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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…

21 Malaysian 'drug mules' face death penalty in Thai court

Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand
The 21 Malaysians arrested in Thailand recently on suspicion of being 'drug mules' could face the death penalty under the country's Narcotics Act for possession and sale of Category 1 Substances.

"The suspects can face the death penalty following the large seizure of methamphetamine ('ice') and heroin from them. The police, on their part, have obtained strong evidence against them.

"However, despite the possibility of facing the maximum sentence of death under the stipulated charge, Thai courts seldom hand down the death penalty and prefer the long-term jail sentence, instead," he told Bernama on Sunday.

On March 23 and 24, the Malaysians, in 2 groups of 15 and 6 men were arrested by Thai Railway police at 4 different train stations and in a passenger van.

Seized from them were 226kg of methamphetamine and 8kg of heroin kept in backpacks.

The train they were travelling in was enroute to Butterworth from Hualamphong, Bangkok.

Thai police have described the drug haul as one of the largest confiscated in recent times, which could fetch about RM400mil in Europe.

The Thai police officer also divulged that based on information obtained, there was a link between the Malaysian suspects and a major drug trafficker whose nationality he declined to divulge.

In an interview with Bernama previously, Police Col Puttidej Bunkrapue from the Thai Railway Police said investigations revealed the drug smuggling attempt by the 21 Malaysian suspects was masterminded by 3 men.

The 21 Malaysians are currently under remand at Bangkok's Central Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts.

Source: Bernama, May 8, 2016

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