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Showing posts from December, 2016

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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…

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Florida's death penalty system will face renewed stress in 2017

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida's death penalty system, under sustained legal assault for the past year, faces renewed pressure in 2017 that will strain courts, victims and taxpayers in ways sure to rekindle a debate over capital punishment.
A series of federal and state court rulings will bring upheaval to a system long criticized for racial disparities and for seemingly endless and unjust delays. Now the state must confront the enormous impact of a case known as Hurst vs. Florida, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that constitutional rights of defendants were violated because their juries had too little say in recommending sentences of death.
Applying the Hurst case to Florida — the state with the second most death row inmates at 384 — the state Supreme Court decided that about half of those inmates should still face execution.
Those inmates were sentenced before 2002, when another case, Ring vs. Arizona, found that it was unconstitutional for a judge instead of a jury to find the fa…

Pakistan to hang 'butcher of Swat' Muslim Khan

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A military court in Pakistan has sentenced a top Pakistani Taliban leader from the Swat region to death.
Muslim Khan, a former spokesman for the militants, was convicted of killing 31 people, including civilians and security personnel, the military said.
He is among eight "terrorists" whose death penalty was confirmed by army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The military courts were set up in the aftermath of the 2014 Peshawar school massacre. Their term expires next week.
Others whose convictions were confirmed by the army chief on Wednesday include four gunmen sentenced for involvement in a 2015 bus massacre of Ismaili Shias in Karachi, and the assassination of social activist Sabeen Mahmud, also in Karachi the same year.
Why 'butcher of Swat'?
Muslim Khan, 62, started out as a student activist of a left-wing secular party in the 1960s, but underwent an ideological transformation in the early 1990s when a pre-Taliban Islamist movement briefly emerged in his native Swa…

Jordan: Five ISIS militants, four drug traffickers sentenced to death

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December 28, 2016: A Jordanian court sentenced five members of an ISIL cell to death by hanging for acts of terrorism.
The state security court in Amman also handed jail terms of between three and 15 years to another 16 Jordanians in the same case.
They were found guilty of deadly "acts of terrorism", the manufacture of explosives and "possession of weapons and ammunition for use in terrorist acts" and recruiting people for "terrorist organisations".
The group of 21 were members of an ISIL cell that was broken up in March during a large-scale security operation in the northern town of Irbid, near the border with Syria.
Seven suspected militants and a member of the Jordanian security forces were killed during the operation.
The authorities announced later that they had foiled ISIL attacks in the kingdom, which had already been hit by deadly attacks over the past year.
Ten people were killed in a shooting rampage on December 18 in the popular tourist…

Nigeria: Edo State Executes Three Inmates

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December 23, 2016: Edo State government executed three death row inmates who were sentenced to death by military tribunals under the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Decree 1971 as amended.
The state had announced its intention to execute three death row prisoners at Oko Prisons in Benin City.
The Nation learnt that the execution took place December 23 as scheduled.
Those executed are – Ogbomoro Omoregie, Apostle Igene and Mark Omosowhota.
They were said to have been executed around 6:00 a.m.
A rights group, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), through its director Chino Obiagwu, had petitioned Governor Godwin Obaseki to halt the planned execution.
“We have filed an appeal pending at the Court of Lagos seeking order that these prisoners have right of appeal under the 1999 Constitution.”
Obiagwu told The Nation on December 27 that his clients had been executed despite the petition.
It could not be confirmed if it was Obaseki or his predecessor Adams Oshio…

Pakistan: Death Sentence Revoked One Day Ahead of Execution

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December 26, 2016: Ghulam Abbas Suhani had to be hanged on December 27 but the execution was stopped today, just one day ahead of the due date, as the elders of the area brought both the parties to the table and helped them settle to a reconciliation, reported Daily Dunya.
According to details, Saleem Suhani had murdered Ghulam Abbas Suhani’s elder brother Mohammad Ramzan. 
Saleem was jailed for this murder but when his brother Fauji Muhammad Esa went to DG Khan, Ramzan’s younger brother Ghulam Abbas murdered him inside the court. He also presented himself for arrest.
The court sentenced him to death. And the sentence was to be carried out on December 27 but the family members and elders of the community helped them reconcile.
Ghulam Abbas’s family paid Saleem’s family with Rs 16.5 million, which is equal to the price of 100 camels, according to Sharia.
Local MPA Javed Akhtar Lund, Chairman Rehan Khan Lund, Maulana Umar Mujahid and Mumtaz Sukhani played a critical role in the rec…

Washington Governor Jay Inslee grants reprieve to child killer on death row

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BELLINGHAM - Gov. Jay Inslee granted a reprieve Thursday to a Bellingham man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
A Whatcom County jury sentenced Clark Richard Elmore to death in 1996, for the killing of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter. Elmore raped Kristy Lynn Ohnstad in a van, choked her until she passed out, drove a metal skewer through her skull, beat her with a sledgehammer, and dumped her body in the woods. She was 14.
Over the past two decades Elmore has appealed to successively higher courts. In October the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case. An execution date was set for Jan. 19.
Inslee formally granted a reprieve Thursday. Two years ago earlier he had announced a moratorium on death sentences in Washington state.
“Governor Inslee has been very consistent that his moratorium on the death penalty cases in Washington isn’t about individual cases,” reads a statement released Thursday by the governor’s office. “As he stated when he announ…

Nebraska: Hearing on controversial lethal injection protocol proposal

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A state hearing on a controversial lethal injection protocol proposal will begin at 9 a.m. Friday at the State Office Building in Lincoln.
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, who opposes the death penalty, and says the proposed protocol raises constitutional questions, will be at the hearing, he said, and ACLU of Nebraska will submit testimony. ACLU presented a petition with 2,000 signatures gathered from across the state to the hearing officer earlier this week, said ACLU Executive Director Danielle Conrad.
The petition tells Gov. Pete Ricketts that Nebraskans want transparency in death penalty protocols.
Dale Baich is an assistant federal public defender in Arizona who has witnessed executions, including John Joubert's in Nebraska in 1996, and has been involved in challenges to execution protocols in a number of states.
He said Thursday that transparency is important in execution protocols, because any time the government acts, its citizens should be fully informed.
"The protoco…

The Stolen Supreme Court Seat

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Soon after his inauguration next month, President-elect Donald Trump will nominate someone to the Supreme Court, which has been hamstrung by a vacancy since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. There will be public debates about the nominee’s credentials, past record, judicial philosophy and temperament. There will be Senate hearings and a vote.
No matter how it plays out, Americans must remember one thing above all: The person who gets confirmed will sit in a stolen seat.
It was stolen from Barack Obama, a twice-elected president who fulfilled his constitutional duty more than nine months ago by nominating Merrick Garland, a highly qualified and widely respected federal appellate judge.
It was stolen by top Senate Republicans, who broke with longstanding tradition and refused to consider any nominee Mr. Obama might send them, because they wanted to preserve the court’s conservative majority. The main perpetrators of the theft were Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, an…

Iran: Public Flogging Sentence Carried Out, Brothers Amputated for Theft

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NCRI - According to eyewitnesses, on December 28th, flogging punishment of a young man charged with theft, and whose identity is unrevealed, has been carried out in public in the city of Iranshahr – South Eastern Iran.
It is worth noting that the United Nations earlier had announced that flogging in Iran is inhumane, cruel, degrading and contrary to international law.
The United Nations says that in international human rights law, in particular the Convention against Torture, flogging punishment is prohibited and could be considered an act of torture.

Fingers of Two Jailed Brothers Amputated for Theft
Iranian regime prison authorities amputated the fingers of two jailed brothers by the names of Faramarz and Majid Bigham on charges of theft. These hideous measures were carried out in Urmia Central Prison in northwest Iran after they served time behind bars for four and a half years. 
Prison authorities also forced dozens of other inmates with similar charges to watch the shocking scen…

Youths among dead as Philippine gunmen kill seven in 'drugs den'

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MANILA (Reuters) - Three minors were among seven people shot dead by suspected vigilantes in the Philippines at a house storing illegal narcotics, police said on Thursday, in the latest killings during a bloody and murky war on drugs.
Two unknown gunmen arrived on motorcycles and entered what police called a drugs den north of the capital Manila late on Wednesday. They opened fire on those inside, killing five instantly before fleeing, according to a police report, which said two other victims died before reaching the hospital.
Four of those killed were teenagers, two of them 15, one 16 and one 18. The killings come as the government of President Rodrigo Duterte prepares legislation to put to Congress to lower the age of criminal liability to nine from 15.
More than 6,100 people have been killed in the past six months during Duterte's controversial war on drugs, about a third in police operations and others classified as deaths under investigation. Police say killings during coun…

Dylann Roof: Charleston shooter won't offer evidence to spare life

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A white supremacist who killed nine black worshippers in a church in South Carolina will offer no evidence to spare his own life at a hearing.
Dylann Roof told a judge he plans on calling no witnesses when jurors decide next week decide whether he will face life in prison or the death penalty.
Roof, 22, was found guilty on 33 counts, including federal hate crimes, earlier this month.
His 2015 attack, carried out during a Bible study session, shocked the US.
Among his victims were pastors, recent graduates, librarians and coaches.
Roof later told police he wanted to start a race war with his attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, and he was photographed holding the Civil War battle flag, which to many is a symbol of hate.
He is acting as his own lawyer in the final stage of his trial, after dismissing his defence team.
But District Judge Richard Gergel advised Roof to talk to his grandfather, who is a lawyer, and other family members one last time befo…

A Look at the 6 Inmates on US Military Death Row

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A look at the six inmates on U.S. military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. 
A federal judge in Kansas lifted a stay of execution for one of the inmates. 
The U.S. military carried out its last execution when it hanged Army Pvt. John Bennett in 1961 for raping and trying to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. The death chamber has since been remodeled for lethal injections.
RONALD A. GRAY
Gray was convicted and ordered condemned in military court in 1988 for two murders and three rapes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area while he was stationed at Fort Bragg, where he reached the rank of specialist and was a cook. He pleaded guilty in civilian courts to two other killings and five rapes and was sentenced to eight life terms, including three to be served one after the other. A federal judge in Kansas last week lifted a stay of execution for Gray.
DWIGHT LOVING
Loving, formerly of Rochester, New York, was convicted of killing…