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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…

Pakistani, Saudi executed in Saudi Arabia

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi authorities executed two men on Tuesday, bringing to 98 the number of executions carried out in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom so far this year.

Pakistani Mohammed Mokhtar, who was convicted of heroin trafficking, was executed in the eastern city of Dammam, the ministry said.

Saudi citizen Ali Assiri, who was found guilty of stabbing a fellow tribesman to death, was executed in the southwestern region of Asir, the interior ministry said.

Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

There were no beheadings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in the kingdom on June 6.

However, executions resumed on Sunday when authorities put a Saudi murderer to death.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

Amnesty’s figures do not include secretive China.

The London-based watchdog says the Saudi rate of executions this year is “higher than at the same point last year”.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for “terrorism” offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions, leading Riyadh to sever relations.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 19, 2016


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