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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…

Hamas announces public executions that will 'take Gaza past Saudi Arabia'

Hamas members prepare to execute Palestinians for allegedly spying for Israel in August 2014.
Hamas members prepare to execute Palestinians for allegedly spying for Israel
in August 2014.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas is to carry out a string of public executions in the Gaza strip, the patch of territory it controls.

The executions were announced by Hamas's attorney general in Gaza, Ismail Jaber. "Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza," he said. "I ask that they take place before a large crowd."

13 men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, are currently awaiting execution, another Hamas official, Khalil al-Haya, said on Friday at the main prayers.

If all those go ahead, Gaza's execution rate relative to the size of its population will overtake that of Saudi Arabia's in one go.

Last year, Saudi Arabia, with a population of 31.5 million, executed 153 people. Though one of the most densely populated territories in the world, Gaza has a population of just 1.8 million.

Palestinian law allows the death penalty for collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers.

On Sunday, the families of the victims of those on death row protested in favour of the executions outside Gaza's parliament, after the authorities gave a rare permission to stage a public demonstration.

The last time Hamas carried out public executions was during the summer 2014 war with Israel, when a Hamas firing squad shot dead 7 people outside Gaza's main mosque following Friday prayers. Bodies were then dragged through the streets.

According to a May 2015 report by Amnesty International, Hamas forces also carried out at least 23 extrajudicial killings of Palestinians in Gaza in 2014, with at least 17 people killed on 1 day alone.

So far in 2016, approximately 10 people have been sentenced to death in Gaza.

Since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, more than 170 Palestinians have been sentenced to death and around 30 have been executed, mostly in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

All execution orders must in theory be approved by the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, but his legitimacy is not recognised by Hamas in the Gaza strip.

In February this year, it was announced that Mahmoud Ishtiwi, a commander from Hamas's military wing, was executed in Gaza by a firing squad.

Source: telegraph.co.uk, May 24, 2016

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