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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…

Kuwait upholds death sentence for mosque blast ringleader

Triple execution in Kuwait on April 1, 2013
Triple execution in Kuwait on April 1, 2013
Kuwait's supreme court today upheld the death sentence handed down to the main convict in the Islamic State group bombing of a Shiite mosque that killed 26 people.

The court confirmed the sentence of capital punishment passed on Abdulrahman Sabah Saud, a stateless man who drove the Saudi suicide bomber to the mosque in June last year. 

The court also upheld jail terms of between 2 and 15 years for 8 people, including 4 women, and acquitted 15 others including 3 women.

The court did not hear the appeals of 5 others -- 4 Saudis and a stateless man -- who had been sentenced to death in absentia by a lower court.

Under Kuwaiti law, sentences issued in absentia are not reviewed by higher courts until those convicted appear in person.

The 4 Saudi men still at large include 2 brothers who smuggled the explosives belt used in the attack into Kuwait from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The 5th man is a stateless Arab.

29 defendants, including 7 women, had been charged with helping the Saudi suicide bomber attack a Shiite mosque in the capital, which was the bloodiest in Kuwait's history.

An IS-affiliated group calling itself Najd Province claimed the bombing as well as suicide attacks on 2 Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia in May last year.

Najd is the central region of Saudi Arabia.

The Sunni extremists of IS consider Shiites to be heretics and have repeatedly attacked Shiite targets in the region.

In addition to driving the suicide bomber, Saud was also charged with bringing the explosives belt from a site near the border and aiding the bomber.

At his initial trial, Saud confessed to most charges, but later denied them all in the appeals and supreme courts.

The death penalty in Kuwait is carried out by hanging, and to be implemented it requires the approval of the Gulf state's ruler.

Among the supreme court's main verdicts today, the court upheld the commuting of the death sentence for the alleged IS leader in Kuwait, Fahad Farraj Muhareb, to 15 years in prison.

It also upheld the acquittal of Jarrah Nimer, owner of the car used to transport the bomber.

Courts in Kuwait have previously handed down several verdicts against IS supporters and financiers.

Source: Agence France-Presse, May 30, 2016

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