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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…

China sentences two men to death for murder of British monk

Kagyu Samye Ling monastery in Scotland
Kagyu Samye Ling monastery in Scotland
China has sentenced two men to death for killing a British monk who founded Europe’s first Tibetan monastery, state media said.

Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, co-founder of Scotland’s Kagyu Samye Ling monastery near Langholm, in Dumfries and Galloway, was found dead with multiple stab wounds at his home in the south-western city of Chengdu in 2013.

A court in the city sentenced two men, named in Chinese as Tudeng Gusang and Tsering Banjue, to death for the murders of Akong Rinpoche and two other men, while an accomplice was sentenced to three years in jail, the state-run China News Service reported late on Sunday.

It cited authorities as saying that Gusang, who had worked at the Scottish monastery, and Banjue had stabbed Akong Rinpoche, his nephew and a driver to death in a dispute over a 2.7m yuan (£286,000) payment.

The verdict, posted by the court on social media, said the murders were “brutal” and that the suspects would be “treated severely in accordance with the law”.

Britain said in a statement that it communicated its opposition to the death penalty to Beijing.

Akong Rinpoche, who was in his early 70s, took British citizenship after fleeing Tibet in 1959, and founded the monastery in 1967. He had the title of Rinpoche, an honorific given to the most respected teachers in Tibetan Buddhism, and his community said at the time of his killing that he had been “assassinated”.


Source: The Guardian, Agence France-Presse, Feb 1, 2016

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