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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…

Gaza court sentences 4 to death for 'spying for Israel'

Execution of Hani Abu Aliyan in Gaza on October 2, 2013
Execution of Hani Abu Aliyan in Gaza on October 2, 2013
A military court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced 4 Palestinians to death on charges of spying for Israel, a statement and court sources said.

The court said in a brief statement that a 23-year-old man from the Zeitoun area south of Gaza City had been sentenced to death on espionage charges. It did not provide his name.

3 other men who "fled from justice" were also found guilty in absentia, it said.

A court source told AFP the 4 were convicted on "charges of spying for the occupation", including "surveillance" and providing information about cars and homes to help Israel plan alleged assassinations.

Before these sentences, 167 people had been sentenced to death by courts in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a battle with Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority. 80 of the death sentences have been given in Gaza since that date.

Islamists Hamas have previously carried out executions against those accused of dealing with Israelis, with the killings sometimes taking place in public squares.

Under Palestinian law, collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers can face the death penalty.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 13, 2016

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