Texas: Gov. Abbott should grant death row inmate Rodney Reed a reprieve, before it’s too late

Convicted murderer Rodney Reed is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Nov. 20, but Gov. Greg Abbott has the power to stop it.
As it stands, there’s no indication that Abbott will. He has only stopped one execution since becoming governor 5 years ago.
Reed was sentenced to death in 1998, after being convicted of the brutal 1996 rape and killing of a 19-year-old woman from central Texas, Stacey Stites. And though the governor has yet to weigh in on this specific case, he supports capital punishment, as do most voters in the state. According to a June 2018 poll from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune, fully three-fourths of Texans strongly or somewhat support the death penalty.
But the question at hand has nothing to do with the death penalty, per se. Granting a reprieve would simply be the right thing to do — and a necessary precaution against the doubts that would linger, if Reed is executed as scheduled.
Reed has consistently maintained his innocence, and legitimate questions …

Former British soldier on death row in the Congo to go on trial for 'murder' of best friend

Tjostolv Moland and Joshua French
Tjostolv Moland and Joshua French
Joshua French is accused of killing pal Tjostolv Moland while they were both in prison for another murder

A British man waiting on death row in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will face trial tomorrow, accused of the murder of his cellmate and best friend.

Former soldier Joshua French and Tjostolv Moland were sentenced to death in 2009 after being found guilty of espionage and murder.

Both men maintained their innocence, but were convicted for a 2nd time of the same offences in June 2010 following a military retrial branded a "farce" by campaigners.

But Mr French, who served in the Parachute Regiment, now faces a fresh murder charge after Mr Moland was found dead in the prison cell they shared on August 18 last year, despite an initial inquiry which found he had taken his own life.

Legal charity Reprieve has now written to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling on the British Government to intervene to prevent the trial.

At very least, they say the case should be transferred to a civilian court as it is set to be held in a military court, in violation of the DRC's constitution and international law.

It is understood that discussions had been taking place to transfer Mr French to a prison in Norway, but the latest court proceedings have thrown this in to jeopardy.

Mr French's mother, Kari Hilde, said: "Joshua has already lost his best friend and nearly 5 years of his life. Now he's being falsely accused of murder. How much more will he have to endure before the British Government takes serious action?"

Reprieve said a post-mortem examination conducted jointly by Congolese Police and the Norwegian police agency Kripos confirmed that Mr Moland had committed suicide.

Mr Moland's father has written to the Congolese authorities asking for the charges against Mr French to be dropped but the request has not been answered.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve's death penalty team, said: "The Government has already tarried too long.

"These are sham charges and the Prime Minister needs to intervene without delay to protect the rights of British citizen, Joshua French. If the trial goes ahead in a military court, Joshua may well be given a death sentence, and all hopes of him leaving the prison alive will be dashed."

Mr French and Mr Moland were convicted of murdering Abedi Kasongo, who had been hired to drive the 2 former soldiers after their motorbike broke down in April 2009. The 47-year-old driver was shot in the head 70 miles (113km) east of Kisangani.

French and Moland denied responsibility. They claimed that unknown gunmen ambushed them in the middle of a dense rainforest.

The trial saw witnesses provide conflicting testimonies and lacked physical evidence, Reprieve said.

It is also claimed that Mr French was beaten and subjected to a mock execution before being forced to sign a confession.

The prosecution told the courts that Mr Moland wrote a letter confessing he was a spy and was responsible for killing Mr Kasongo.

But the letter has never been given to his defence team.

At the retrial, both men were forced to stand for more than 6 hours in heat upwards of 40C (104F), it was claimed.

Mr French, who spent his childhood in Margate, Kent, trained as a British paratrooper before serving in the Norwegian army, where he met Mr Moland.

Both men left the forces in 2007 and worked as security guards in a number of locations.

Source: Daily Mail, January 6, 2014

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