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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…

Pakistan: Three executions

2 convicts were hanged at Faisalabad Central Jail and 1 was hanged at the Dera Ghazi Khan Central Jail on Wednesday. The execution of a convict scheduled to be hanged in Dera Ghazi Khan on Wednesday was put off on orders of Lahore High Court.

A Prisons Department spokesperson said Muhammad Ishaq alias Saqi, son of Asghar Ali, a resident of Mohallah Bagh Jhang, and Liaqat Hussain, son of Ashiq Hussain Ansari, a resident of Sultan Noonwali Basti in Jhang, were hanged on Wednesday at the Faisalabad Central Jail. They were accused of killing 2 rivals on June 15, 1992, to avenge an old enmity. Kotwali police had registered a case against them.

Anti-Terrorism Court Judge Shafiq Ahamd Butt had sentenced them to death on August 7, 1994. The apex courts had upheld the lower court's decision and the president had turned down their mercy petitions. The court had then issued death warrants for Ishaq and Ansari.

They were allowed to meet their families for the last time on Tuesday. Tight security arrangements were made and the relatives were requested to stay calm. The suspects asked their families to forgive them. The men were executed on Wednesday and their bodies were handed over to their families. In Dera Ghazi Khan, a man convicted of killing his wife and daughter was executed on Wednesday morning. The execution of another convict was put off till December 23 on orders of the LHC.

Jail Superintendent Sheikh Afzal Javed said Mushtaq Ahmad and Allah Ditta had been scheduled for execution on Wednesday. Allah Ditta's execution was put off.

Ahmad, son of Allah Bakhsh, a resident of Taunsa Sharif, was hanged amid tight security. He had shot at and killed his wife and daughter on October 19, 1999.

A trial court had sentenced him to death on February 25, 2002. Allah Ditta, son of Rasool Bakhsh Gurmani, a resident of Rajanpur, had shot at and killed Abdul Karim on the premises of district courts to avenge his brother Piran Ditta's murder.

A trial court had sentenced him to death on October 1, 2007. District and Sessions Judge Khalid Mahmood had issued death warrants for the execution of Mushtaq Ahmad and Special Court Judge Wajahat Hussain had issued death warrants for Allah Ditta after their appeals had been rejected by superior courts and their mercy petitions were turned down by the president.

Source: The Express Tribune, December 17, 2015

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