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Texas: Rodney Reed granted indefinite stay of execution

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Stay of execution came just hours after parole board unanimously recommended 120-day reprieve
The Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was granted a stay of execution on Friday, 5 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites two years earlier.
The court had previously rejected multiple appeals, but Reed’s lawyers argued that fresh evidence bolstered his claim of innocence. 
They said in a statement that they “are extremely relieved and thankful … this opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr Reed’s innocence”.
Millions of people, including a clutch of celebrities, have rallied behind Reed’s cause, helping to generate momentum and public attention as the execution date of 20 November loomed an…

Pakistani drug smuggler beheaded in Saudi Arabia

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday beheaded a Pakistani convicted of heroin smuggling, despite arguments by rights experts that use of the death penalty in such cases violates international law.

Nazir Ahmed Sultan Ahmed was found guilty of smuggling the drug in his intestines, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Authorities carried out the sentence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, it said.

According to AFP tallies, he is the 98th foreigner or Saudi national to be executed in the conservative Muslim kingdom this year.

The number of executions has surged compared with the 87 recorded by AFP for the whole of 2014, but still far below the record 192 which Amnesty International said were carried out in 1995.

Drug and murder convictions account for the bulk of executions in Saudi Arabia.

According to London-based Amnesty International, use of the death penalty for other than the “most serious crimes” – premeditated killings – violates international law.

Saudi court proceedings “fall far short” of global norms of fairness, according to the rights watchdog.

Under the conservative kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

The interior ministry cites deterrence as the reason for carrying out the punishment.

Source: Agence France-Presse, June 10, 2015

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