new procedure for court ordered executions.
TDOC will now use what is known as a single drug protocol, replacing the previously used three-drug method. The protocol permits sole use of the sedative pentobarbital.
Numerous states across the country have changed to the single drug method in light of a widespread shortage of thiopental sodium, one of the three drugs used in the three drug protocal. The sole U.S. maker of thiopental sodium decided to halt production in 2011 amid a campaign by death-penalty opponents. Makers of other drugs used in executions have come under similar pressure.
Georgia made the change in 2012. Pentobarbital is most commonly used to euthanize animals
The drug was used just this week to execute a Texas man, the 13th execution carried out in Texas this year.
The last execution carried out in Tennessee was Cecil Johnson on Dec. 2, 2009. There are currently 79 inmates held on …

Executed Texas death-row inmate Rickey Lynn Lewis buried in Montpellier, France

Rickey Lynn Lewis had never set foot in France. Yet his ashes were buried today [Sept 27, 2013] in the French city of Montpellier (southern France).
Rickey Lynn Lewis, an East Texas man convicted of killing a man and raping his fiancee in 1990, was executed in Huntsville, Texas on April 9, 2013 after spending 19 years on Texas death row. 
Lewis always acknowledged the rape, but not the killing.
"If I hadn't raped you, you wouldn't have lived," he told the rape victim in the moments before the single lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered. "I didn't kill Mr. Newman and I didn't rob your house.
Lewis was adopted by Danielle and René Sirven, a French couple of anti-death penalty activists, in 2003. They stood by his side until the day of his execution by lethal injection in April 2013.
Danielle and René Sirven organized a posthumous ceremony in his memory on September 27 in the French city of Montpellier. The ceremony was attended by friends and fe…

Texas resolves lethal injection shortfall

Texas, the US state that puts to death the most inmates, has resolved a shortfall of a lethal execution drug, according to authorities Friday.
Last month, an official told AFP that the state's stock of pentobarbital had nearly run out and would only last through September.
Pentobarbital was used in an execution late Thursday "and it was not expired," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark told AFP.
It was unclear whether that dose was part of an old or new supply of the anesthetic used to euthanize animals.
Clark declined to provide any specifics but suggested the problem of replenishing the state's stock of the killer drug had been resolved.
"We have not changed our execution protocol in which pentobarbital is used and have no immediate plans to do so," Clark said.
"We will continue to use pentobarbital in the future."
In August, authorities said the state would have to find an alternative -- either another provider for the p…

Chinese Social Media Gripped by Street Vendor's Execution

“Early this morning, the Court sent its people to summon me to see Xia Junfeng for the last time,” Zhang Jing, a young woman in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, wrote on her Sina Weibo microblog account on Wednesday morning. “I feel like I’m going crazy, but I’m getting ready to go now.” Accompanied by police escorts, she then rode to the detention center where her 36-year-old husband had been held for the last four years. After they said their last goodbyes, he was put to death—marking the tragic end of case that has sparked outrage and despair across China.
Xia, a laid-off factory worker, began selling sausages and kabobs from a street cart in Shenyang about five years ago. His wife, meanwhile, juggled two jobs as a hotel cleaning lady and a baker at a school. The couple managed to scrape by until one day in May 2009, when Xia was confronted by two chengguan—or low-level urban security officers—for operating as an unlicensed street vendor. After a bloody altercation, both…

Texas executes Arturo Diaz

A Texas man who stabbed another man to death when he failed to pay back a $100 debt to an exotic dancer was executed on Thursday.
The execution of Arturo Diaz by lethal injection took place at 6:13 p.m. CT in Huntsville. It is the 13th execution this year in Texas and the 27th in the United States.

Diaz smiled and blew a kiss to several witnesses watching through a window, including his mother and grandmother.

He then turned to the father of his victim, watching through an adjacent window to the death chamber. "I hope this can bring some relief for you and your family," he told him.

Diaz's reaction to the drug was similar to other Texas inmates who have been executed with pentobarbital. He took several deep breaths, began snoring and ceased movement in less than a minute.
He was pronounced dead 17 minutes later, at 6:30 p.m. CDT.
Diaz, 37, was convicted of killing Michael Ryan Nichols in April 1999 in McAllen near the Mexican border, after the 2 spent a night party…

Day of judgement: Inside a Gaza murder trial

Human rights groups have condemned the use of the death penalty under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. This week, BBC Arabic's Shahdi Alkashif obtained rare access to a murder trial where 3 defendants faced death sentences.
In a small room in the basement of a court building in Gaza City, 3 members of the same family were on trial, accused of killing a relative in December 2010.
2 young men and 1 man in his 50s stood in a black metal cage in a corner of the room as prosecutors accused them of shooting 28-year-old Mohammed Ashram, who was an official in the Hamas government in Gaza, during an argument over money.
The cage was surrounded by security guards with long beards, and on the back wall there was a plaque bearing words from the Koran: "When you judge between men, you judge with justice."
The judge, a man in his 40s also with a long beard, was seated opposite, with advisers to his right and left, as well as a young woman wearing a veil who recorded proceedings.
Also c…

Ottawa welcomes release of Iranian-Canadian from Iran’s death row

The federal government is calling the release of an Iranian-Canadian man who had been facing death row in Tehran a welcomed symbolic step from Iran.
Hamid Ghassemi-Shall was arrested in 2008 by Iranian police and charged with espionage. He was sentenced to death in 2009.
"We are obviously pleased that he has been able to be back with his family,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters in Montreal on Tuesday. “We want to encourage him obviously to return to Canada immediately before the situation changes."
But Baird warned that there is still a long way to go in order to improve Iranian relations.
"We want to see meaningful progress on human rights. It has an abysmal human rights record and that matters. We also want to see it take back steps from supporting terrorism," he said.
On Monday, Ghassemi-Shall's wife, Antonella Mega said she spoke with her husband after his release, but did not know when he would be leaving Iran.
"He sounds OK,"…

Ohio executes Harry Mitts Jr.

Harry Mitts Jr. executed by lethal injection this morning at Lucasville, following 20 years in prison
A WHITE gunman who spewed racial slurs before fatally shooting a black man and a police officer in a 1994 rampage that prosecutors called one of the worst Ohio has seen was executed Wednesday with the state's last use of its execution drug.
Harry Mitts Jr. asked the families of his victims to forgive him, saying he had carried the burden of his crimes with him for 19 years.
"I had no business doing what I did," he said in a last statement to six witnesses representing his victims. Two clergy members and a friend were also in attendance.
Mitts, 61, was pronounced dead at 10.39am by lethal injection of the powerful sedative pentobarbital at the state prison in Lucasville, Ohio after years of acknowledging his crimes and repenting. The state's supply of pentobarbital is expiring, and a new execution method will be announced later.
Mitts was convicted of aggravated murde…

Chinese Man Sentenced to Death for Killing Toddler

A Beijing court on Wednesday convicted a man of murder and sentenced him to death for hurling a toddler to the ground in a case that horrified the Chinese public.
The 2-year-old girl was severely injured and died in a hospital days after the incident. Her attacker, Han Lei, fled the scene, but police caught him the following day. In court, he said he thought he had been throwing a shopping cart to the ground.
The July 23 incident in a southern district of Beijing started with a dispute as the girl and her mother were waiting at a bus stop, the Beijing court system said in a statement on its official microblog.
The court said Han, 39, was looking for a parking space when he got out of his car, telling the mother that the carriage was in his way for parking. It said Han beat the woman to the ground, grabbed the girl from her carriage and raised her above his head before throwing her to the ground.
"At that time I didn't know it was a baby carriage. I thought because the woman …

China executes former street vendor, provokes outcry

China on Wednesday executed a street food vendor who drew widespread sympathy after fatally stabbing two "heavy-handed" security officials, provoking outraged webusers to denounce his death penalty as unjust.
China's Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against Xia Junfeng, who murdered two officials after a dispute over his streetside stall in 2009, the Shenyang Intermediate People's court in northeast China said in a verified social media account.
Xia had appealed his sentence on the grounds he killed the two officers in self-defence when they savagely attacked him and others in the city of Shenyang as he barbecued food on the street.
Xia's case drew widespread sympathy amid regular reports of abuses by China's quasi-police city management officials.
The officials, known as chengguan, "have earned a reputation for brutality and impunity... They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention, and theft," a …

British woman faces death penalty in Indonesia for alleged drug trafficking

Andrea Ruth Waldeck, 43, was arrested in April after authorities found 1,472 grams (52 ounces) of crystal methamphetamine in her underwear at her hotel room in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province.
Prosecutor Deddy Agus Oktavianto said police had followed Waldeck out of Surabaya's international airport after receiving a tip that she was carrying the drugs.
The trial started Monday at Surabaya's district court. Waldeck, a teacher from Rustington, West Sussex, could face a firing squad if found guilty, Oktavianto said.
Waldeck told authorities that her boyfriend, who lives in China, had ordered her to bring the drugs to a man in Indonesia in exchange for £3,1000, the prosecutor said.
She is expected to give a statement in the next court hearing on Monday.
Foreigners are regularly charged with drugs offences in Indonesia, which has some of the world's toughest anti-narcotics laws, but most are caught in Bali.
Last month, Indonesia's Supreme Court upheld the death …

Four Hanged in Southeastern Iran Today; Three to Be Hanged Tomorrow

Iran Human Rights, September 24: Four prisoners were hanged in the prison of Kerman (southeastern Iran) today Tuesday September 24, reported the state run Iranian news agencies.
The prisoners who were identified as "Farzad T.", "Masoud Kh.", "Meysam S." and "Ali M." were charged with rape, immoral relationship, kidnapping and robbery, said the report.
According to reliable sources from Iran 3 prisoners are scheduled to be executed in Rajai SHahr Prison tomorrow morning Wednesday September 25. The prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement earlier today.
Source: Iran Human Rights, September 25, 2013

OHIO: Harry Mitts Jr., who shot and killed man, Garfield Heights police officer in 1994, nears execution

LUCASVILLE, Ohio - Ohio is preparing to execute a white gunman who spewed racial slurs before fatally shooting a black man and a police officer in a 1994 rampage at his suburban Cleveland apartment complex. The lethal injection is the last before the state's supply of execution drug expires.
Sixty-one-year-old Harry Mitts Jr. is scheduled to die Wednesday at the state prison in Lucasville after years of acknowledging his crimes and saying he's repented.
Mitts was convicted of aggravated murder and attempted murder in the rampage against random neighbors and responding police officers. He killed John Bryant, a neighbor's black boyfriend, and a white Garfield Heights police sergeant, Dennis Glivar.
Mitts has been on constant watch heading into the 10 a.m. execution after two recent high-profile prison suicides. He arrived at the death house Tuesday morning.

The Ohio Parole Board was unanimous in its recommendation against clemency, advice followed by Republican Gov. John K…

Ohio Court Dismisses Charges And Bars Retrial of Former Death Row Inmates

On September 19 the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's dismissal of all charges against Thomas Keenan, a former death row inmate sentenced to death for a 1988 murder. The appeals court also barred the state from retrying Keenan.
His co-defendant, Joseph D'Ambrosio, was fully exonerated in 2012 based on similar state misconduct to that found in Keenan's trial.
Keenan's conviction was overturned by a U.S. District Court in 2012 because the state had withheld vital evidence from the defense. After spending nearly 20 years on death row, Keenan was released, but the state said it intended to retry him. However, the trial court found the state's misconduct so offensive that it precluded any further prosecution, noting that "in the interest of justice and fairness, the harm done to defendant Keenan has been so egregious that this is the extraordinary case where the court has no other option but to grant the motion to dismiss." In upholding that deci…

Iran: Execution of Juvenile Offender Mohammad (Maher) Ayashi Postponed; Still at Risk of Execution

Iran Human Rights, September 24: Execution of the juvenile offender Mohammad (Maher) Ayashi, that was scheduled to take place this morning has been postponed.
According to reports from Iran Mr. Ayashi’s execution has only been postponed and can happen in the coming days.
Last week another juvenile offender was executed in Kazeroun, convicted of a murder that he allegedly committed at the age of 14.
Iran Human Rights (IHR) emphasizes that Mohammad Ayashi is still in danger of execution and the international community must keep up its efforts to save his life.
Source: Iran Human Rights, September 24, 2013

Iran: Prisoner executed for murder committed at age 14; another juvenile offender scheduled for execution tomorrow
Iran Human Rights, September 23: According to local media in Iran, a juvenile offender was executed in Kazeroun (southern Iran) last week.
According to the local newspaper, "Kazeroun-e-ma", an 18-year-old, who was convicted of committing a murder when he was 14, …

UAE: Housemaid to die for killing infant

An Indonesian housemaid who brutally killed a 4-month-old daughter of her employer by smashing her head against a table's edge has been convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to death.
The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court, on Monday, handed down the death penalty to the domestic helper according to the Shariah law, and after the parents of the victim insisted in retribution and refused to pardon the maid.
The incident took place before midnight of April 28 this year. The housemaid hit the baby girl's head with a solid object, causing her skull to fracture and leading to brain hemorrhage and her eventual death.
The horrific incident sent shock waves among the UAE society and was widely covered by the local media. According to court records, the accused smashed the baby's head with a solid object that caused her skull to fracture and brain hemorrhage, as she was jealous of the girl's nanny.
The CCTV cameras in the house captured the accused carrying the girl away from t…

Malaysia: Too young to be hanged

Boy convicted of multiple murders to be detained at the pleasure of Head of State
SIBU: The High Court here yesterday found a teenage boy guilty of murdering four members of a family in their house at RTM Road in January last year.
However, because he was under 18 when he committed the murders the boy escaped the death sentence and was ordered to be detained in prison pending a decision on his fate by the Head of State.
The boy, who was also charged with an attempted murder, has to stay behind bars for eight years.
The youth, now 19, was found guilty of murdering businessman Ling Tong Hock, 36, Ling’s 76-year-old mother Leong Nyuk Lan, son David Ling Chei Qi, 10 and daughter Amy Ling Zi Jiun, 7, by bludgeoning them to death with a steel hammer.
He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Ling’s other son Kelvin Ling Chei You in their house at RTM Road about 7am on Jan 3, 2012.
In her judgement, Judge Supang Lian said that at the time of the offence, the youth was only 17 years…

China’s Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life in Prison

BEIJING — A court in China has sentenced fallen political star Bo Xilai to life in prison, finding him guilty of all of the three charges brought against him.
Bo was sentenced to life in prison for bribery, 15 years for the charge of corruption and seven years for abuse of power. The court says it has confiscated more than $3 million in assets from the family, including a villa in the south of France.
The 64-year-old former Chongqing Communist Party boss was also stripped of his political rights and ability to hold office.
Bo has 10 days to appeal the ruling. According to a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, he is likely to launch an appeal.
Although Bo has been sentenced to life in prison, he is eligible for parole in a little over a decade, according to Chinese law. Political analysts say that it is likely that he could be released even sooner, much like other victims of political purges in the past.
Despite the charges against Bo, he is still widely popular in…