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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Stays of executions last minute decision: Prasetyo

An ambulance carrying the body of one of the four executed drug convicts leaves Cilacap, Central Java on July 29, 2016
An ambulance carrying the body of one of the four executed drug convicts leaves
Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia on July 29, 2016.
Attorney General M. Prasetyo has said the stay of execution for 10 drug convicts on Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, was a last minute decision after considering various judicial and non-judicial aspects.

The decision involved the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and relevant institutions, Prasetyo said, without providing further details on the matter.

"It was decided to carry on with executions of four drugs convicts, while executions for the other 10 will be decided later and carried out at an appropriate time," Prasetyo said.

Meanwhile, the remaining 10 death-row convicts will be transferred back to their former prisons until a final decision is made, Prasetyo said.

He rejected claims that the country had halted the executions as a result of international pressure, adding that even though officials had heard many opinions, all parties should respect Indonesian law.

Freddy Budiman, Seck Osmane, Michael Titus and Humphrey Jefferson executed

Four drug convicts executed early Friday morning were big players in the drug trade, which was the basis for the government's decision to proceed with their executions amid global public outcry and local pleas for clemency, an official said on Friday.

The government executed four drug convicts Friday and spared 10 others after thorough consideration, Attorney General's Office junior prosecutor for general crimes Noor Rachmad said. Indonesian Freddy Budiman, Seck Osmane from Senegal and Nigerians Michael Titus Igweh and Humphrey Ejike were those executed.

"The four convicts were major drug dealers. For example, Freddy trafficked drugs in Jakarta, Medan, Bali and Papua," he said during a media briefing at Wijaya Pura Dock in Cilacap, Central Java, after the executions took place.

Moreover, all four convicts had appealed for judicial reviews and all had been rejected by the Supreme Court, Rochmad said.

"We conducted thorough and comprehensive consideration as to why the four inmates should be executed," he added.

The remaining 10 convicts will face further legal process, including judicial reviews, which was the reason for their executions being put on hold despite the preparations, including coffins, ambulances and funds for body transfer, being made for 14 people.

Freddy had been a notorious drug kingpin who was sent to prison on multiple drug charges. Arrested for the first time in 2009, Freddy was sentenced to death by the West Jakarta District Court for attempting to smuggle 1.4 million ecstasy pills from China into the country. He continued to control his international drug network and production despite being locked up behind bars on Nusakambangan prison island.

Meanwhile, Osmane was sentenced to death by the South Jakarta District Court for the possession of 2.4 kilograms of heroin in 2004. Nigerians Igweh and Ejike were sentenced to death for 5.8 kilograms of heroin possession in 2002 and 1.7 kilograms in 2003, respectively.

Freddy's body was taken to his hometown in Surabaya, East Java, Ejike was cremated in Banyumas while Osmani's and Igweh's bodies were handed over to representatives of their respective countries, Rochmad said.

Source: The Jakarta Post, July 29, 2016

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