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Showing posts from January, 2015

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Bali Nine pair lodge handwritten appeals

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Bali: Australian drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have lodged handwritten letters to Indonesia's president appealing for mercy as part of an application to have their death sentences reviewed.
In their letters written in Indonesian, Chan admits he deserves to be in jail but says he can be rehabilitated, while Sukumaran insists prison has changed him into an extraordinary and good man.
In his statement to President Joko Widodo and the Supreme Court chairman, Chan writes that life in prison is tough but he is not complaining, "because I know I deserved to be jailed for quite a long time".
He begs for the president and court to note his rehabilitation during his decade on death row.
"I'm like a broken cup, but that doesn't mean I can't be repaired," he writes.
Sukumaran's letter begins by apologising for a crime committed when he was "very young and foolish and uneducated".
He writes about the computer and art classes in K…

A dozen more Australians face death penalty abroad

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Twelve Australians – including two grandmothers – are facing possible execution overseas, far more than previously known.
The imperiled dozen are in addition to three Australians already sentenced to death – Pham Trung Dung in Vietnam, and Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan in Bali.
Sukumaran and Chan could be killed by an Indonesian firing squad within weeks, with a spokesman for Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo saying a freshly-lodged judicial review will not stop their executions.
However, Fairfax has learned that 12 other Australians have also been detained for serious offences or charged with crimes that carry the death penalty and could soon join the grim wait for the executioner.
Until now, only two cases of Australians in the predicament were known.
They were Peter Gardiner, the dual Australia-New Zealand man caught with 30 kilograms of methamphetamine in China and Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, a 51-year-old grandmother, caught with 1.5 kg of the drug in Malaysia.
Fairfax understa…

Saudi Arabia postpones blogger flogging for third week

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Dubai: Saudi Arabia postponed Friday for a third week in a row the flogging of a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, his wife said.
Raef Badawi “was not flogged” on Friday, his wife Ensaf Haidar said, adding that the reason was unclear.
The 30-year-old received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9.
The next round of the punishment was postponed for the following two weeks on medical grounds.
Badawi’s case has already prompted worldwide outrage and criticism from the UN, US, the EU and others.
On Thursday, Ensaf, who has sought asylum with their three children in Canada, voiced concerns about the health of her husband, who has been suffering from hypertension since his arrest in June 2012.
“Raef’s health condition is bad and it’s getting worse. I am very concerned about him,” Ensaf told reporters and lawmakers in Canada.
“It is impossible for a human being to withstand 50 lashes every week,” she said.
Badawi…

URGENT ACTION - Indonesia: 6 executed, 9 more at risk

The Indonesian authorities executed six people by firing squad on 18 January. Nine more people are at risk of execution. 
Rani Andriani alias Melisa Aprilia (Indonesian), Daniel Enemuo (Nigerian), Ang Kiem Soei (Dutch), Tran Thi Bich Hanh (Vietnamese), Namaona Denis (Nigerian) and Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira (Brazilian) were executed by firing squad just after midnight on 18 January. All were convicted of and sentenced to death for drug-related offenses. Five of them were executed on Nusakambangan Island while Tran Thi Bich Hanh was executed in Boyolali district, both in Central Java. 
Amnesty International is concerned that more executions will follow. The Indonesian government announced in December 2014 that 20 people are scheduled to be executed in 2015. Nine men are at imminent risk of execution after their clemency applications were rejected by President Joko Widodo in December 2014 and January 2015. They are Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar (Indonesian), Harun bin Ajis (Indonesian…

Family of Pakistani death row prisoner told to “bring a shroud” to his hanging

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The relatives of a man set to be wrongfully executed in Pakistan have been given an official notice of his hanging next week – and told to bring a shroud and a gurney to dispose of his body.
Shoaib Sarwar was convicted of murder in Pakistan 17 years ago, following a trial process which saw a number of irregularities. His hanging, scheduled for Tuesday, 3rd February, will mark the first execution in Pakistan of someone who not only was convicted of non-terrorist offences, but was not even convicted in a terrorism court. There are concerns that his hanging could lead to plans to execute more than 8,000 other prisoners convicted of non-terrorist offences on Pakistan’s death row, which is the largest in the world.
Resuming executions in late 2014 after a longstanding moratorium on the death penalty, the Pakistani government announced it would hand death warrants only to those convicted as terrorists under the country’s flawed anti-terror legislation. Mr Sarwar’s situation is unique, how…

New Zealand's Antony de Malmanche to face death penalty

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Indonesian prosecutors have confirmed they will press charges carrying the death penalty against a New Zealand man caught with crystal meth at Bali's airport.
Antony de Malmanche, 52, says he thought he was going on his 1st overseas trip to meet a woman he met online.
Instead he says he found himself diverted to China at the direction of a man claiming to be the woman's personal assistant.
The man gave him a bag and instructions to fly to Bali, where he would finally meet "Jessie".
Lawyers for de Malmanche say he didn't know there was 1.7kg of the drug known as ice inside the backpack when he was intercepted by customs in Bali.
On Thursday (local time), the invalid pensioner tripped and fell as he was taken to the prosecutor's office and needed medical attention.
Asked what he expected to happen at trial he said: "To be found not guilty."
Prosecutor Siti Sawiyah says she has received the police brief of evidence including a green backpack and 1709 …

Indonesia: Police "ready for executions"

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The police are making assurances that the prison island of Nusakambangan in Cilacap, Central Java, is ready for the executions of death row convicts, including the Bali 9 duo.
Cilacap Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ulung Sampurna Jaya said that they were only waiting for the order to commence the executions.
"We are very ready. It's now just a matter of pressing the button," Ulung said as an analogy during an interview with The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
According to him, additional special personnel had been assigned to the areas around the Wijaya Pura Pier, the official entrance gate to the prison island, since all officials and visitors to the prisons land on the island after a 7-minute ride from Cilacap on the mainland on board a ship provided by the Nusakambangan correctional facility office.
Ulung said that he had received messages indicating that the executions of 2 members of the Bali 9 would be conducted in February, but the exact date had yet to be revealed.
"…

Judicial review into Bali Nine pair 'would not stop executions': Attorney-General

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A judicial review into the condemned Bali Nine members filed on Friday would not stop executions proceeding, according to a spokesman for Indonesian Attorney-General H.M Prasetyo.
Tony Spontana accused lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of trying to delay the executions by filing out an application for a case review, known as a PK.
"Since the norm is that the PK will not stop the execution we hope that the judges in the Denpasar District Court will reject it," he told a press conference.
Mr Spontana said a meeting on January 9 attended by representatives from the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and other agencies had agreed that there could only be one judicial review of a case.
No decision had been made on who would be included in the second round of executions of felons in Indonesia this year.
It had also not been finalised where or when they would be held.
However Mr Spontana said two Australians were among 11 convicts who had lost their clemency pleas…

Syria 'adultress' survives jihadist stoning: Monitor

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A Syrian woman stoned by the jihadist Islamic State group for alledged adultery and left for dead has miraculously walked away from the brutal punishment, a monitor said Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadist group sentenced the woman to be "stoned for adultery" in the town of Raqa, the IS stronghold in northern Syria.
Militants carried out the punishment and "stoned her until they thought she had died," said the Britain-based monitor.
But just as they had stopped pelting her with stones, the woman stood up and tried to flee.
"An IS militant was about to open fire at her when an Islamist jurist intervened and stopped him saying it was God's will that she did not die," said the Observatory, without specifying when it happened.
The IS jurist told the woman she can walk free but that she must "repent".
According to the Observatory, at least 15 people, nine of them women, have been executed by jihadists in Syria, incl…

Indonesia: Execution looming for French national Serge Atlaoui

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President Joko Widodo of Indonesia rejected the clemency appeals of several foreigners sentenced to death for drug trafficking, including the appeal of French national Serge Atlaoui, who could be executed soon, the Jakarta Attorney-General's office aid.
The Attorney-General's office has received "official copies of the presidential decree dismissing the clemency appeals from eleven death row inmates," a spokesman for the attorney general said.
Among the eleven men and women in line for execution by firing squad are seven foreigners sentenced to death for drug trafficking, including French citizen Serge Atlaoui, he added.
The other foreigners come from countries including Australia, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines.
Death penalty for drug traffickers
The Frenchman Atlaoui was arrested in 2005 in a secret laboratory producing ecstasy close to Jakarta and sentenced to death for drug trafficking.
Spokesman Tony Spontana stressed that the Attorney-General had al…

Bali Nine: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran lodge fresh appeal

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Lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Bali Nine members on death row in Kerobokan prison, successfully lodged an application for a second review of their cases on Friday, in a final bid to save the pair from the firing squad.
Members of Chan and Sukumaran’s legal team arrived at the prison shortly before 8.30am, followed by a Denpasar court clerk who came out showing media the signed applications for a judicial review (PK).
Indonesian lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis later said an application for a judicial review of the case had been accepted.
“It has been accepted, it will go to the courts, then it depends on the district court heads,” he told media. “There should not be an execution because the legal process should be respected as well.”
Chan and Sukumaran’s lawyers are at this stage asking for the death sentences to be commuted to life, not an acquittal, Mulya stressed. “Those two men, the petitioners, have changed a great deal. They have become good men.”
The appeal has…

Texas executes Robert Ladd

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas man convicted of killing a 38-year-old woman nearly two decades ago while he was on parole for a triple slaying years earlier was executed Thursday evening. He was pronounced dead at 7:02 p.m.
Robert Ladd, 57, received lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments he was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. The court also rejected an appeal in which Ladd’s attorney challenged whether the pentobarbital Texas uses in executions is potent enough to not cause unconstitutional pain and suffering.
Ladd was executed for the 1996 slaying of 38-year-old Vicki Ann Garner, of Tyler, who was strangled and beaten with a hammer. Her arms and legs were bound, bedding was placed between her legs, and she was set on fire in her apartment.
Ladd came within hours of lethal injection in 2003 before a federal court agreed to hear evidence about juvenile records that suggested he was mentally impaired. That appeal was denied and the Supreme…

Texas poised to execute intellectually disabled inmate

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Robert Ladd's lethal injection to come days after Georgia's execution of another intellectually disabled man; lawyer condemns policy based on fiction
Texas is hours away from executing the second intellectually disabled prisoner in the US this week, in what lawyers say is a clear violation of the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
The convicted murderer Robert Ladd, 57, will be killed with a lethal injection at 6pm Central Time on Thursday barring last-minute action by the US supreme court, where the case now resides. He was first found to have what was then called "mental retardation" when he was 13, and has repeatedly been diagnosed with the condition throughout his life.
In 2002, the supreme court banned executions for mentally impaired prisoners under the 8th amendment of the constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. But Texas says it is not bound by this ruling because it claims Ladd does not conform to the state…

Philippine woman faces death in Indonesia for drugs

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The Philippines is trying to prevent the execution of a female citizen, who faces death by firing squad in Indonesia for drug smuggling, the foreign ministry said Thursday.
Manila's revelation that a Filipina is on death row, comes after recently-elected Indonesian leader Joko Widodo's government executed 6 convicted drug smugglers and prepares to execute 11 more.
"The Philippine government is making all the appropriate representations with the Indonesian government at all levels on our ... request for judicial review," foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said.
He said an application to review the woman's death sentence was filed at a district court near Yogyakarta last week.
Foreign ministry officials said the woman -- whose name was not disclosed -- was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in April 2010 carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia.
After putting 5 foreigners and an Indonesian to death by firing squad earlier this month, Indonesia a…

Nepal government unaware of national's fate in Indonesia or of Nepalis jailed in other countries

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Indonesia, a country of 250 million, is notorious for its severe drug policy. Most often drug traffickers are executed or imprisoned for life.
On January 18, Indonesia executed 5 people convicted on drug trafficking charges; 4 of them were foreign nationals from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria, and the Netherlands.
More than 138 people await execution on death row, 1/3 of them foreigners, reports the Guardian newspaper.
Among them is a Nepali man, Indra Bahadur Tamang, arrested in 2001 with 900 grams of heroin. Nearly 14 years later, it is still uncertain when Indra Bahadur will face execution.
Nepal's protracted transition has no doubt taken a toll on all facets of governance. And this cost has been especially telling in Nepal's diplomacy.
So it comes as no surprise that the government remains unaware of Indra Bahadur's fate in Indonesia or of Nepalis jailed in other countries.
It is estimated that more than a dozen Nepalis await execution in the Middle East and Malaysia. Last A…

Another Nigerian to be executed in Indonesia for drugs

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Indonesia is ready to execute a Nigerian and 6 other foreign drug convicts on death row after their appeals for presidential clemency were rejected, an official said, in a move certain to set Jakarta on a collision course with international allies.
They include 2 Australian leaders of the "Bali 9" drug-smuggling gang, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan who have been on death row for almost a decade. The pair lost their appeals in December and earlier this month.
A spokesman for the attorney-general's office revealed late Wednesday that a further 4 foreigners, from countries including France, Brazil, and Ghana, have also lost their appeals. The Attorney general did not reveal the names of the other foreigners scheduled to face the firing squad.
4 Indonesians - only 1 of them convicted of drugs offences - had also lost their bid for clemency.
"The attorney general's office now has 11 convicts on death row ready to be executed," spokesman Tony Spontana said lat…