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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…

Saudi regime carries out 86th beheading in 2016

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has decapitated a Pakistani national after sentencing him to death for smuggling drugs, bringing to 86 the number of such executions in the kingdom since the start of this year.

The convicted Pakistani man, identified as Shah Zaman Khan Sayyed, was beheaded in the Riyadh region, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The man was found guilty of attempting to smuggle heroin and amphetamines into the kingdom, the interior ministry added.

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution in Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi authorities carry out beheading of a convicted man in public.

The latest beheading occurred as US President Barack Obama is on a 2-day visit to the oppressive kingdom.

Before Obama left for Riyadh to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Britain-based international right group Amnesty International wrote a letter, urging him to consider the country's human rights issues.

In the most stunning case this year, Saudi Arabia executed on January 2 prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along 46 other people in defiance of international calls for the release of the prominent Shia cleric and other jailed political dissidents in the kingdom.

Saudi authorities have beheaded several opposition figures and dissidents in recent years.

Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

Riyadh has been under fire for having one of the world's highest execution rates.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on the Saudi regime to abolish its "ghastly" beheadings.

Under the Saudi law, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, homosexuality and murder carry the death penalty. Most Saudi executions are carried out by beheading with a sword.

In summer 2015, Saudi Arabia, with an appalling human rights record, was appointed to head an important panel at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 22, 2016

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