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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…

Vietnam sentences Singapore man to death for trafficking heroin

Ho Chi Minh City
A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday sentenced a Singaporean man to death for trafficking 2.5 kilograms of heroin.

Lee Loke Dah, 40, was arrested at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in December 2014 with a plastic bag containing thousands of capsules. 

Further tests confirmed that the drug was heroin.

The man, who had entered the country 4 days earlier, told investigators that he stole the bag from a stranger in a hotel in District 5 and that he was not aware of the drug.

Prosecutors rejected these claims. The court found him guilty of drug trafficking.

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is punishable by death. 

Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine also face the death penalty.

Source: Thanh Nien News, April 29, 2016

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