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Texas: Rodney Reed granted indefinite stay of execution

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Stay of execution came just hours after parole board unanimously recommended 120-day reprieve
The Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was granted a stay of execution on Friday, 5 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites two years earlier.
The court had previously rejected multiple appeals, but Reed’s lawyers argued that fresh evidence bolstered his claim of innocence. 
They said in a statement that they “are extremely relieved and thankful … this opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr Reed’s innocence”.
Millions of people, including a clutch of celebrities, have rallied behind Reed’s cause, helping to generate momentum and public attention as the execution date of 20 November loomed an…

Taliban hangs five in Afghanistan

(Reuters) - The Taliban executed five people in a busy opium market in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province and left their bodies hanging overnight after accusing them of kidnapping a businessman, officials told Reuters.

The militant group has stepped up its fight for control of the southern region since June, launching a string of attacks on government buildings, seizing territory and imposing its brand of Islamic justice.

Thursday's public hanging, in the largely Taliban-controlled Kajaki district, was the second group execution reported in Helmand since the offensive began.

"Five kidnappers ... were hanged to death by an order from the Islamic Emirate's prosecution authorities," a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said in a text message.

"We hanged them in order to teach others a lesson."

Mass public executions, common when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996, ceased after the movement was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

But the Taliban's reach in strategic provinces like Helmand has grown since U.S. and allied troops stepped up the pace of their withdrawal, under plans to hand over security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Source: Reuters, August 16, 2014

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