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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Bangladesh seizes S$8.7 million of cocaine at airport, arrests Spaniard for alleged smuggling

Dhaka airport
Dhaka airport
Bangladesh anti-drugs officers seized US$6.2 million (S$8.72 million) of cocaine at Dhaka airport and arrested a Spanish national on suspicion of smuggling, officials said on Wednesday (Dec 9), the country's second-biggest haul of the substance.

P.J. Julian, 47, was arrested at the Bangladeshi capital's airport on Tuesday evening with 3kg of cocaine hidden inside the lid of his suitcase, the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) said.

Cocaine is not a popular drug in Bangladesh, but international cartels use it as a "safe route" for smuggling it into Europe and South-east Asia, seeing the country as less likely to come under suspicion.

Julian had travelled to Dhaka from Brazil's Sao Paulo via Dubai, before being arrested by officials acting on a tip-off from the United States about a suspected trafficker.

"The drugs in the suitcase could not be traced in the scanner, but we knew the tag of the suspected luggage," DNC director Towfique Uddin told AFP.

Julian is expected to appear in court later and could face the death penalty if found guilty of drug smuggling.

"If his involvement is proved with the drug trafficking, he may get a death sentence irrespective of his nationality," Mr Nadim Miah, public prosecutor for a special drug crimes court in Dhaka, told AFP.

The prosecutor said it was the 2nd-biggest cocaine haul in the Muslim-majority nation after US$14 million of liquid cocaine was found mixed in barrels containing sunflower oil in the port city of Chittagong in June.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 9, 2015


Supreme Court commutes 'top terrorist' Joseph's death penalty to life in jail

The Supreme Court has reduced the death sentence of Tofayel Ahmed Joseph, a 'top-listed terrorist' of the 1990s, to life imprisonment.

The Appellate Division bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Wednesday gave its judgment in the case over the 1996 murder of Freedom Party leader Mustafizur Rahman of Dhaka's Mohammadpur.

It acquitted another accused in the case, 'Kabil', on hearing his appeal.

Joseph had moved the top appeals court after the 2007 verdict by the High Court.

After Wednesday's verdict, his lawyer AM Amin Uddin told bdnews24.com the verdict only commuted his death sentence to life in jail.

Source: bdnews24.com, December 9, 2015

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