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

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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…

Singapore: First convicted murderer to have bid for re-sentencing rejected by Court of Appeal since new law

A 39-year-old man who has been on death row for 5 years for knifing an elderly housewife more than 110 times in 2005 was on Monday denied the chance to escape the gallows.

Muhammad Kadar is the 1st convicted murderer to have his bid for re-sentencing rejected by the Court of Appeal since laws were changed last year giving judges the discretion to impose a life sentence instead of the death penalty for certain categories of murder.

Muhammad and his older brother Ismil 1st went on trial in 2006 for murdering their neighbour, Madam Tham Weng Kuen, 69, at her Boon Lay flat while robbing her.

The long-running trial, which lasted 3 years, saw many twists and turns, including Muhammad's stunning confession in court that he was the sole assailant although he had told police earlier that Mr Ismil was the main culprit.

Both were found guilty of murder by the High Court. Their appeal against convictions ended in a dramatic twist in 2011 when Mr Ismil was freed after the Court of Appeal cleared him of murder.

Earlier this month, Muhammad applied to the High Court for his case to be sent back to the High Court for re-sentencing. His lawyer Amarick Gill argued that the case fell within the category of murder with the intention of causing injury, which would have given him a chance to be re-sentenced to a life term.

But on Monday, the Court of Appeal dismissed Muhammad's bid, ruling that his crime amounted to murder with the intention to cause death which still carries the mandatory death penalty.

Previously cases of convicted murderers who were re-sentenced to life imprisonment include that of Malaysian Fabian Adiu Edwin, who killed a security guard, Chinese national Wang Wenfeng who killed a taxi driver and Bangladeshi Kamrul Hasan Abdul Quddus who killed his girlfriend.

Source: The Straits Times, Sept. 29, 2014

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