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…

Pakistan: No mercy for brothers accused of blasphemy

September 19, 2015: A division bench of the Lahore High Court has dismissed appeals of two brothers accused of blasphemy and has confirmed their death sentence. The convicts have been behind the bars since March 2006.

The bench, headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan, dismissed their petitions and said the court would issue a detailed judgment later.

An FIR under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code was registered against Liaquat Ali and his brother Umar Daraz on a complaint filed by Hafiz Ghulam Hussain, the administrator of Jamia Usmania Abu Bakar. Hussain had filed the complaint based on a statement by Daraz’s ex-wife. She had said that the brothers often used to blaspheme.

An additional district and sessions judge in Jhang had sentenced them to death on March 27, 2009, had fined them Rs500,000 each.

In his order, additional district and sessions judge had said that the accused did not deserve leniency. “They are not only accused under section 295-C but also have no belief in Allah Almighty or his prophet Muhammad PBUH”. He said they had tried to create unrest in the society and had injured the sentiments of Muslims. He further said: “such people are trying to establish a new faith so as to harm Islam…which is no less than an atomic bomb for Islam”.

He said it was better to nip the evil in the bud and sentenced them to death under Section 295-C of the PPC. They were also fined Rs500,000 and in case of non-payment would have to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years.

In the FIR, Hussain had said that Mulazim Hussain and Ahmed Nawaz visited him on March 17, 2006, and told him that Daraz’s ex-wife had told them that Daraz and his brothers were blasphemers. 

She had told them that Daraz had divorced her on March 13, 2006.

He had sent her dowry articles to her parents’ house in which they had found a blasphemous piece of writing by Ali.

After police submitted a chalan in court, the accused told the judge that regardless of their beliefs, they had never blasphemed against the prophet or Allah. Their counsel had said that they should not be prosecuted under Section 295-C as they had not passed derogatory remarks or disrespected the holy prophet (PBUH).

A group of lawyers had appeared against them before the court pro bono. 

Sources: The Express Tribune, September 19, 2015

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