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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…

Saudi Arabia beheads Egyptian national

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has beheaded an Egyptian national after sentencing him to death on charges related to robbery and murder.

The convicted Egyptian man, identified as Mahmud Jumaa Morsi, was beheaded in the capital Riyadh on Wednesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The man was found guilty of fatally strangling and robbing a Saudi citizen, the ministry added.

According to AFP tallies, the latest execution brings to 54 the number of locals and foreigners put to death this year.

In the most stunning case, Saudi Arabia executed on January 2 Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along 46 other people in defiance of international calls for the release of the prominent Shia cleric and other jailed political dissidents in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been under fire for having one of the world's highest execution rates.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Saudi regime to abolish its "ghastly" beheadings.

Under the Saudi law, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, homosexuality and murder carry the death penalty. Most Saudi executions are carried out by beheading with a sword.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 27, 2016

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