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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Indonesian court sentences 4 drug smugglers to death

Meth bust by Indonesian police (file photo)
Meth bust by Indonesian police (file photo)
The Medan District Court on Wednesday decided on capital punishment for 4 Indonesians convicted of smuggling 270 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from Malaysia to North Sumatra.

The 4 defendants are businessmen Ayau and Daud, alias Athiam, from Bengkalis, Riau, Lukmansyah, a security guard in Dumai, Riau, and Jimmy Syahputra, a resident of Deli Serdang, North Sumatra.

The panel of judges found that they violated the Narcotics Law, which carries a maximum penalty of death for traffickers.

"The defendants are proven to have conspired to traffic narcotics. With all the evidence, the judges rejected their defence and ordered the death penalty," said presiding judge Asmar while reading out the verdict on Wednesday night.

In October, the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), along with the Dumai Customs Office, foiled the smuggling in Medan, North Sumatra.

Almost 300 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu-shabu, were packaged in 45 boxes.

The value of the substance is estimated to be Rp 500 billion, with the average price of meth in Indonesia Rp 2 billion per kilogram.

Indonesia is currently one of the main markets for meth trafficking in Asia. A number of smuggling attempts in large amounts have been successfully foiled by the authorities.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has implemented a tough drug policy by ordering executions of drug traffickers since he took office in 2014.

The government is currently preparing for a 3rd round of executions of 18 inmates, despite condemnation from human rights activists.

Asmar said the syndicate transported the meth from China to Malaysia and finally to Medan, North Sumatra.

Daud first met a person, identified as Lau Lai alias Aan alias Jecky who is still at large, at the CK Malaka Hotel in Malaysia in August.

They later plotted to smuggle the drugs to Medan. Lau Lai asked Daud to find a receiver and a warehouse to keep the meth in Medan.

Daud later contacted Ayau and Irwan Toni, also still at large, to find the meth storage place in Medan.

Daud also contacted Jimmy and transferred Rp 55 million to the latter's account to purchase a car to unload and transport the large amount of meth from Dumai port, Riau, to Medan.

The court also revealed that in September Irwan contacted Lukmansyah to tell him that the meth packages were on their way to Medan. It was at this time that the information was leaked to the custom officials in Dumai.

The meth arrived at Dumai in October and was initially to be kept in a water tank at the Jade Square warehouse complex on Jl. Yos Sudarso, Medan.

Authorities raided the warehouse a day after the meth arrived and arrested Jimmy and seized the meth packages.

The lawyer of the 4 defendants, Nurwadi Aco, said he would appeal the verdict.

"Several facts are still in dispute," he said after the trial.

Source: The Jakarta Post, June 23, 2016

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