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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…

BNN Busts Drug Couriers Carrying 25 Kilos of Meth

Medan. The National Narcotics Agency, or BNN, seized 25 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and arrested four men in the year's biggest drug bust in Medan, North Sumatra on Monday (22/02).

Brig. Gen. Arman Depari, BNN deputy head for narcotics eradication, said the four suspects were captured at a bus terminal on Jalan Sisimangaraja, adding that one of them was injured after being shot by anti-narcotic officers.

“The arrested suspects are being questioned,” Arman told reporters without revealing their identities.

The suspects allegedly have ties to an international narcotics syndicate in Malaysia and other countries, Arman said, adding that Aceh and Riau are believed to be the base of this syndicate.

The bust marks this year's first large raid after the BNN seized 161 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in Karawang, West Java, last December.

The drugs confiscated in December were found packed in boxes in the back of a truck that was transporting them from Surabaya to Jakarta.

Drug courier Tommy claimed he had received the contraband from someone in Surabaya and was meant to take them to a Chinese national identified as Chen Bin in Ancol, North Jakarta.

Source: Jakarta Globe, Feb. 22, 2016

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