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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 Court Sentences 14 to Death in Attacks on Security Forces

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH — A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced 14 men to death on Wednesday in connection with attacks on security forces in a Shiite area in the country’s east, the Al Arabiya satellite network reported.

Of the 24 people tried, one was acquitted and nine others were given sentences ranging from three to 15 years, the network said. 

Those sentenced to death were accused of terrorism.

The men were arrested a few years ago, when protests by members of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority roiled the Qatif area of Eastern Province, leading to clashes with the security forces that left dead about 20 protesters and a number of police officers.

Many Shiites complain of discrimination in the Sunni-majority kingdom whose official creed considers some Shiite beliefs and practices heretical.

The Saudi government characterized the protesters as rioters who harbored armed groups, and it has put some of them on trial on charges that include terrorism. 

Western human rights groups have accused the Saudi government of using the courts to stifle dissent and convicting activists on trumped up charges.

The executions could escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia’s regional Shiite rival, Iran. 

Saudi Arabia’s execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in January sparked protests in Tehran, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties after protesters stormed its embassy.

The men’s death sentences can be appealed.

Source: The New York Times, Ben Hubbard, June 1, 2016

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