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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 executes Egyptian man for drug smuggling

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia executed on Monday an Egyptian man convicted of smuggling drugs, the interior ministry said, bringing to 59 the number of convicts put to death this year.

Ibrahim Mohammed Salman was caught trying to smuggle opium which was hidden in his car, the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

He was executed in the northern city of Tabuk, the ministry said.

Most executions in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia are done by beheading with a sword.

The kingdom on January 2 executed 47 people in a single day for "terrorism".

In 2015 the kingdom executed 153 people, mostly for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP tally.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.

However, the tally was far behind that for China and Iran.

The kingdom practises a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 8, 2016

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