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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…

Bahrain appeals court upholds death sentence for police killers

Bahrain
The Terror Crime Prosecution Chief Advocate General Ahmed Al Hammadi said the High Court of Appeals today upheld death and lifetime sentences pronounced by a lower court against defendants for killing 3 officers.

The defendants were found guilty of placing an explosive device to target police forces in the Northern Area on March 3, 2014, that killed first-lieutenant Tariq Mohammed Al Shehi and policemen Mohammed Raslan and Ammar Abdou Ali Mohammed.

The court ruled the execution of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th suspects and a life in jail term for the 1st suspect and the 5th to the 10th suspects.

The court also revoked the citizenship of the 1st 8 suspects, and ordered all suspects to re-pay collectively for the damage incurred from the incident.

The suspects had lured the police forces to the location of the blast through rioting that necessitated the intervention of the public order servicemen.

The suspects detonated the device as the police force arrived, resulting in the death of three officers and the injuries of 13 others.

Investigations carried out by the public prosecution indicated that the first and second suspects had formed a terror group as part of the so-called Saraya Al Ashtar terrorist organisation.

They succeeded in recruiting the other suspects who had experience in making and using explosives and in acts of rioting with the purpose of forming groups that undertake terror attacks against policemen, destruction of vital security installations to undermine public order and to prevent the authorities from carrying out their work.

The suspects made several explosive packages and held several meetings during which they prepared their criminal plot to achieve the goals and purposes of the group.

As part of their terror plot, they agreed to use a funeral procession and laid explosives attached to remote detonation devices in different locations where in they knew the forces would gather to maintain public order. They lured the forces to the locations of the explosives with the purpose of causing the biggest number of causalities among them.

The suspects during the previous night placed 3 explosives on the road and tasked the 4th suspect to detonate the 1st which killed the 3 policemen. They assigned other members of the group who are still at large to detonate the 2nd and 3rd under the supervision of the 3rd suspect while the 5th suspect would photograph the location and the rest of suspects would monitor the situation. On March 3, 2014, they faked the rioting to lure the police forces to the location. The 4th suspect followed the police arrival from the top of a building and as soon as the servicemen arrived he detonated the explosive using a mobile phone.

The suspects could not detonate the 2 other explosives as the 2nd package was affected by the 1st blast and since none of the policemen has approached the location of the 3rd explosive.

The prosecution referred the 8 suspects, 3 in absentia, to the 4th High Criminal Court.

The case was deliberated during the sessions of the Criminal Court which listened to their defence arguments. The court enabled them to present all aspects of their defence arguments.

The court listened to the Public Prosecution's argument in conclusion of which it demanded the maximum penalty be meted out on the suspects. The court issued its sentence after it found the suspects guilty.

The court relied in its verdict on the firm evidence presented by the Public Prosecution that the suspects had committed the crimes ascribed to them, including reliance on witnesses' testimonies, seized materials and tools used in making the explosives found in possession of the suspects, including evidence of communications found in the phone of 1 of the suspects on the day of the incident.

The court also relied on technical reports including traces of human cells of one of the suspect on the explosives placed on the location of the crime.

Under Bahrain's law, the case can be taken to the Cassation Court for the ultimate ruling.

Source: Bahrain News Agency, May 31, 2016

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