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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

5 Indians caught smuggling drugs in China may face death penalty: Lawyers

China: death-row inmates are led to a nearby execution ground
"Drug trafficking is a very serious crime in China."
Indian diplomats in China will be able to meet the accused on Sept. 21.

5 Indians arrested in China for alleged involvement in two cases of drug trafficking could face life imprisonment or even death sentence, say lawyers. The accused, who hail from Kidderpore in Kolkata, have been identified as Sheikh Ahmad Ali (46), Akrar Khan (33), Feroz Khan (31), Sheikh Ismail (24) and Maqsud Alam (24). Ismail is a student of Syamaprasad College in Kolkata.

They have denied knowledge about 24 kg of hashish found hidden in their laptop bags and packets of snacks. They were on their way to Shenzhen in southeastern China, an industrial and trade city that links Hong Kong to China's mainland.

According to legal protocol, Indian diplomats in China will be able to meet the accused on Sept. 21 and till then they will not be allowed to get in touch with their families.

Punishment, according to the law in China, is stricter when the quantity seized is large as that indicates the intent to sell. Cases involving drug lords, professional drug dealers or re-offenders may invite capital punishment in serious cases.

Death sentence may also be used to punish drug smuggling, organised transnational drug crime and armed or violent drug crime, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Last year, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) had also issued a circular emphasising that death penalty should be used to punish drug crime.

"It is a very serious offence. According to the law, any deals related to the sales of marijuana over one kg could attract a punishment of a jail term of 15 years," Shanghai-based lawyer Wang Chune was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. But the quantity involved makes the 5 suspects vulnerable to harsher punishment, she added.

Beijing-based criminal lawyer Zhang Liwen, who handles drug-related cases, also agreed with Wang. "The punishment is likely to be 15 years imprisonment, life sentence or death penalty - death sentence is possible," Zhang said, adding that the results of the suspects being administered drug tests being found negative will be of little help to them.

"Whether these suspects took drugs or not will have no influence on their sentencing and judgment," Zhang added.

Zhang also highlighted that Chinese law doesn't discriminate between Chinese nationals and foreigners and the same laws will apply to the Indians. There have been past precedents of foreign nationals being executed for drug related offences in China, including 5 nationals from Philippines, 6 from Japan and 1 man from Britain.

Source: ibtimes.co.uk, September 13, 2016

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