Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

UAE: Woman executed for killing American teacher

A CCTV image released by Abu Dhabi police on December 3, 2014
A CCTV image released by Abu Dhabi police on December 3, 2014 shows a fully
veiled woman walking in a shopping mall in the Emirati capital. The woman was
a suspect in the killing of an American teacher stabbed in the Boutik Mall's toilet.
July 13, 2015: The United Arab Emirates executed by firing squad a UAE woman convicted of terrorism early today after the militant-inspired killing of an American kindergarten teacher in December 2014, the state news agency WAM reported.

Ala'a Badr Abdullah al-Hashemi, 31, was sentenced to death a year ago for stabbing Romanian-born Ibolya Ryan, a mother of 11-year-old twins, in the toilet of an Abu Dhabi shopping mall and attempting to bomb an American-Egyptian doctor. 

Hashemi was caught on CCTV cameras walking inside the mall wearing a full black burqa. Later, she was seen running to an elevator and exiting the mall. Her image in the footages earned her the nickname "Reem Ghost."

Hashemi was also convicted of setting up a social media account to spread militant ideology with the intention of undermining the government and of giving money to militant organizations for attacks, WAM reported.

She stabbed Ryan inside a mall bathroom "with an intention to kill," WAM reports.

The murder happened two months after the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi informed U.S. citizens of a circulating online message inciting attacks against American and other foreign teachers, CNN reports.

Hashemi admitted to the murder, saying she was acting out of vengeance for her husband who was taken into custody for suspected militant connections.

She also said her actions were driven by a mental illness, which made her act like she was possessed by evil spirits. However, a medical investigation on her condition revealed that she was sane, according to Reuters.

Police said last year Hashemi had become radicalized over the internet and had not been targeting an American in particular, but was looking for a foreigner to kill at random.

Sources: Reuters, Agence France-Presse, HOC, July 13, 2015

Al Reem Island killer's execution sends strong message

UAE deserves to be 'first in rule of law' in region, experts say

Legal, security and human rights experts in the capital are in unanimous agreement that the UAE's execution of convicted killer Ala'a Al Hashemi sends a strong message to terrorist organisations. 

Political analyst and former political science professor in UAE University, Dr Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, told Gulf News that capital punishment sentences are very rare in the UAE and that while most are issued, few are ever carried out. 

"The verdict was issued on June 29 and quickly performed soon after and this is evidence that the UAE is very serious in moving forward in combating terrorism with all its resources," he said. 

Dr Abdullah said that cultural norms have often prevented women from getting the death penalty in the past - but that this case is different. 

"Our culture has an unwritten rule that women do not get executed for the sake of tradition but this incident is completely different from all others and, therefore, norms and cultural influences had no role to play in the outcome of the sentence," he added. 

The head of the Emirates Human Rights Association, Mohammad Salem Al Kaabi, said that the swift execution of justice displays the UAE's firm and unwavering reaction to crimes that undermine its social peace. 

"The fact that the execution was also carried out against one of the UAE's own citizens also reveals that the UAE is a country of law and that it really is the 'First in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index in the Mena Region' as it was dubbed just yesterday," he said. 

"This act of justice also tells the world that terrorism has no place in the UAE, and that this country will deal with any individual who dares to intervene in public safety with an iron fist. The procedures taken during Ala'a's trial were fair, clear and in accordance with the law," he added. 

The human rights experts also confirmed that Ala'a was given her civil rights in defending herself and that all evidence was presented without tampering. 

"The trial itself, which lasted for months on end, is another indicator of the UAE's fairness for all defendants," he added. 

Echoing Al Kaabi's response, Abu Dhabi-based lawyer Ali Al Abbadi reiterated the UAE's readiness to combat terrorist acts and said that a prominent attorney was appointed to defend Ala'a. 

"The execution is evidence that the UAE is a country of law and that it does not falter in carrying out verdicts against criminals as well as providing them with an opportunity to defend themselves as was done for Ala'a Al Hashemi. Her case was also given to one of the most renowned lawyers to defend her and all procedures were followed. Additionally, these crimes capitalise on planting fear in people's hearts and they deserve equally grave punishments," he said. 

He also highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court verdict cannot be appealed which further proves the UAE's firmness in carrying out the law. 

"The verdict issued by the Federal Supreme Court cannot be appealed and Ala'a was prosecuted under Federal Law number 7 of 2014 pertaining to combating terrorism. This is a clear message to all terrorist organisations that the UAE shows no leniency when it comes to these matters. It is also an even clearer message that we will not rest from the dark forces of terrorism without the use of strictness and firmness. This is because terrorism is an ugly deed that does not differentiate between citizens and residents." 

Source: Gulf News, July 14, 2015

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