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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Tunisians handed death penalty for murdering policeman

Tunis (AFP) - Three Tunisians have been sentenced to death for murdering an unarmed young policeman as he returned home after his shift, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

A fourth man, who is on the run, was sentenced to 22 years in jail for "inciting and helping to commit terrorist crimes", in reference to the January murder.

The four were convicted Tuesday of cutting the throat of the 23-year-old policeman in El Fahs about 60 kilometres (37 miles) southwest of Tunis.

Following the murder, the interior ministry issued a directive allowing police officers to keep their weapons after their work day ended.

Aged 21 to 26, the three condemned to death were also given prison sentences of between 10 and 22 years for belonging to a terrorist group and incitement to commit terrorist crimes.

No further details were given on the circumstances of the murder, and it was not clear whether those convicted had been charged with belonging to any specific group.

Tunisia has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1991, and it was unclear how many years the convicts would serve.

The three were also ordered to pay 20,000 dinars (around 9,000 euros/$9,800) to their victim's parents and a total of 25,000 dinars to his five siblings.

Islamist militants have killed dozens of police and soldiers since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

This year alone, the Islamic State group claimed attacks on the national museum in Tunis and a popular resort hotel, killing a total of 59 tourists, and the suicide bombing of a bus carrying presidential guards, in which 12 of them died.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 31, 2015

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