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Showing posts from November, 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…

The view from the US county where death penalty invoked the most, per capita

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More than 1/2 of US death sentences come from 2 % of counties. Duval County in Florida tops the list. By and large, residents there are death penalty supporters.
Jacksonville, the site of early European settlements on the northeast Florida coast, is a fine enough place - excellent sun, great crab shacks, sand dollar-strewn beaches, and the classic Floridian melting pot of cultures and accents.
But for those who do something really bad here in Duval County, this otherwise hospitable place is likely to turn on them, quickly and efficiently.
Per capita, the people of Duval sentence more of their neighbors to death than any other place in America. The equivalent of 1 out of approximately every 14,000 people who live in this urban county of 850,000 people has been condemned to die by lethal injection.
While much of the United States has gradually backed off the ultimate sanction, Duval County jurors have sentenced 14 people to death in the past 5 years for a litany of crimes, and 60 since…

Saudi Arabia imposes death sentence for Bible smuggling

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November 28, 2014: In a recent official statement from the Saudi Arabian government, the death sentence will now be imposed on anyone who attempts to smuggle Bibles into the country.
In actuality, the new law extends to the importing of all illegal drugs and "all publications that have a prejudice to any other religious beliefs other than Islam." 
In other words, anyone who attempts to bring Bibles or Gospel literature into the country will have all materials confiscated and be imprisoned and sentenced to death. 
Source: heartcrymissionary.com, November 28, 2014

Qatar: US couple absolved of child’s death

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Doha: A Qatari appeals court on Sunday overturned a ruling against an American couple over the death of their adopted daughter and said they are free to leave, ending a closely watched legal saga.
Los Angeles couple Matthew and Grace Huang, who were originally jailed on murder charges following the January 2013 death of their adopted daughter Gloria, headed to the airport soon after the ruling to try to leave Qatar, said Eric Volz, who is coordinating legal and publicity efforts for the family.
The couple was convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to three years in prison in March. They were allowed to remain free pending their appeal but could not leave the country.
The Huangs say eight-year-old Gloria died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits that included periods of binging and self-starvation. Prosecutors alleged she died after being denied food and locked in her room.
The Huangs have two other African-born adopted children and have been pressing Qatari…

Indonesia: Five Death-Row Inmates Exhaust Appeals, To Be Executed by End of Year

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Jakarta. The Attorney General’s Office said five inmates who are currently on death row will be executed by the end of the year.
Basuni Masyarif, deputy attorney general for general crimes, said the five condemned prisoners have all exhausted their chances for appeal as well as failing to secure a pardon from President Joko Widodo.
“Their rights have all been exhausted. So it now comes to the technical aspect [of when and where],” he said.
Basuni declined to provide any further details about the inmates’ identities, saying only that two of the prisoners scheduled for execution this year are Nigerians. The five inmates are imprisoned in Banten, Riau and Jakarta.
Indonesia resumed the execution of death-row inmates in 2013 after a four-year moratorium, killing five people by firing squad. Basuni said the five were supposed to be executed last year.
Capital punishment is an option for Indonesian judges as a sentencing option for several convictions, including drug trafficking, murder, s…

Iran: Prisoners hanged in Kashan and Qum

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NCRI - On Saturday morning a prisoner was hanged in the main prison in the Iranian city of Qum. Another prisoner was hanged in the main prison in the city of Kashan.
The inmate hanged in Kashan was identified as Reza Karim Dadeh Zehi, 38, who had been arrested for drug-related charges.
Meanwhile, a court in Iran upheld the earlier sentence for a prisoner to have his right eye gouged out and his left ear chopped off.
During the past week at least 20 prisoners have been hanged in Iran including a 20-year-old man in public for an ‘immoral act’ even though he had obtained clemency from the family of the murdered victim.
A group of ten prisoners were hanged in Ghezelhesar prison in the city of Karaj on Tuesday, according to information obtained from inside Iran.
On Wednesday, two men named only as Ali M and Ali Q were hanged in public for 'mischief' in the north-eastern city of Mashhad.
A group of five inmates were hanged in Gohardasht prison in the city of Karaj. They were part o…

British grandmother on death row in Bali faces execution as new president pledges 'no mercy' for drug traffickers

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Lindsay Sandiford is on death row for smuggling 1.6million pounds worth of cocaine into Bali and all appeals have been denied; Received grim news that Indonesia's new President will show no mercy
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, lingering on death row in a Bali jail, has received the grim news that Indonesia's new President will show no mercy and grant no pardons to drug traffickers.
The 57-year-old former legal secretary from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was sentenced to death in January last year for trafficking cocaine worth 1.6 million pounds into Bali and all her appeals have been denied.
Her final hopes of avoiding death by firing squad rest with the Indonesian President - but the newly-elected leader of the world's largest Muslim nation, Joko Widodo, has made it clear he will be taking a tough stance against drug smugglers.
A spokesman for the Attorney General's Department told the Jakarta Globe that Mr Joko was not planning abolish capital punishment any…

Egyptian Court Dismisses All Charges Against Mubarak

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An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed all remaining criminal charges against former President Hosni Mubarak, raising the possibility that Mr. Mubarak could go free for the first time since he was removed from office in the 2011 uprising that defined the Arab Spring.
During earlier hearings in the various proceedings against Mr. Mubarak human rights lawyers demanded harsh punishment for his three decades of brutal autocracy, but Saturday’s court session was packed with Mubarak supporters who erupted in cheers at the verdict.
The 86-year-old former leader, who has been held at a military hospital and appeared in court on a stretcher, remained stone-faced as the chief judge, Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi, read the verdict. Only then did he allow himself a smile, and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, hugged and kissed him in celebration. Both were acquitted of corruption charges along with their father.
Click here to read the full article
Source: The New York Times, November 29, 2014

The dark side of justice: When defendants 'lose on technicalities'

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In 1992, Kenneth Rouse, an African-American man with an IQ between 70 and 80 - "borderline intellectual functioning," in the clinical parlance - prepared to stand trial in North Carolina on charges that he had robbed, murdered and attempted to rape a white, 63-year-old store clerk.
Rouse's lawyers questioned the prospective jurors to try to expose any racial or other bias. But several years after the all-white jury convicted Rouse and recommended a death sentence, his defense team made a stunning discovery.
1 of the jurors, Joseph Baynard, who used a racial slur when referring to African-Americans, admitted that his mother had been robbed, murdered and possibly raped years before. Baynard had not disclosed this history, he said, so that he could sit in judgment of Rouse, whom he called "1 step above a moron."
As claims of juror bias go, the evidence could hardly have been stronger. But Rouse's final appeal was never heard. Under the Antiterrorism and Effec…

Nigerian child bride, 14, accused of killing her husband and three others with rat poison

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A 14-year-old Nigerian child bride is accused of murdering 4 people, including her 35-year-old husband, by lacing food she had prepared for a post-marriage celebration with rat poison.
The case had outraged human rights activists, who said a girl married to a man more than twice her age should be treated as a victim, not a criminal.
Wasila Tasi'u, from a poor, rural family in the mainly Muslim north, could face the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutor Lamido Abba Soron-Dinki's first witness was a seven-year-old girl identified as Hamziyya, who was living in the same house as Tasi'u and her husband Umar Sani, when the child bride allegedly laced his food with rat poison.
Hamziyya was identified as the sister of Mr Sani's "co-wife", referring to a woman the deceased farmer had married previously, in a region where polygamy is widespread.
The 7-year-old testified that Tasi'u had given her money to buy rat poison from a local shop on April 5, the day Mr Sa…

Iraq: ISIS executes 2 female parliamentary candidates following Sharia death sentence

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November 26, 2014: “ISIS gunmen executed two former female candidates in Mosul after the Sharia Court issued death sentence on them,” Saad Mamuzin, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, told Rudaw.
The women, who ran in Iraq's parliamentary elections race last April, were identified as Ibtisam Ali Jarjis and Miran Ghazi.
Rudaw notes that "according to the KDP official, the two candidates had repented in one of the [Islamic State] mosques in Mosul to spare their lives three months ago, but the Islamic judge overruled their repentance and the two women were arrested about three weeks ago."
In September, the jihadist group executed three women in Mosul, including two doctors and another parliamentary candidate.
Large swaths of Syria and Iraq have fallen into the hands of Islamic State (IS, ISIS, or ISIL) militants.
ISIS jihadists solidified their control of Mosul after they stormed the city in June. The jihadist gro…

Iran: 20-year-old boy hanged in public for "immoral acts"

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Three prisoners were hanged in public two different cities of Khorasan-Razavi Province today. One of the prisoners was hanged charged with the vague charges of “immoral acts”. Iran Human Rights calls for international condemnation of the recent wave of public executions in Iran.
Iran Human Rights, November 27, 2014: Three prisoners were hanged publicly in the cities of Mashhad and Joghatai today, reported the Iranian state media.
According to the state run Iranian news agency Fars the prisoner who was hanged in Joghatai (a twon near Mashhad) was identified as “M. Gh.” (20 year old), originally sentenced to death for murder (Qesas- retribution) and for immoral acts. The prisoner was later pardoned by the family of the murder victim, but he was executed for “immoral acts”. The report added that “M. Gh”. has sent request of pardon for immoral acts but his request was not granted by the Province Commission. There are no further specifications of what “immoral acts” the prisoner was se…

Saudi Arabia: Beheading postponed to allow inmate's relatives to pay "blood money"

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A Saudi prisoner who was to be beheaded on Thursday was given a chance to live when the court decided to postpone the execution for a few months to allow his relatives to pay diya (blood money) to the victim’s family.
Maeesh bin Habib Al Gahdali was to be executed in the Red Sea port of Jeddah on Thursday after he was sentenced to death by a criminal court for murder.
“The execution was postponed for a period of between six months and one year to allow his relatives to pay SR10 million (Dh10 million) diya to the victim’s family,” the Saudi Arabic language daily ‘Sabq’ said.
It said his relatives had managed to raise SR1 million and that they would resort to public donations to obtain the remaining sum.
“Gahdali’s relatives appealed for the public to save his life as his four sons are waiting for him to come home,” it said.
Source: Emirates 24/7, November 28, 2014

URGENT APPEAL for Iranian photographer Soheil Arabi sentenced to death in Iran for “insulting the Prophet"

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An Iranian man has been sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet of Islam”. Soheil Arabi has now had his sentence upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court. He was sentenced for posts deemed offensive to the Prophet he had made on Facebook.
Photographer Soheil Arabi, 30, was sentenced to death on 30 August 2014 for “insulting the Prophet of Islam” (Sabbo al-Nabbi) by a five-judge panel of Branch 76 of the Criminal Court of Tehran: three of the judges ruled in favor of the death penalty. The charge stems from postings Soheil Arabi made on eight Facebook accounts, which the authorities said belong to Soheil Arabi. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence on 24 November. In a separate case stemming from the same Facebook posts, Soheil Arabi was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the leader”, by a Tehran Revolutionary Court on 4 September.
Soheil Arabi was arrested in November 2013 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in …

'Floridly psychotic' Texas inmate's storied history of mental illness likely won't halt his execution

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Barring the success of last-minute appeals, Scott Panetti, 56, will be executed on 3 December despite clear evidence that he is insane and his original trial was a farce
On Tuesday, the Texas court of criminal appeals, by a 5-4 vote, denied the attorneys’ latest petition for a stay of execution. Panetti’s lawyers had argued that executing a severely mentally ill inmate would violate the eighth and fourteenth amendments and cited new research showing that death sentences are rarely imposed on the mentally-ill and that no “guilty but mentally ill” capital defendant has been sentenced to death in 20 years. As a result of this national consensus, they argued, it would be unconstitutional to impose a punishment that “offends contemporary standards of decency” and as unreasonable to execute the mentally ill as it would be to put to death the intellectually disabled.
Earlier this month, the attorneys sent a petition for clemency to Texas governor Rick Perry and the Texas board of pardons and…

Iran: Three executed for drug trafficking, murder

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Iran Human Rights, November 26, 2014: Three prisoners were hanged in two different prisons in Iran today, 26. November. 
According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Qazvin, two prisoners identified as “M” (23) charged with murder, and “M. Sh.” charged with possession and trafficking of 9300 grams of heroin were hanged in the prison of Qazvin (Western Iran). edam1
The official website of Mazandaran Judiciary reported about the execution of a man identified as “Alireza M” today. The prisoner was convicted of murder and was hanged early this morning in the prison of Sari (Northern Iran).
Tomorrow, Thursday, three prisoners are scheduled to be hanged in public in Khorasan Razavi Province.
Source: Iran HUman Rights, November 26, 2014

Death row inmate Rodney Reed loses motion for more DNA testing in case

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Death row inmate Rodney Reed’s motion for expanded DNA testing of evidence in his capital murder case was denied Tuesday by visiting Judge Doug Shaver, though the court did accept a separate motion delaying his date of execution from Jan. 15 to March 5.
Reed was convicted in the 1996 murder and rape of Stacy Stites, though defense attorneys contend Jimmy Fennell, Stites’ fiance, was likely responsible for the murder. Fennell is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a woman in his custody while employed as a Georgetown police officer.
Prosecutors this summer agreed to order additional DNA tests on swabs taken from Stites’ body, cuttings taken from her underwear and strands of hair retrieved from her left sock and her body. Test results have not yet been presented to the court, but will be available before March 5, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys said Tuesday that the testing of additional items — including several pieces of clothing found on or near S…

Saudi Arabia: Filipino worker Jonard Langamin spared from death

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An overseas Filipino worker who killed another Filipino in Saudi Arabia in 2008 was spared from the death penalty after the victim's relatives forgave him and might be reunited with his family this Christmas.
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday said he has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to expedite the release of the "blood money" so that Jonard Langamin can spend Christmas with his family.
Langamin is currently detained at the Dammam Reformatory Jail.
"This would be a great gift for our overseas workers who wish to be with their families to celebrate Christmas," Binay said.
Binay added that Langamin would have to settle the blood money demanded by his victim's heirs.
Once the needed amount has been paid to the victim's family, Judge Sheikh Ahmad Najmi Al Otaibe of the Dammam High Court will schedule a marathon hearing for the closure of the public right aspect of the case and eventually decide on Langamin's immediate deportation.
Un…

A look at the death penalty in the United States

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Here's a look at the death penalty in the United States.
Facts:
Capital punishment is legal in 32 U.S. states.
Connecticut, Maryland and New Mexico have abolished the death penalty, but it is not retroactive. Prisoners on death row in those states will still be executed.
As of October 2014 there were 3,035 inmates awaiting execution.
Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, 1,389 people have been executed. (as of October 2014)
Japan is the only industrial democracy besides the United States that has the death penalty.
Federal Government: (source: Death Penalty Information Center)
The U.S. government and U.S. military have 69 people awaiting execution. (as of October 2014)
The U.S. government has executed 3 people since 1976.
Females:
There are 57 women on death row in the United States. (as of October 2014)
15 women have been executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. (as of October 2014)
Juveniles:
22 individuals were executed …