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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…

Gurdip Singh's Wife Appeals For His Safe Return From Indonesia

Gurdip Singh's wife and children appeal for his safe return.
Gurdip Singh's wife and children appeal for his safe return.
48-year-old Singh was among 10 convicts who were to be executed but were not put to death.

JALANDHAR -- The wife of Indian national Gurdip Singh, who was to be executed over drug charges last night in Indonesia today said that she spoke to him twice this morning and he has been sent back to jail.

Appealing the Indonesian government for mercy to Singh, his wife Kulwinder Kaur said he has spent 14 years in jail which was enough penance for his crime if he was guilty and he should be sent back to his country.

"I spoke to him twice this morning and he said he is fine. His execution was dropped at the last minute after four others were put to death by the firing squad," Kaur said.

External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj said this morning that 48-year-old Singh had not been executed. However, it was not clear under what circumstance the Indian who was to be executed along with 14 other convicts was spared.

Four of them were put to death by the firing squad last night.

48-year-old Singh was among 10 convicts who were not put to death.

He was found guilty by an Indonesian court of trying to smuggle in 300 grams of heroin and was handed death penalty in 2005.

"A priest was invited and a van had also arrived to carry his body but the execution was halted at the last minute. He was then sent back to the prison," she said.

"Gurdip asked me to appeal to the government to halt the execution and bring him back to the country. He wants to meet his family," Kaur said.

Expressing gratitude to the central government for its efforts, she said "Swaraj has been constantly in touch with me and has assured me that the government is trying everything to save Gurdip from execution."

Singh, who hails from Jalandhar in Punjab, is among 14 people who were facing execution after the authorities decided to resume implementing death penalty.

The 14 convicts included persons from Indonesia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Singh was arrested on August 29, 2004, at the Soekarno Hatta Airport on charges of drug trafficking. The Tangerang Court awarded him capital punishment in February 2005, against the prosecutors' request for 20 years imprisonment.

His appeal against the death penalty was turned down by the High Court of Banten in May, 2005. He then appealed to the Supreme Court which also upheld his death penalty. He is presently detained at Nusakambangan Pasir Putih, Cilacap.

Source: HuffPost India, July 29, 2016

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