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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…

Kuwait court upholds death sentence in mosque bombing

Execution of two convicts in Kuwait in June 2013
Execution of two convicts in Kuwait in June 2013
A total of 29 defendants, seven of them women, are on trial over the terrorist attack

Kuwait's appeals court Sunday upheld the death penalty for the main organiser of the bombing of a Shiite mosque claimed by Daesh that killed 26 people.

The court however reduced the death sentence handed out to the alleged leader of Daesh in Kuwait, Fahad Farraj Muhareb, to 15 years in prison.

A lower court in September issued the death penalty to Muhareb and Abdul Rahman Sabah Saud, who drove the suicide bomber to the mosque site on June 26.

It also handed out jail terms of between two and 15 years to 8 others, including 5 women, and acquitted 14 others.

In Sunday's ruling, the appeals court acquitted 1 of the 5 women.

There was tight security for the hearing, with armoured vehicles outside the Kuwait City court complex and helicopters patrolling overhead.

Judge Hani Al Hamdan said that the cases of 5 men sentenced to death in absentia for their role in the bombing were not reviewed because they remained at large.

Under Kuwaiti law, sentences issued in absentia are not reviewed by higher courts until convicts appear.

4 of the men at large are Saudis, including two brothers who smuggled the explosives belt used in the attack into Kuwait from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The 5th is a stateless Arab.

A total of 29 defendants, 7 of them women, had been on trial on charges of helping the Saudi suicide bomber carry out the attack on a Shiite mosque in the capital, which was the bloodiest in Kuwait's history.

During the initial trial, Saud confessed to most charges but he denied all of them in the appeals court.

Among those acquitted Sunday was Jarrah Nimer, owner of the car used to drop off the bomber.

A Daesh-affiliated group calling itself Najd Province claimed the Kuwait City bombing as well as suicide attacks at two Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia in May.

Najd is the central region of Saudi Arabia.

Kuwaiti courts have already issued several verdicts on Daesh supporters and financiers.

Source: Gulf News, December 13, 2015

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