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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…

Govt to submit appeal for Indonesian on death row in Malaysia

The Foreign Ministry will submit an appeal to the Penang High Court in Malaysia regarding Indonesian migrant worker Rita Krisdianti, who was sentenced to the death penalty on Monday for her alleged involvement in drug smuggling.

Taufiq Rodhi, general consul at the Indonesian Consulate General in Penang, said Indonesian officials had instructed an attorney from law firm Goi & Azzura to submit an appeal as the ruling was still at the 1st level of the court system.

"Through the Foreign Ministry, we will keep coordinating with all stakeholders who can help us to provide evidence that could lessen [the punishment]," Taufiq said in a statement.

The opportunity remained, therefore, for further defense from the Indonesian side, he added.

The ministry said it had also cooperated and coordinated with the Indonesian Consulate General in Hong Kong, the country where Rita worked from January to April 2013, as well as the local administration of Ponorogo regency, East Java, where Rita is registered as a resident.

It was also coordinating closely with Rita's family, who attended the hearing with the Consulate General in Penang, Taufiq said.

Indonesian NGOs such as Migrant Care have been given permission to monitor the development of the case, which held its 21st hearing on Monday.

Separately, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir asserted that officials would keep pushing and monitoring the appeal process. He gave his assurances that the legal process was still ongoing.

Rita has been sentenced to the death penalty under section 39B of Malaysia's 1952 Dangerous Drugs Act, following her arrest on July 10, 2013, when Malaysian authorities at Penang's Bayan Lepas Airport found over 4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in her bag.

She claimed she did not know about the meth, saying the bag belonged to a fellow Indonesian who had managed her travel arrangements from Hong Kong to Penang, via Bangkok and New Delhi.

According to the Foreign Ministry, there are currently 154 Indonesian convicts on death row in Malaysia, with 102 citizens - 66 % - involved in drug cases.

The ministry has coordinated closely with the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) to assist the Indonesians by providing information to those who are allegedly victims of drug smuggling.

Workers in Indonesia have begun to show their solidarity with Rita by changing their display pictures on Facebook. The hashtag #SaveRitaKrisdianti has also been widely used. Demonstrations have taken place outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, demanding the release of Rita and safety for other Indonesian migrant workers facing the death penalty.

Source: Jakarta Post, May 30, 2016

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