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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Pakistan: Two convicted by military courts hanged in Kohat

PESHAWAR: Two 'terrorists' convicted by military courts for involvement in attacks on security officials and civilians were executed at a jail in Kohat Wednesday, a military sourced confirmed.

The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had signed the death warrants of Mehmood and Rab Nawaz last year.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in September last year issued the names of nine ‘hardcore terrorists’ whose death sentences had been approved by the army chief. The convicts executed today were among them.

The ISPR had shared the following details at the time about conviction of the militants hanged on Wednesday:

Mehmood s/o Khawaza Khan, an active member of TTP, was found involved in attacking security personnel in KP, killing two soldiers and injuring 13 others. He admitted his offences before the magistrate and trial court and was awarded death sentence.

Rab Nawaz s/o Shahi Room, an active member of TTP, was involved in killing of two civilians, processing firearms and abetting attack on military in Peshawar which resulted in death of two soldiers and caused severe injuries to another.

Military courts

In the wake of the APS carnage, military courts were set up for trying terrorists under amendments made to the Constitution and the Army Act.

Political parties had unanimously agreed over the issue of setting up military courts to tackle terrorism cases in the country following the gruesome attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, following which the Parliament passed the 21st constitutional amendment in Jan 2015 to set up the said courts.

President Mamnoon Hussain had also promulgated an ordinance further revising the recently amended Army Act to ostensibly aid the functioning of military courts by allowing for trials in camera, i.e without the presence of the public or the media, and over video link if necessary.

The Supreme Court in a majority ruling upheld the establishment of military courts in Pakistan.

Petitions challenging the 21st amendment were dismissed in August this year in a majority 11-6 vote of the 17-member SC bench. Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Dost Muhammad announced the verdict.

In a 14-3 majority vote, petitions challenging the 18th amendment were also dismissed by the bench. Judges provided seven opinions and two additional notes on the ruling.

In its editorials, Dawn has criticised the establishment of military courts for "simply not being compatible with a constitutional democracy."

Source: Dawn, March 30, 2016

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