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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…

Iran regime hangs 18 people over the weekend

Iran's fundamentalist regime hanged 18 prisoners over the weekend, including 2 cases in public. A woman was among those hanged on Sunday.

11 prisoners were hanged en masse in Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, on Sunday. 2 of the prisoners were identified as Saeed Saberi and Moslem Bahrami. At least 1 of the 11 prisoners was a woman.

2 men, identified only by their initials Q. J. and M. R., were hanged in public in Karaj on Sunday. The 2 men were hanged in a public square in the city's Mehshahr District, the state-run Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday.

Another 3 men were hanged in prison in the city of Birjand, eastern Iran, on Sunday. They were identified as Mansour Zafarani, Yousef Barahoui and Qassem Delshad. They were accused of drugs-related charges.

2 prisoners, whose names were not given but who were said to be 40 and 49 years old, were hanged on Saturday in Lakan Prison in Rasht, northern Iran, according to the state broadcaster IRIB which quoted Ahmad Siavosh-Pour, the provincial head of the judiciary. They were accused of drugs-related charges.

Also it emerged over the weekend that 5 men were hanged on July 11 in the Central Prison of Arak, central Iran. They were identified as Masoud Taqi-Pour, Hassan Faraj-Pour, Mehdi Baqeri, Baqer Jalili and Hamid Haqvin. They too were accused of drugs-related charges.

The mullahs' regime hanged 9 prisoners collectively on July 13 in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.

3 of the executed prisoners were identified as Seyyed Mohammad Taheri, Amir Khadem Rezaiyan and Saeid Ahmadi.

More than 270 Members of the European Parliament signed a joint statement on Iran last month, calling on the European Union to "condition" its relations with Tehran to an improvement of human rights.

The MEPs who were from all the EU Member States and from all political groups in the Parliament said they are concerned about the rising number of executions in Iran after Hassan Rouhani took office as President 3 years ago.

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,500 executions during Hassan Rouhani's tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of "God's commandments" and "laws of the parliament that belong to the people."

Source: NCR-Iran, July 17, 2016

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