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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Bangladesh SC upholds death sentence for Jamaat leader for 1971 war crimes

March 8, 2016: Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for one of the top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, Mir Quasem Ali, for war crimes during the 1971 independence war with Pakistan, which included killing and torturing freedom fighters.

A war crimes tribunal set up in 2010 has sparked violence and drawn criticism from opposition politicians, including leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, that it is victimising Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's political opponents.

Four opposition politicians, including three leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, have been convicted by the tribunal and executed since late 2013.

Mir Quasem, 63, is a member of central executive committee of the Jamaat, the largest Islamist party in Bangladesh, and is one of its most powerful leaders as he is believed to be the chief financier of the party.

He is also a leading businessman in Bangladesh, running firms ranging from print and electronic media to hospitals.

About 3 million people were killed, according to official figures, and thousands of women raped, during the independence war in which some factions, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, opposed the breakaway from what was then called West Pakistan.

The party denies that its leaders committed any atrocities.

Mir Quasem went into hiding after Pakistan occupation forces and their local collaborators surrendered on December 16, 1971, and re-appeared years later as a Jamaat-e-Islami leader.

He was arrested on June 17, 2012 and convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death on November 2, 2014. 

Source: Reuters, March 8, 2016

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