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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Iranian Official Confirms Execution of 20 Sunni Prisoners

Mass execution in Iran (file photo)
Mass execution in Iran (file photo)
Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the Attorney General of Iran, has confirmed the execution of 20 Sunni prisoners at Karaj's Rajai Shahr Prison on Tuesday August 2.

Iran Human Rights (AUG 3 2016): In an exclusive interview with Iranian state run media IRIB, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the Attorney General of Iran, said 20 Sunni prisoners were executed at Karaj's Rajai Shahr Prison (west of Tehran) on Tuesday August 2, but he did not mention their identities. Earlier, the Judiciary in the Kurdistan province had issued a statement about the execution of a "group of convicts" for membership in "Sunni militant groups". The statement did not mention the number of executions or the identities of the prisoners. Iran Human Rights is further investigating these executions and will be publishing an updated report.

On Tuesday August 2, Iran Human Rights had reported on the execution of at least ten Sunni prisoners at Rajai Shahr Prison; including Shahram Ahmadi, Khaled Maleki, Mokhtar Rahimi, Bahman Rahimi, Kaveh Veisi, and Kaveh Sharifi. On Monday August 31, the ward where the men were being held was raided by special guards in black gear and the prisoners were placed under strict security measures. According to close sources, the Iranian forces handcuffed and shackled the feet of around 30 Sunni minority prisoners and transferred them to an unknown location. A confirmed source tells Iran Human Rights: "They took a total of 36 people out from Hall 10, and seven of them have only been sentenced to death in the lower court. Their cases are still in review at the Supreme Court."

According to close sources, the family members of several of the prisoners were informed by Iranian authorities to come in for their final visit on Tuesday August 2 at 3pm Tehran time. "More than 20 families were told to come to Rajai Shahr Prison, and we're currently on our way there," the wife of one of the prisoners told Iran Human Rights. She insisted her husband was innocent and deserved a fair and open trial. While the families were on their way to the prison, they reportedly received phone calls from unidentified sources telling them to meet at Behesht e Zahra cemetery instead for the funeral of their family members.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemns the execution of the Sunni prisoners and calls for international condemnation of these executions. “Many if not all of these prisoners were subjected to unfair trials and sentenced to death based on confessions extracted under torture. Their execution is a crime, and Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and the other leaders of the Islamic Republic must be held accountable for these crimes," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

Source: Iran Human Rights, August 3, 2016

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