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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: Three executed for drug trafficking

Public beheading in KSA (file photo)
Public beheading in KSA (file photo)
February 17, 2016: Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens and two Yemeni nationals on charges of drug trafficking, bringing to 63 the number of decapitations in the kingdom since the start of year.

Saudi national, Daifallah al-Omrani, was executed in the northern region of Tabuk after his conviction for smuggling amphetamines, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Yemeni nationals Ahmed Mubarak and Abdul Salam al-Jamali were beheaded in the southwestern city of Jizan, on charges of attempting to smuggle hashish into the kingdom.

According to an AFP count, Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. 

This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

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, Feb. 17, 2016

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