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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…

Vietnam drug kingpin, 8 henchmen get death sentence for heroin smuggling

A court in Vietnam sentenced to death a notorious drugs kingpin and 8 associates on Wednesday, delivering the maximum punishment in a single verdict over the trafficking of more than 1/2 a ton of heroin.

The case centered on Trang A Tang, a 33-year-old leader of a network that trafficked drugs from the infamous Golden Triangle area of northwestern Laos, northeastern Myanmar and northern Thailand, and distributed them in Vietnam.

Tang has become well-known for his opulent lifestyle and for managing to evade justice while spending lavishly on big houses and luxury cars.

The 4-day trial in Bac Ninh province heard how the gang had handled 2,181 heroin "cakes", weighing 350 grams (0.77 lb) each, between 2009 and 2013. That works out to 763 kg (1,682 lb) of heroin.

Ton Trong Hung, secretary of the court, said by telephone that nine members of the network had received the death penalty. Tang's wife and father were among 3 others jailed for life.

The judge called Tang "extremely dangerous" and said he "must be permanently removed from society", state-run radio Voice of Vietnam reported on its website.

Trafficking of more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of heroin is punishable by death or life imprisonment in Vietnam.

Vietnam in 2014 condemned 30 people to death and jailed 69 others for trafficking more than 12 tonnes of heroin in a what was the communist country's largest-ever drugs trial, so big that it had to be held outdoors.

Source: Reuters, September 21, 2016

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