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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…

Tunisia: Death Sentence in Sufi Shrine Killing

Islamist terrorism in Tunisia
Islamist terrorism in Tunisia
The leader of a group of Takfiri Salafists has been sentenced to death for his part in the killing of a guard at a Sufi shrine in the country's southeast.

Others within the group received sentences varying from life imprisonment to five years for their part in the murder.

The Court learned that the unnamed victim had been on duty at the Sufi, Zaouia Sidi Abdelkader shrine at Menzel Bouzelfa (around 60km from the capital) in February of last year when the group of 13 hooded men approached and stabbed him to death.

The court sentenced the group's leader to death for "voluntary homicide." Another member of the group received a sentence of 36 years imprisonment for involvement in the murder. The remainder of the group received sentences varying between 5 and 10 years, with 3 acquitted.

Although it is still permitted by law, Tunisia voted in favor of the 2012 UN General Assembly moratorium on executions, with no executions having taken place since 1991. Prior to the moratorium, 135 executions occurred within Tunisia, the majority under former President Habib Bourguiba. However, though unused, the sentence remains upon the statute books as the Courts' stiffest sanction.

The death penalty is opposed on principle by many human rights groups. Speaking of its application in terrorist cases, Lotfi Azouz, Director of Amnesty International in Tunis said, "When a Terrorist commits a serious crime, they do so expecting death. This is their mindset. They expect to be a martyr and be sent to heaven, so the death penalty is actually working in their favor."

Sufism is sometimes regarded as the mystical dimension of Islam, cantering upon the internal spirituality of the individual. Sufism involves the search for divine love, which is believed to lead to the path of spiritual awakening.

Given its strong focus upon the internal, as well as the building of shrines to prominent Sufists, conservative and radical preachers tend to claim the sect is heretical and opposed to the fundamental teachings of the Qu'ran.

Source: tunisia-live.net, June 17, 2016

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