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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…

First Saudi execution after Ramadan pause

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia carried out its first execution in five weeks on Thursday after a pause for Ramadan, beheading one of its citizens convicted of a double murder.

Sayir Al Rasheedi was found guilty of fatally shooting two Saudi brothers in a dispute, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the interior ministry.

Authorities carried out the sentence against him in the Qassim region.

SPA had reported no executions during the month of Ramadan and the Eid Al Fitr holiday which followed.

The latest beheading brings to 103 the number of executions in the kingdom so far this year, a sharp increase on the 87 recorded during the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.

This year’s figure is still below the record 192 which human rights group Amnesty International said were carried out in 1995.

Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi authorities of waging a “campaign of death” by executing more people in the first six months of this year than in all of last year.

Echoing the concerns of other activists, the New York-based group said it has documented “due process violations” in Saudi Arabia’s judiciary that make it difficult for defendants to get fair trials even in capital cases.

Under the conservative kingdom’s strict Sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

The interior ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishment.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 24, 2015

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