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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 carries out 10th beheading of 2015

Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens Friday for shooting dead a compatriot with a machine gun, officials said, bringing to 10 the number of executions in just over two weeks.

Murdi al-Shakra had been tried and sentenced to death for murdering fellow tribesman Faraj al-Shakra, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

The beheading brings to 10 the number of executions since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally.

It comes as Saudi Arabia postponed until next week Friday's flogging of blogger Raef Badawi jailed for insulting Islam, citing medical reasons, a week after he received the first 50 of a 1,000-lash sentence.

Badawi's case has sparked an international outcry put the spotlight on the ultra-conservative kingdom's rigid implementation of a strict version of Islamic Sharia law.

Saudi Arabia carried out the death penalty against 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013, according to an AFP tally.

The kingdom had the third-highest number of recorded executions in 2013, behind Iran and Iraq, Amnesty International said in a report.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, homosexuality and drug trafficking are punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's law.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 16, 2015

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