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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 own citizen for murder; 56th beheading this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi authorities executed a Saudi national on Monday for the murder of a compatriot, bringing the number of executions by capital punishment to 56 in the kingdom this year.

Ahmed al-Harbi was found guilty of stabbing and shooting Fahed al-Balawi during a quarrel, according to a statement by the interior ministry published by state news agency SPA.

Harbi was executed in the northern city of Tabuk. 

Most executions in Saudi Arabia are beheadings carried out by sword.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia ordered the execution of 153 people, the majority of which were death penalty sentences given for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP tally.

On a single day last month it put 47 people to death for "terrorism", including influential Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Amnesty International reports that the total number of executions in the kingdom in 2015 was the highest for 2 decades.

Saudia Arabia enforces 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 1, 2016

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