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Showing posts from August, 2014

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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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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…

VP makes plea for 2 Pinoys on death row

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Vice President Jejomar Binay on Saturday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to extend full assistance to 2 Filipinos sentenced to die in Vietnam for trafficking in illegal drugs.
Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' Concerns said that Emmanuel Sillo Camacho, 39, was found guilty by a Hanoi Court for carrying 18 packets of cocaine which weighed 3.4 kilograms.
Another Filipino, Donna Buenagua Mazon, 39, was earlier sentenced to die in Ho Chi Minh City after being caught with 1.5 kilograms of Cocaine in December 2013.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose assured the Vice President that his department will extend all necessary consular and legal assistance to the 2 Filipino nationals.
"Our Embassy in Hanoi will extend to them all necessary and appropriate assistance - consular and legal," Jose told the reporters on Saturday.
However, Jose admitted that they have yet to receive such incident from our Consular Affairs office.
Jose stressed …

Clayton Lockett didn't die of heart attack, Oklahoma official autopsy shows

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The official autopsy report into the death of Clayton Lockett, whose botched execution by Oklahoma sparked a nationwide debate on capital punishment, has revealed that state officials riddled him with puncture marks in an attempt to find a vein into which they could inject lethal drugs.
Though the report does not settle the question of how Lockett died, concluding only that the cause of death was “judicial execution by lethal injection”, it does underline the extraordinary lengths to which the execution team went in trying to kill him. It records evidence of 16 needle puncture marks in locations all over his body – from his upper chest and jugular region, to his upper arm, elbow pit, wrist, groin and foot.
A more complete understanding of what went wrong in the 29 April execution may be given by the official inquiry into what happened that was ordered by Oklahoma’s governor Mary Fallin. The state has indicated that it will release the report within the next few days.
Lockett, 38, was…

Japan: Two Death Row Inmates Hanged; 10th and 11th Executions Since Abe Took Office

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TOKYO — Japan executed a mobster and a killer arsonist on Friday, bringing to 11 the total number of death sentences carried out since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took power in 2012.
The executions came days before Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet amid speculation that he will appoint a new justice minister, whose approval is needed for any sentence to be carried out.
“I ordered the executions after careful consideration,” Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki told reporters.
The executed men were both multiple killers.
Tsutomu Takamizawa, 59, a gang boss in the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest yakuza grouping, was convicted of shooting three people dead between 2001 and 2005, the justice ministry said.
Mitsuhiro Kobayashi, a 56-year-old former taxi driver, was convicted of killing five people and seriously injuring four others in 2001 by setting fire to a consumer loan office, in Aomori, northern Japan.
Surveys have shown the death penalty has overwhelming public support in Japan,…

Egypt: 2 Morsi supporters get death penalty, 43 others life in jail

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Sentences from Minya court relate to violence that broke out last August, as part of nationwide unrest after Mohamed Morsi's ouster
An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced two supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to death and 43 others - including a minor - to jail terms from 1 year to life, in several cases relating to violence after Morsi's removal last summer, state-run news agency MENA said.
The Minya court - in Upper Egypt - also acquitted 28 others.
The sessions included a retrial for 23 defendants who were tried in absentia and sentenced to death and life in jail. Defendants in the case in Matay, Minya governorate, faced charges of attacking policemen and torching a police station.
The court also issued verdicts in 6 other cases, all in connection to retribution violence that broke out after the forceful dispersal of two main sit-ins held by Morsi supporters in Cairo and which left hundreds dead.
The same court previously sentenced 529 to death - later …

Bali Nine clemency bids still 'in process'

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Indonesia's president will not intervene in the case of two Australian men on death row, and his office says improved relations between Canberra and Jakarta will have no bearing on their fate.
A decision on Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, members of the so-called Bali Nine, has been in the hands of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for about two years.
There are hopes the president, who has given special focus to Indonesia's relationship with Australia, might grant clemency before he leaves office on October 20.
The signing of a new intelligence pact with Australia, which took place in Bali on Thursday, was seen as Dr Yudhoyono ensuring ties with Australia are in good shape before he departs.
But his spokesman on foreign affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, says the bilateral relationship is separate from the cases of the condemned Australians.
"It has nothing to do with bilateral relations," he told AAP on Friday.
"We respect the rule of law, and the executive cannot intervene …

Iran: Man hanged in public in Sarab; man pardoned in 1996 due for execution again

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A man, identified only with his first name Daryoush, was hanged in prison in the western city of Sarab (East Azarbaijan province) on Wednesday, 27 August 2014.
The death sentence was implemented after head of the Judiciary, representing the Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, authorised it. 
The prisoner was accused of being the main culprit in killing a young man in a fight. His brother, Akbar, was convicted as his accomplice, but his sentence was not reported.
Source: Agencies, August 29, 2014


Iran: Man pardoned in 1996 due for execution again

A man identified only with his first name Niaz-Ali is facing the death penalty. He has been detained three weeks ago and sentenced to death for the second time. 
After being convicted for killing his business partner in 1992, he was sentenced to death and hanged in March 1996. The medics confirmed his death after 20 minutes of hanging, but he was found to be alive on the way to the Coroner's Office. 
The victim's parents withdrew their complain…

Amnesty International calls on Yudhoyono to save Indonesian national from death row

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Global rights organization Amnesty International (AI) is urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to postpone the execution of Siti Zainab binti Duhri Rupa, an Indonesian migrant worker on death row.
AI said it had sent a letter to Yudhoyono to convey its response to information that Siti Zainab would be executed. Siti Zainab was sentenced to death for allegedly killing her employer in Saudi Arabia in 1999.
The organization said in its statement that it did not aim to ask for clemency for Siti Zainab’s alleged crime. “However, we also want to convey that we oppose death punishment regardless of the situation,” it said as quoted by kompas.com.
In its letter to President Yudhoyono, AI said it was the right and responsibility of a government in a country to bring an alleged criminal perpetrator to justice.
AI further said, however, that it opposed the death penalty, which it considered the most extreme form of torture. The death sentence also vi…

Oklahoma: Lawsuit Filed To Allow Media To Witness Entire Executions

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Oklahoma Corrections officials are being sued for violating the constitution in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
2 newspapers, the Oklahoma Observer and The Guardian U.S., filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court today, naming the DOC Director Robert Patton and the warden of the state penitentiary, Anita Trammell, as defendants.
The suit alleges, in the execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014, the plaintiffs - and the news media as a whole - were prevented from witnessing the entire process, as is provided for in both the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions.
Specifically, the suit points to the fact that the shade between the viewing room and the execution chamber was not opened until 6:23 p.m., more than an hour after Lockett had been brought into the chamber. According to the post-incident report provided by the Department of Corrections, it was during that period that a phlebotomist struggled to insert the IV that would deliver the lethal drugs to Lockett.
"By preve…

Iran: 5 hanged including a citizen of Pakistan

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5 men were hanged on Tuesday (August 26) in the main prison in city of Bandar-Abbas, southern Iran. 
1 of the prisoners is a Pakistani citizen who had been arrested in Iran for drug related offence.
On Monday, the authorities in Bandar Abbas prison had transferred the 5 men to solitary confinement to await their execution.
The prisoners were identified as: Edris Hassan Zadeh,35, Sajad Rezapour, 25, Mansour Hetdari, 33, Mohammad Balouch, 55, and Mehdi Hashemi.
Since Hassan Rouhani has assumed office as the president of the Iranian regime, there has been a rise in human rights violations in Iran. Some 800 have been executed in Iran during the past year in Iran, including many in public.
Source: NCR-Iran, August 27, 2014

Japanese Lawmaker On Trial In China For Drug Trafficking, Faces Death Penalty

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Takuma Sakuragi, a 70-year-old Japanese politician, today went on trial for trafficking 3.3 kg of the drug methamphetamine. Sakuragi was arrested last year in the city of Guangzhou en route to Shanghai when local authorities found 28 bags of the narcotic in his luggage.
At the time of his October arrest, Sukuragi, said to be a city councilor in Aichi, Japan, told police the luggage in question came from a Nigerian business associate he met while in China. According to the arrest report, the African had given the Japanese lawmaker the suitcase where the drugs were concealed inside women's platform boots.
Local outlets report Sakuragi is standing trial with 2 other defendants, also from Africa. They were named as Aly Yattabare and Mohamed Soumah. Drug trafficking carries the death penalty per Chinese law. 4 Japanese citizens were executed in 2010 for possessing drugs, and China has recently instigated a harsh and well-publicized crackdown in its entertainment community for drug pos…

3 Mexicans Facing Death Penalty Prepare for Last Appeal in Malaysia

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3 Mexican brothers sentenced to death in Malaysia are preparing to file their last appeal before the Federal Court in Malaysia, which could hold the hearing before the end of the year, the defense said.
"The hearing will most probably take place before the end of the year, the Federal Court judges have to review a lot of documents pertaining to the case," Kitson Foong, the lawyer of Mexicans Luis Alfonso, Simon and Jose Regino Gonzalez Villarreal, told Efe.
According to Foong, the brothers are being held in jail in the state of Pahang, some 185 km northwest of Kuala Lumpur.
The Mexicans were arrested on March 4, 2008 in a police raid in the southern city of Johor along with a Malaysian and a Singaporean citizen who have also been given the death penalty.
All 5 were found in the vicinity of a ship where police agents seized 29 kilograms of methamphetamine valued at $15 million, 1/3 of which disappeared in police custody.
The Gonzalez Villarreal brothers, natives of the state…

Nebraska 'too busy' to focus on death penalty

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Corrections department has been busy with other issues, including questions over the early release of some inmates
Nebraska's attorney general says the state's corrections department has been too busy dealing with other problems to focus on resolving drug shortages that have halted executions in the state, which hasn't carried out the death penalty in 17 years.
Attorney General Jon Bruning told The Associated Press he's confident Nebraska will resume executions but it could be years before officials can work out a new approach using different drugs or a new supplier.
He notes the corrections department has been busy with other issues, including questions over the early release of some inmates.
Nebraska lost its only approved method to carry out executions when its supply of one drug used in the process expired in December.
Source: Associated Press, August 25, 2014

Oklahoma: An Execution, Censored

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On April 29, 2014, Clayton Lockett was scheduled to die by lethal injection at the hands of the State of Oklahoma. Under a state law that requires public witnesses to all executions, 12 journalists gathered to observe his death.
They never saw it.
Before the scheduled execution, the reporters were ushered into a media room where a glass partition, covered by a "viewing blind," separated them from the execution chamber. When the blind opened, Clayton Lockett lay before them strapped to a gurney. He had already been in there for almost an hour, getting poked with needles until a member of the execution team - of unknown training and background - finally set an IV line in Lockett's femoral vein, near his groin. Preliminary findings suggest this femoral IV played a role in Lockett's prolonged and torturous execution. Since there were no witnesses, we have only the state's account of how properly these IV procedures were carried out.
But that's certainly not all …

Gaza crisis: Hamas executes 4 suspected Israeli spies

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Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, continued with its executions of "collaborators", killing 4 more Palestinians suspected of spying for Israel.
Masked Hamas militants fatally shot the Palestinians in the courtyard of a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp on charges of spying for the enemy yesterday. Hamas-affiliated Al-Majd website quoted security sources as saying that the 4 were executed in a "revolutionary" way after "legal measures were completed".
The website has warned that future collaborators would be dealt with in the field to create deterrence. The Islamist faction declined to release the names or pictures of the executed for the sake of social stability, fearing backlash against their families. The executions raise the total number of Palestinian "suspects" paraded to their deaths to 25; 18 of them were executed on Friday and 3 on Thursday.
Hamas has warned that Israel will "pay the price" for killing 3 top leaders of i…

Iran: Man hanged in public in the city of Borazjan

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A man was hanged in public in the southern city of Borazjan (Bushehr province) on Sunday, 24 August 2014, for reportedly killing two women, kidnapping and theft. 
The city's Islamic Revolution Court had issued the death sentence and Branch 11 of the Supreme Court upheld it. 
The death sentence was implemented, as is customary, after head of the Judiciary authorised it.
Source: League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), August 26, 2014

Iran: Man hanged in public in the city of Sari

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A man identified only as Soheil R., who reportedly killed his brother and cousin last winter and later his wife during a conjugal visit, was hanged in public in Sari, provincial capital of Mazandaran in northern Iran, on Sunday morning, 24 August 2014. The authorities did not provide details of his trial.
Source: League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), August 25, 2014

Photos of the execution:









Iran - Human Rights: Prisoner's four fingers amputated in public

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NCRI - An Iranian man's four fingers were amputated in public in city of Abarkooh in southern Iran, a commander police in the southern province of Yazd has declared, state-run Tabnak website reported on Friday.
Colonel Ahmad Gholamzadeh said the four fingers of the right hand of a prisoner were amputated at the presence of State Security Forces and judicial authorities in the city.
He said: "The prisoner, M.N. (identified by his initials), had been sentenced to amputation of four fingers in public, one year imprisonment and payment of fines for illegitimately obtaining property."
He added: "The amputation of the prisoner's right hand four fingers were carried out outside the city's detention center in public using a 'guillotine' machine."
During the first year of Hassan Rouhani's presidency over 800 have been executed and hundreds more have been subjected to degrading and inhumane punishments such as amputation, flogging in public and being…

The Witness

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For more than a decade, it was Michelle Lyons's job to observe the final moment of death row inmates -- but watching 278 executions didin't come without a cost.
Early one morning in April, Michelle Lyons pulled up outside her daughter’s elementary school in Huntsville, seventy miles north of Houston. Set deep in the Piney Woods, Huntsville—which is home to no fewer than five prisons—is a company town whose primary industry is confinement. Many parents who were dropping their children off at school that day worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Huntsville’s largest employer. Michelle, who sat behind the wheel of her blue Chevy sedan nursing a travel mug of coffee, had worked for TDCJ herself for more than a decade. She had been the public face of the agency, a disarmingly friendly, upbeat spokesperson for the biggest prison system in the nation. Though she had left the position two years earlier, she was still well-known around town, and several mothers waved as …

China executes 8 militants from Xinjiang for Tiananmen attack

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China has executed eight militants from the restive Xinjiang province for "terrorist attacks," including three who masterminded a suicide attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 2013, killing three people and wounding 39 others.
The executions took place after Supreme People's Court upheld their death sentence.
The crimes involved five cases including the terrorist attack at the iconic Forbidden City in the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, seizing of guns from police in Aksu, illegal manufacturing of explosives and murder of civilian in Kashgar,and the establishment of terrorist organisation, murder of government officials and incineration of checkpoint in Hotan.
The news of the executions were released by the official media late last night and television showed all of them facing trial.
Xinjiang, where the native Uygur Muslims were restive over the increasing settlements of Hans from other provinces facedincreasing attacks stated to have been organised by the East Tur…

ISIS: "Jihadi John" reportedly identified

British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 have identified the man suspected of the horrific beheading of American journalist James Foley, according to UK media reports.
The hooded man with an English accent is believed to be 23-year-old Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, known to fellow Islamic State militants as Jihadi John.
The former rapper left his family home in an affluent west London suburb last year to fight in the civil war in Syria.
Source: Agencies, August 24, 2014

Mom’s killer beheaded in Saudi

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A Saudi man who was convicted of murdering his mother was beheaded in the Gulf kingdom on Thursday, newspapers reported on Friday, quoting the interior ministry.
Yehya bin Saad Al Shahrani was found guilty of shooting his mother Aisha many times with a machine gun at her home in the southern town of Khamis Mushait.
A ministry statement said the killer was executed after he confessed in court to committing the crime against his mother.
Source: Emirates 24/7, August 22, 2014

Saudi Arabia executes 19 in one half of August in 'disturbing surge of beheadings'

Saudi Arabia has beheaded at least 19 people since the beginning of August in a surge of executions, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
The deaths relate to the period from 4 to 20 August and are included in the 34 deaths ordered since the beginning of January.
According to HRW, international standards require that capital punishment should only be reserved for the “most serious crimes” in countries that still use it.
Of…

Two Public Hangings in Iran

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Iran Human Rights, August 21, 2014: One man was hanged in public in the city of Qazvin today. The prisoner who was identified as “A.N.” was convicted of murdering his 9 year old stepchild, reported the state run Iranian news agency Mehr.
Another prisoner was hanged in the Motaheri Square of Khoi (Northwestern Iran) reported the news website Uromnews. The prisoner who was identified by name what charged with rape, said the report. The execution was carried out on Tuesday August 19.
57 prisoners have been executed since August 3 (in less than 3 weeks) in Iran. 13 of the executions have been carried out in public.
Source: Iran Human Rights, August 21, 2014

Chinese Death Row Inmate Acquitted After 8-Year Ordeal

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Nian Bin was sentenced to death four times, convicted of fatally poisoning two children in eastern China. Each time, he appealed and a higher court ordered another hearing. Then on Friday, judges declared Mr. Nian not guilty and freed him from death row, abruptly ending an eight-year ordeal that lawyers said exemplified the Chinese judiciary’s reluctance to overturn its own gross injustices.
Mr. Nian maintained that he had confessed to the crime of “placing dangerous materials” — poisons — only under searing torture after his arrest. But it took a first trial, three appeals, three retrials and a review by China’s highest court before judges in Fujian Province acquitted him after concluding that the evidence marshaled by prosecutors was fatally marred by flaws and inconsistencies.
Mr. Nian, who is about 38, spent more than six of his eight years in custody in handcuffs and shackles, he wrote in a letter to his father released to Chinese news media after he was freed.
“Dad, I’ve return…

US executions face more uncertainty as expert refuses to defend drug protocols

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The decision of America’s leading expert on lethal injection drugs to stop offering court testimony has left at least one state without a single witness to defend its execution procedures from legal challenges.
The New Republic reported this week that Dr Mark Dershwitz, citing potential impacts to his profession as a board-certified anesthesiologist, would no longer act as an expert witness on behalf of lethal injection protocols. Dershwitz, also a doctor of pharmacology and professor at the University of Massachusetts medical school, has testified as an expert witness in more than 20 states and for the federal government. In June, he withdrew himself as a witness in a case challenging the execution of Montana’s two death-row inmates – convicted murderers Ronald Smith and William Jay Gollehon.
Smith, a Canadian, was sentenced to die for the 1982 murders of two men who picked him up while hitchhiking, and Gollehon for the 1992 murder of an inmate while incarcerated on two other counts…

Palestinians Suspected of Collaborating With Israel Are Executed in Gaza Strip

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GAZA CITY — As many as 18 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel were fatally shot in public on Friday, according to local news agencies and two witnesses, the largest number of such executions reported since the onset of this summer’s battle between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
The victims were not identified but were reported to have been previously arrested or convicted of collaboration, a crime punishable by death under Palestinian law. Gaza’s Interior Ministry, which handles judicial and security matters, declined to address the reported executions. But a statement signed by the so-called resistance was published on many Palestinian websites — including some affiliated with Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates Gaza — saying a “revolutionary court” had been formed “in agreement with the war’s circumstances.”
Al Majd, a website run by the Internal Security Service of the Hamas government that ran Gaza until June, quoted an unidentified official as sa…

‘Public execution’ in football stadium shows Libya’s descent into lawlessness

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A shocking video showing an execution-style killing by an armed group at a football stadium in eastern Libya highlights the authorities’ failure to prevent parts of the country from descending into violence and lawlessness, Amnesty International said today.
An amateur video published on social media sites shows the purported execution of an Egyptian man apparently organized by an armed group called the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in the eastern city of Derna.
“This unlawful killing realizes the greatest fears of ordinary Libyans, who in parts of the country find themselves caught between ruthless armed groups and a failed state,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
“Such acts can only lead to further human rights abuses in Derna, where residents have no recourse to state institutions and therefore no means to seek justice or effective protection from abuses.
“The Libyan authorities, with the support of the internation…