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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…

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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