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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Saudi Arabia Beheads Syrian Drug Trafficker

A Syrian convicted of drug trafficking was beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.

Mohammed Ismail al-Jammus had been charged with smuggling a large quantity of amphetamines into the country, a ministry statement reported by state news agency SPA said.

His decapitation takes to 54 the number of people beheaded in the ultra-conservative Gulf nation so far this year, compared with 78 people in all of 2013, according to an AFP count.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, homosexuality and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Human Rights Watch expressed alarm last month at a surge in executions, which saw 19 people beheaded between August 4 and 20 alone.

HRW said 8 of those executed had been convicted of non-violent offences such as drug trafficking and "sorcery", and described the use of the death penalty in their cases as "particularly egregious."

Source: Agence France-Presse, Sept. 16, 2014

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