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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…

Palestinian organization blasts latest Hamas death sentences

Execution of "collaborators" with Israel in Gaza city in August 2014
Execution of "collaborators" with Israel in Gaza city in August 2014
Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemns death sentences handed down to alleged Israeli spies in Gaza.

A Palestinian Authority-based human rights organization on Wednesday condemned the latest death sentences handed down by tribunals in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, AFP reports.

On Tuesday, a military court in Gaza sentenced three local residents to death after they were convicted of providing information to Israel's security services.

The trial of the alleged "spies" was held behind closed doors and without the presence of the media.

The Gaza Military Court announced a sentence of death by hanging for a man identified as M.S., aged 59, from the Tuffah area east of Gaza city on charges of "collaborating with the Israeli occupation."

The Higher Military Court said it had confirmed execution orders against 2 other men, one a 49-year-old man from Khan Yunis, by hanging and a Gaza City man aged 38 by firing squad.

In response, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned in a statement the "excessive" punishment and said that "civilians should not appear before military courts."

The authorities in Gaza executed 3 men behind closed doors in May, the 1st time the death penalty had been carried out since 2014.

13 death sentences have been pronounced this year, 12 of which were issued by military courts, according to PCHR.

Hamas regularly claims to have captured "Israeli spies", and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.

In one such example, the group claimed to have exposed "the most dangerous intelligence agent" who allegedly worked for the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel is punishable by death. All death sentences, however, require the approval of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who issued a moratorium on death sentences in 2005.

Hamas ignores the moratorium and carries out the executions anyway, as it no longer recognizes the legitimacy of Abbas, whose 4-year term expired in 2009.

Amnesty International has previously called on Hamas to stop the executions of suspected collaborators, saying that the group "must immediately and totally cease its use of the death penalty."

Source: Israel National News, July 21, 2016


Palestinian NGO condemns latest Gaza death sentence

A Palestinian human rights organisation condemned on Wednesday the latest death sentences handed down by tribunals in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

A military court in the coastal Palestinian enclave condemned a local man to death on Tuesday on charges of collaborating with Israel, while death sentences issued previously against 2 others were confirmed by a higher military tribunal.

The Gaza Military Court announced a sentence of death by hanging for the man identified as M.S., aged 59, from the Tuffah area east of Gaza city on charges of "collaborating with the Israeli occupation."

The Higher Military Court said it had confirmed execution orders against 2 other men, one a 49-year-old man from Khan Yunis, by hanging and a Gaza City man aged 38 by firing squad.

Both men were convicted of aiding Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned in a statement the "excessive" punishment and said that "civilians should not appear before military courts."

The authorities in Gaza executed 3 men behind closed doors in May, the 1st time the death penalty had been carried out since 2014.

13 death sentences have been pronounced this year, 12 of which were issued by military courts, according to PCHR.

In total, 177 death sentences have been handed out since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, 30 in the West Bank and 147 in Gaza.

Of these, 35 were carried out, all but 2 in the Gaza Strip.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 21, 2016


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