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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 kills Nigerian man in 95th execution of the year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Fahd Houssawi was put to death for murder of police officer as human rights groups raise concern over surge in executions

Saudi authorities have executed a Nigerian man after convicting him of murdering a police officer.

It was the 95th execution of the year in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, which imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy. The surge in executions has drawn concern from human rights groups.

Fahd Houssawi was executed on Sunday in the western city of Taif, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency. He had been found guilty of strangling a policeman and beating him to death, the ministry said.

Amnesty International has warned that at the current rate Saudi Arabia could see more than 100 executions in the 1st half of 2016.

The London-based watchdog said the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan. Its figures do not include secretive China.

The executions this year are higher than at the same point last year, Amnesty said.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for "terrorism" offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions, triggering a severing of relations.

Source: The Guardian, May 29, 2016

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