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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 executes 4 for murder, including 3 brothers; 105 executed this year

Medieval and barbaric: Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Medieval and barbaric: Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi authorities executed 4 citizens on Sunday convicted of killing 6 members of their tribe, the interior ministry said.

The killings took place due to a land dispute among members of the Quthami tribe, the ministry said in a statement on the official SPA news agency.

The 4, including 3 brothers, were executed in the western city of Taif, bringing to 105 the number of death sentences carried out in the kingdom this year.

Saudi Arabia's growing use of the death penalty has prompted Amnesty International to call for an "immediate" moratorium on the practice.

The kingdom imposes the death penalty for offences that include murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

On Thursday, authorities carried out the 100th execution of the year.

"Saudi Arabia is speeding along in its dogged use of a cruel and inhuman punishment, mindless of justice and human rights," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa head Philip Luther.

"At this rate, the kingdom's executioners will soon match or exceed the number of people they put to death last year," he said.

Amnesty says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences in 2015, making it the 3rd most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

Amnesty's figures do not include secretive China.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty once and for all," Luther said.

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, triggering a diplomatic crisis between the 2 arch-rivals.

Source: Middle East Eye, July 24, 2016


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