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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…

Saudi Arabia: First execution since Ramadan

Public execution of a Burmese woman in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution of a Burmese woman in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH: Saudi authorities executed a murderer in the holy city of Mecca on Sunday, the first death sentence to be carried out since before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Fahd al-Hasni, a Saudi, was put to death after being convicted of stabbing dead a fellow citizen, the interior ministry said in a statement published on the official SPA news agency.

Most people executed in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword.

It was the 96th execution of the year in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, which imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

The last execution in the Gulf country took place on May 29, more than a week before Ramadan began.

There were no beheadings during the fasting month and the following Eid’l Fitr feast.

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. Its figures do not include secretive China.

The London-based watchdog has said that the 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 Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions triggering the severing of relations between the Middle East’s leading Sunni and Shiite powers.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 17, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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