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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…

4 Bangladesh war crimes convicts get death sentences

Bangladesh
A special tribunal in Bangladesh today handed down death penalty to 4 men for committing war crimes during the 1971 Liberation War by siding with Pakistani troops as the court directed authorities to seek help from Interpol in nabbing 3 of them who are on the run.

Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-BD) in the capital also awarded "imprisonment until death" to a fifth war criminal for carrying out atrocities in northern Kishorganj.

The 5 were found responsible for abductions, torture and killings to help Pakistan to abort Bangladesh's birth in 1971.

All the convicts were former members of Razakar Bahini, a Bengali-manned auxiliary force of the Pakistan army in 1971.

7 charges were brought against them including mass killing, murder, confinement, torture, arson and looting committed in their locality in 1971. Gazi Abdul Mannan, 88, said to be a commander of Razakar camp, Nasiruddin Ahmed, 62, his brother Shamsuddin Ahmed, 60, and Hafiz Uddin, 66, have been given death, while Azharul Islam, 60, has been given imprisonment until death.

Only one of them, Shamsuddin, faced the trial in person while the rest, including a former Bengali captain of the Pakistani force, were tried in absentia.

Witnesses said the 3-member special tribunal led by Justice Anwarul Haque sentenced one of the fugitives the imprisonment until death.

The court, in its 330-page verdict summary, ordered their immediate arrest and directed authorities to seek help from Interpol if necessary.

The verdict came as Bangladesh Supreme Court said it will pronounce the final verdict on May 5 on the death sentence it handed down to chief of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, Motiur Rahman Nizami, deciding his fate over crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

Bangladesh has so far executed 4 war crimes convicts since the process began to try the top Bengali perpetrators of 1971 atrocities in line with the electoral commitment of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2008.

2 others have earlier been handed down "imprisonment until death" penalty instead of capital punishment on grounds of their old age as they exceeded 80.

They subsequently died in the prison cells of a specialised state-run hospital due to old age ailments.

Source: Press Trust of India, May 3, 2016

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