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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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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…

Two face politically-motivated execution in Bahrain based on torture ‘confessions’

Two Bahrainis who were tortured into ‘confessing’ to an attack on police officers in the wake of anti-Government protests last year could be executed at any moment, unless the country’s King pardons them.

Husain Moosa and Mohammed Ramadan were arrested in February and March 2014 respectively, shortly after demonstrations took place in Bahrain to mark the third anniversary of the ‘Arab Spring’ protests in the country.

February also saw a bomb attack in the village of al Dair, which injured two police officers, one of whom subsequently died. Mr Moosa and Mr Ramadan were arrested one week and one month after the event, respectively, and say they were subjected to extensive torture until they produced ‘confessions’ to being involved in the attack.

No evidence aside from these forced confessions and the testimony of police officers was produced in court to link either man to the attack. But despite this they were both convicted and sentenced to death in December 2014. Last month, Bahrain’s court of cassation rejected their final appeal, meaning they could now face execution at any moment, at the discretion of King Hamad.

Mr Ramadan has described how he was held incommunicado for four days and beaten until he produced the ‘confession’ that the authorities wanted, relating to the bombing. When he subsequently told a judge that the confession had been given under torture, he was taken to another prison and subjected to further beatings, and was forced to listen to other prisoners being tortured, for ten days.

Mr Moosa has described how he was hung from the ceiling and beaten with police batons. He says that officers threatened to fabricate charges against his relatives and rape his sisters unless he confessed. Mr Moosa subsequently recanted his confession in front of the public prosecutor, but like Mr Ramadan was then subjected to further torture as a result.

The case has been the focus of concern from both the European Parliament and UN officials. In July this year, MEPs warned that in Bahrain “…the use of the death penalty in politically motivated cases has expanded since 2011, with “at least seven individuals have been handed death sentences in political cases since 2011…four of these seven being sentenced to death in 2015 alone.”

Earlier this year, five UN human rights experts, including the Special Repporteur on Torture, raised concerns that both Mr Ramadan and Mr Moosa had confessed under duress.

International human rights charity Reprieve is calling on the King of Bahrain to commute the sentences, and on the UK to intervene given its status as a close ally of the country.

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said: “Husain and Mohammed have suffered an appalling ordeal – viciously tortured until they made a false confession, then tortured again when they tried to withdraw it. In the absence of any concrete evidence linking them to this crime, there is a real risk that two innocent men will die for what appear to be politically-motivated reasons. King Hamad must commute their sentence and ensure they receive the fair trial they deserve. Britain, as a close ally of Bahrain, must make clear that this terrible injustice is entirely unacceptable.”

Source: Reprieve, December 21, 2015 

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