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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…

10 prisoners hanged in Iran in new wave of executions

Execution in Iran
NCRI - Iran's fundamentalist regime has hanged at least 10 people in prisons since the weekend, in what has been described as a new wave of executions.

Earlier on Wednesday at least six other death-row prisoners in Ghezelhesar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, were transferred to solitary confinement for their imminent execution.

The regime's judiciary in Mazandaran Province announced that a 27-year-old prisoner identified by the initials Z. Ch. was hanged in a prison in Sari, northern Iran, on Sunday, April 24. Earlier in the week, the judiciary had announced that a second 27-year-old prisoner, identified only by the initials H. H., was also hanged in prison in Sari on Sunday.

Elsewhere, the regime’s judiciary in Qazvin Province announced that an unnamed man was hanged in Qazvin Central Prison, north-west of Tehran, on Tuesday.

At least five prisoners were hanged on Saturday in Zahedan Central Prison, south-east Iran. Another three prisoners were hanged in the same prison on Tuesday.

Three of those executed in Zahedan were identified as: Jamshid Dehvari, 30; Sadeq Rigi, 35; and Mohammad Sanchouli, who is believed to have been 22 years old.

Mr. Sanchouli had been behind bars for the past five years including time he served in the prison’s ward for juveniles. He is believed to have been under 18 at the time of his arrest.

The hangings bring to at least 46 the number of people executed in Iran since April 10. Three of those executed were women and one is believed to have been a juvenile offender.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a statement on April 13 that the increasing trend of executions “aimed at intensifying the climate of terror to rein in expanding protests by various strata of the society, especially at a time of visits by high-ranking European officials, demonstrates that the claim of moderation is nothing but an illusion for this medieval regime.”

Ms. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was in Tehran on April 16 along with seven EU commissioners for discussions with the regime’s officials on trade and other areas of cooperation.

Her trip was strongly criticized by Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI who said: “This trip which takes place in the midst of mass executions, brutal human rights violations and the regime's unbridled warmongering in the region tramples on the values upon which the EU has been founded and which Ms. Mogherini should be defending and propagating.”

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,300 executions during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of “God’s commandments” and “laws of the parliament that belong to the people.”

The NCRI in a separate statement on Sunday warned that 10 death-row prisoners, transferred to solitary confinement in Ghezel-Hessar Prison in Karaj and Zahedan Prison, are at imminent risk of execution. It called on international human rights organizations to take urgent action to save their lives.

Source: NCRI, April 27, 2016

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