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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…

Internal investigation found Pakistani facing execution in Indonesia is innocent

"The report found Zulfiqar Ali was a victim of conspiracy and was innocent"
"The report found Zulfiqar Ali was a victim of conspiracy and was innocent"
Cilacap: Fears that innocent people will be killed in Indonesia's looming executions are intensifying, with a former senior government official revealing an internal investigation he conducted into a condemned Pakistani man suggested he was innocent.

The former director-general of human rights in the Ministry of Law, Hafid Abbas, said an investigation he had conducted more than a decade ago was never acted upon by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"The report found Zulfiqar Ali was a victim of conspiracy and was innocent," Dr Hafid told Fairfax Media.

Fourteen death row prisoners from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India and Indonesia were on Tuesday told they had 72 hours to live.

Pakistani textile worker Zulfiqar Ali was sentenced to death in 2005 for possessing 300 grams of heroin.

However his case was among those Dr Hafid was tasked with investigating after a World Bank report raised concerns about the rule of law in Indonesia.

Dr Hafid said that after a comprehensive internal investigation, which included visiting Pakistan, he told the former president he believed Mr Ali was innocent and his case should be reviewed.

However the report was never acted on and Dr Hafid said he was worried that Mr Ali was now facing execution: "The death penalty is the point of no return when you kill an innocent person".

Dr Hafid said he was available at any time to brief Mr Joko on the report, in the hope that Mr Ali's execution might be postponed.

Human rights monitor Imparsial is also pleading with Mr Joko to remove Mr Ali from the execution list.

They said he had been tortured by investigators after he refused to pay a bribe and was sentenced to death even though he had never been caught with drugs in his possession.

Mr Ali was arrested on the testimony of Indonesian national Gurdip Singh, who was arrested with heroin at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport in 2004.

However Gurdip, who is also facing execution on Friday, later retracted his statement, saying it had been forced by police and Mr Ali was innocent.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, July 28, 2016

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