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

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…

Egypt: 26 face death penalty over Suez Canal plot

An Egyptian court has sentenced 26 people to death for conspiring to attack ships transiting the Suez Canal.

The defendants were accused and found guilty of “founding and leading a terror group that aimed to attack peoples freedom, damage national unity and attack the Suez Canal waterway” says an official statement by the Cairo Criminal Court.

This includes plans to attack ships passing the canal, security buildings, foreign tourists and local police.

A verdict was given after a single session. Only one defendant, less than 18 years old, managed to escape the death sentence.

The case has been passed on to the Grand Mufti, a top Muslim cleric who must approve all executions, with a final decision to be made on March 19th.

Defendants were charged in absentia. If and when they are finally caught, they will be allowed a re-trial. According to the Washington Post it is common for defendants to receive the death penalty when tried in absentia.

Terrorist activity along the canal has been on the increase in recent years, since the ousting of Egyptian president Hosri Mubarak in 2011. Tensions were only fuelled further by the forced expulsion of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi in July 2013 via military intervention.

Many of the attacks have been supposedly committed by Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, an al-Qaida linked organisation.

Another group, Furqan Bridgades made several claims in regards to attacks along the canal last year.

It is unknown whether the convicted men in question are associated with either group.

However, according to Times of India, the trial covers a series of offences that happened before the Arab Spring uprising, at some time between 2004 and 2009.

Source: Port Technology, Feb. 27, 2014

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