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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…

Pakistan hangs 2 brothers for murdering 6 people

The execution comes just days after Amnesty International called out Pakistan for being the world's 3rd most prolific executioner

Pakistan on Saturday, April 9, hanged two brothers convicted of murdering 6 people from the same family, just days after Amnesty International criticized the country for becoming the world's 3rd most prolific executioner after China and Iran.

Nasir Mehmood and Tahir Iqbal were hanged in a jail in the eastern Pakistani city of Sialkot early Saturday for the 2002 murders, senior prison official Chaudhry Arshad Saeed Arain told AFP.

The hanged men killed 6 members of a family over a land dispute, jail officials said. No further details were available.

A 6-year moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in Pakistan after Taliban attackers gunned down more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014.

Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but in March they were extended to all capital offences.

Executions in the Muslim-majority nation have helped fuel an increase worldwide, Amnesty International said in a report this week, with at least 1,634 people put to death globally in 2015, the highest figure recorded since 1989.

"Over the past year, Pakistan has vaulted to the number 3 spot for recorded state executions in the world - a shameful position no one should aspire to," Champa Patel, director of Amnesty's South Asia office, told AFP.

Pakistan executed 326 people last year, Patel said.

The overwhelming majority of those hanged since Pakistan fully restored the death penalty in March 2015 had no links to terrorism, said Sarah Belal, director of the Justice Project Pakistan, which advocates the abolition of hanging and represents death row convicts.

Source: rappler.com, April 8, 2016

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