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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…

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia on verge of beheading protester 'tortured as a child into confessing'

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
A young protester who was reportedly forced to admit to crimes after being tortured when he was a teenager could be beheaded in the coming days.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012, along with 2 others who were also minors at the time, following anti-government protests in 2011.

In 2013, aged just 17, he was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion.

He is the nephew of the outspoken Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed on 2 January without warning, along with 46 other prisoners.

His mother, Umm Bakr, told The Times she fears her son was used "as a card against his uncle", and says after he was arrested he was tortured into signing confessions for a number of false charges including carrying a weapon.

Mohammed al-Nimr, his father and the brother of Sheikh Nimr, believes his son was "just like any other youth," he said: "When the movement started, he joined, believing he would take on the burden for the people."

However, he claims police knocked Mr al-Nimr off his motorcycle and arrested him, informing his family he would only be released if "his uncle stops talking".

The mass execution sparked widespread protests around the world and lead to a sharp decline in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Following the mass killing of 46 prisoners earlier this year, the largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia since 1980, the British government maintains it doesn't expect the Mr al-Nimr's sentence to go ahead.

But his father doubts he will be released: "Perhaps before 2 January, I might have believed that. Now unless I see him back home again, none of these assurances can give me any comfort."

Source: The Independent, Feb. 9, 2016

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