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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam released from death row in Libya

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in court in Zintan
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in court in Zintan.
Muammar Gaddafi's British-educated son was released from death row in Libya earlier this year and now appears to be at large even though he faces charges at the International Criminal Court. (ICC)

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the ousted dictator's most prominent son, was sentenced to die by firing squad last year and was thought to be in prison in the western city of Zintan.

It has now emerged he was in fact released from in April and his whereabouts are unknown.

A document apparently from Libya’s temporary ministry of justice ordered his release under an amnesty law following appeals by elders from the Gaddafi tribe.

Gaddafi’s British lawyer, Karim Khan, told France 24 that his client was freed on April 12 and “is well and safe and in Libya”.

News of his release may stir tensions in Libya, especially as he was let go by militias in Zintan, a province that is already at odds with the other leading elements of Libya’s UN-backed unity government.

The 44-year-old was the most western-oriented of Col Gaddafi's eight children and well known in British society.

He studied at the London School of Economics and received a PhD - part of which he was subsequently accused of plagiarising.

Some Western diplomats hoped he would eventually replace his dictator father and lead Libya to economic and political reforms.

But when the Libyan uprising began in 2011 he sided with his father’s regime and vowed to crush the revolt.

He was captured in November 2011, just a few weeks after the elder Gaddafi was killed, and later charged in a Libyan court with war crimes.

The sentence of death handed down by a Tripoli court last year was widely criticised by the UN and human rights groups who said that Gaddafi had not been given a fair trial.

He is still wanted by the ICC to face charges for his role during the Libyan uprising. International prosecutors allege he was responsible for crimes against humanity and murder during the 2011 conflict.

Source: The Telegraph, Ralf Sanchez, July 7, 2016

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