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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Saudi Arabia beheads own citizen for murder; 94th execution this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Riyadh, May 24: Saudi Arabia put to death a citizen convicted of murder today, bringing to 94 the number of executions in the kingdom this year.

Imad al-Assimi was found guilty of shooting dead a compatriot in a dispute, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword. Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for “terrorism” on a single day in January.

According to human rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia had the third-highest number of executions last year — at least 158.

That was far behind Pakistan which executed 326, and Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, which executed at least 977, said Amnesty, whose figures exclude secretive China.

Rights activists have raised concerns about the fairness of trials in Saudi Arabia and have been particularly critical of the use of the death penalty for non-violent offences like drug trafficking.

The interior ministry has said it is “determined to fight drugs of all kinds due to the serious damage they do to individuals and society”.

Saudi Arabia has a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, May 24, 2016

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