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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…

Gaza Strip: Hamas executes three as death penalty resumes

Gaza city: Gallows erected by Hamas militants
Gaza city: Gallows erected by Hamas militants
Three people convicted of murder have been executed in the Gaza Strip, in a move condemned by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

The men were shot or hanged on Tuesday after appeals were exhausted, officials from Gaza's de facto rulers, the Islamist Hamas movement, said.

Hamas did not seek the approval of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as required under Palestinian law.

It underscores the continuing divisions between the main Palestinian factions.

Hamas and President Abbas' Fatah party signed a unity deal in 2014 designed to end a seven-year split which saw the West Bank and the Gaza Strip governed by rival administrations.

However, the agreement has never been properly implemented, leaving Hamas still effectively in charge of the coastal territory.

'Flagrant violation'

The three men, one of whom was a reportedly a policeman employed by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, were executed at dawn.

The general prosecutor's office in Gaza said the men had been put to death "to achieve public deterrence and block crime".

A Gaza security source told the BBC the execution had been attended by the families of the murder victims, the attorney general and representatives of Palestinian factions.

Human rights groups and the UN had called on Hamas not to carry out the sentences.

The step marks a resumption of judicial executions for the first time since the 2014 reconciliation pact.

Palestinian Authority attorney general Ahmed Brak told Reuters news agency that "carrying out the executions represents a flagrant violation of the Palestinian basic law", according to which the president must ratify death sentences.

Those who were involved in Tuesday's executions were complicit in murder and would be held accountable, he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 40 people have been put to death in Gaza since 2007, including 23 suspected collaborators during the 2014 war with Israel.

Most of those executed were convicted in military courts or executed summarily, without a judicial ruling, it said.

Source: BBC News, May 31, 2016


Hamas Executes Three Convicted Palestinians In Gaza

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip has supervised, on Tuesday at dawn, the execution of three convicted Palestinians, despite repeated calls and condemnations from human rights groups.

The Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center said the three Palestinians were convicted of several crimes, including murder, committed more than a year ago.

It added that the executions took place in the Central Prison, in Gaza, and that several officials and representatives attended the executions.

The three were convicted of killing Abdul-Qader Barhoum, Fadel al-Astal and Oleyyan at-Tilbani; their families also attended the executions.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Gaza said “it implemented justice,” and that the executions are what it called a “deterrent to prevent future crimes,” adding that one of these crimes was the murder of Thorayya al-Badri, in her seventies, who was killed after robbers invaded her home.

It claimed the executions were carried out after all appeals were filed, and denied, and after all legal measures were concluded, and added that it would conduct “all measures to protect the society from any violation that would threaten the society’s security and peace.”

The executions were made without the approval of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in direct violation of the basic Palestinian law, but Hamas has already executed many Palestinians since the internal conflict erupted between Fateh and Hamas in 2007.

The three executed Palestinians were among thirteen condemned to death in the Gaza Strip, after they were convicted of committing several crimes.

Hamas legislators in Gaza authorized the executions without the approval of the Legislative Council, and above all, the president who must personally approve each execution, as stated in the Palestinian Law, and amidst condemnation by human rights groups demanding the abolition of capital punishment.

On her part, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), strongly denounced the Hamas decision to execute the 13 convicted Palestinians, and called on the Palestinian President and the government, to completely abolish capital punishment.

Source: imemc.org, May 31, 2016

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