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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 urged to commute death sentences in spying case

Triple execution in Kuwait on April 1, 2013
Triple execution in Kuwait on April 1, 2013
Kuwait has been urged to drop plans to execute 2 men convicted of spying for Iran and Hezbollah, with an international rights group claiming their trial was "flawed".

Kuwait's first instance criminal court sentenced Hassan Hajiya, a Kuwaiti national, and Abdulreda Dhaqany, an Iranian national, to death on January 12.

In both cases, Human Rights Watch said they were convicted "without adequate legal representation".

"Issuing a death penalty sentence, especially after flawed proceedings, is a terrible way for the Kuwaiti authorities to begin 2016," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director.

"The authorities should commute the executions immediately and reinstate the moratorium that had been in place from 2007 to 2013."

Hajiya's lawyer, Khaled al-Shatti, said that his client was held and interrogated on an almost daily basis from August 13 to September 1, 2015, by Homeland Security without any access to legal representation, the rights group said in a statement.

It added that his lawyer sought access to the interrogations but the attorney general denied him and all of the other lawyers of the 24 other defendants who faced similar charges access to their clients.

Al-Shatti hopes to appeal Hajiya's death sentence within the next 3 weeks.

Human Rights Watch also said Dhaqany was not arrested, nor was he represented by a lawyer before 3 judges in Kuwait's first instance criminal court sentenced him to death in absentia. He is currently outside the country.

State prosecutors brought charges of espionage and possession of arms without a licence against 26 people in all. Judges found 24 people guilty of possessing arms without a licence and 18 among them for spying.

After a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2007, Kuwaiti authorities executed 5 people in 2013. In September 2015, a court sentenced seven people to death in relation to the Shia Imam Sadiq Mosque bombing in June. On December 13, the appeals court upheld the death penalty for one of them and commuted the other sentences.

Source: arabianbusiness.com, January 23, 2016

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