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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

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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