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The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Leader of Indonesia gang which raped, murdered girl sentenced to death

Suspects charged for the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year old schoolgirl appear in court in the Indonesian city of Curup on August 4, 2016.
Suspects charged for the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year old schoolgirl
appear in court in the Indonesian city of Curup on August 4, 2016.
An Indonesian court on Thursday sentenced to death the leader of a gang of men and boys who raped and murdered a schoolgirl in a case that prompted the president to take steps to impose harsher punishments for attacks on children.

The gang leader, Zainal, was sentenced to death in a court on Sumatra island. 4 other men were jailed for 20 years for their roles in the April attack on the 14-year-old in the western island by a group of 14 males, including eight boys.

Sexual violence against women and children is common in Indonesia but gang rape is unusual.

The case shocked the world's fourth most populouscountry and prompted President Joko Widodo to sign a regulation allowing for harsher punishments for child rapists, including death and chemical castration.

The regulation is pending approval in parliament.

"Because of the sadistic nature of the crime ... the court sentences Zainal to death," said presiding judge Henny Faridha.

The youngest member of the gang was 13 years old.

They attacked the girl as she was on her way to school. Her battered body was found in a rubber plantation a few days later, after her parents reported her missing.

7 gang members were earlier jailed for 10 years, while 1 was ordered into a rehabilitation program for a year. 1 suspect is on the run, according to police.

The victim's parents, who were in court, said the sentencing was inadequate.

"They should all get the death penalty," Yana, the victim's mother, told reporters as she broke down in tears.

The attack was reminiscent of a 2012 fatal gang rape of a female university student in India's capital, New Delhi, which provoked a national outcry and soul-searching about the treatment of girls and women in Indian society.

Source: Reuters, September 29, 2016

Indonesian sentenced to death in fatal gang-rape case


The leader of an Indonesian gang who murdered and gang-raped a schoolgirl was sentenced to death Thursday, in a high-profile case that led to the introduction of tougher punishments for child sex offenders.

Zainal was handed the death penalty at a court on western Sumatra island while four other men were sentenced to 20 years each over the case.

The murder and gang-rape of the 14-year-old, who was attacked by a group of men and boys in April as she made her way back from school, shocked the country and sparked a national debate about a failure to tackle endemic sexual violence.

President Joko Widodo responded to growing anger about the case in May by introducing tough new punishments for child sex offenders, including a maximum penalty of death, chemical castration and forcing convicted paedophiles to wear electronic monitoring devices.

Following the discovery of the teenager's body tied up and naked in the woods, police arrested 13 people over the attack while one alleged perpetrator is still at large.

Zainal, a 23-year-old who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was sentenced to death for premeditated murder, which was a crime already punishable by death before the new laws were introduced.

"This sentence was handed down because the defendant was the one who persuaded other defendants (to commit the crime)," presiding judge Heny Farida told the court in the town of Curup.

The mother of the victim shouted in protest after the verdicts were handed down, demanding all the defendants be sentenced to death.

Asrorun Niam Sholeh, chairman of government-backed rights group the National Commission for Child Protection, welcomed the decision to hand down the death penalty and said it highlighted that child sex attacks were "an extraordinary crime".

The others involved in the case, who were all minors, have already been jailed with most receiving 10-year sentences.

The attack captured national attention when reports of the incident went viral on social media, prompting tens of thousands to sign online petitions and sparking protests in the capital Jakarta.

It has drawn comparisons with the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, which sparked mass protests and led to an overhaul of India's rape laws.

Source: Agence France-Presse, September 29, 2016

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