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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Malaysia: Vietnamese Mom Escapes Gallows, Jailed 20 Years for Drug Trafficking

Meth bust at Malaysian airport (File photo)
Meth bust at a Malaysian airport (File photo)
March 28, 2016: A Vietnamese woman shed tears of joy in court after she was spared the gallows in Malaysia for allegedly trafficking in 2.1kg methamphetamine at the Penang International Airport in 2011.

Nguyen Thanh Ngoc Tuyet, 28, in red and white prison clothes, who was sitting in the dock was seen sobbing when the Federal Court announced its verdict to set aside her conviction for drug trafficking.

However, the mother of a child, would have to spend 20 years in jail after the Federal Court’s five-man panel chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif convicted her for possession of the drugs.

He, however, ruled that on totality of evidence, the court was satisfied that Nguyen Thanh was in custody of a bag in which the methamphetamine was concealed.

Nguyen Thanh was found guilty by the George Town High Court on July 18, 2012 for trafficking in the drugs at the arrival hall of the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas at 10.10am on June 26, 2011 and was sentenced to death.

She lost her appeal at the Court of Appeal on March 20, last year to set aside her conviction and death sentence even though two Vietnamese police officers had testified that they had recorded statements from a woman named Tran Tranh Tam who had said that she had did not tell Nguyen Thanh that the goods she was transporting was drugs but instead told her they were clothes.

Nguyen Thanh was allowed by the Court of Appeal to bring in new evidence in the form of two police statements and oral evidence of three Vietnamese witnesses including Tran Tranh.

However, Tran Thanh who was serving an eight-year jail sentence in Vietnam for selling drugs chose not to come to Malaysia to testify.

In her defence, Nguyen Thanh claimed that she had picked up the bag (in which drugs were found) belonging to her friend Tran Tranh and she had no knowledge of the contents of the bag.

In mitigation for a lenient jail sentence, her counsel K. Simon Murali said Nguyen Thanh was an innocent victim who was manipulated by her friend and African boyfriend to act as drug mule.

He said his client has yet to see her daughter who was only one month old when she (Nguyen Thanh) was arrested in 2011.

Source: Bernama, March 28, 2016


Malaysia: Home Ministry says 12 executed in last 6 years

Malaysia has executed 12 out of a total 829 people who were sentenced to death since 2010, the Home Ministry said today.

In a written parliamentary reply to Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, the ministry added that 95 others have received either a royal pardon or had their death sentence commuted.

"The sentence has been handed out due to the offences of murder, drug trafficking, smuggling firearms, and also kidnapping," the ministry said.

Gobind had asked the government to give a breakdown on the death sentences meted out since 2010.

Last week, prison authorities came under criticism for what was described by Amnesty International as the "secretive" hanging of a 34-year-old man at the Taiping prison.

This was because Gunasegaran Pitchaymuthu was reportedly given very short notice regarding his execution.

Discussions and debates to abolish death penalty in Malaysia, especially under the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) had been taking place in Malaysia since 2011, but no legislative amendments had been proposed to date.

Source: themalaymailonline.com, March 30, 2016

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