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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…

Maldives foreign minister quits citing row on death penalty

The Maldives Supreme Court upheld lower courts verdict to execute Hussein Humam Ahmed. The 22-year-old was convicted of killing MP Dr A. Ali.
The Maldives Supreme Court upheld lower courts verdict to execute Hussein Humam
Ahmed. The 22-year-old was convicted of killing MP Dr A. Ali.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Maldives' foreign minister resigned Tuesday saying she has irreconcilable disagreements with the government's decision to implement the death penalty.

Dunya Maumoon said in a statement that her decision to step down was inevitable "because of the profound differences of opinion on the government's policy on implementing the death penalty at a time when serious questions are being asked and concerns being expressed about the delivery of justice in the Maldives."

But local media said the resignation is also a result of differences between President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who is Dunya's uncle, and her father Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who previously ruled the country for 30 years.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is now the leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives.

The rift surfaced last week when Maumoon Abdul Gayoom openly opposed a law to lease out islands and lagoons for tourism projects without competitive bidding.

Last month, the Supreme Court last month confirmed the death penalty for a 22-year-old man convicted of killing a lawmaker in 2012. Just days before the court's ruling, the government had amended rules to allow execution by lethal injection or hanging, indicating that the country's decades-long moratorium on executions will soon end.

The latest dispute could exacerbate the country's already fragile politics, with Maumoon Abdul Gayoom moving to strengthen his hold on the party.

The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after Maumoon had held power for nearly 30 years. But the democratic gains have receded in recent years.

Yameen Abdul Gayoom is accused of using the courts, government bureaucracy and police to suppress the opposition and the media.

Since he was elected to office in 2013, four senior politicians have been jailed after trials that were widely criticized as lacking due process.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's successor, Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president, resigned under heavy criticism for having ordered the military to detain one of the country's top judges. He then lost a presidential election to Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year after a court ruled that the jailing of the judge was akin to terrorism.

Yameen's former vice president, Ahmed Adeeb, was sentenced to 33 years in prison on corruption and terrorism charges, including an alleged plot to assassinate the president.

Yameen's former defense minister, Mohamed Nazim, and opposition party leader Sheik Imran Abdulla are also serving lengthy prison terms.

Source: Associated Press, July 5, 2016

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