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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Fifteen Saudi Shia sentenced to death for 'spying for Iran'

Shia Muslims face a heavy crackdown by Saudi authorities
Shia Muslims face a heavy crackdown by Saudi authorities.
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced 15 people to death for spying for Iran.

They were among 32 people - comprising 30 members of the kingdom's Shia Muslim minority, an Iranian national and an Afghan - put on trial in February.

Prosecutors accused them of treason, setting up a spy ring in collaboration with Iranian intelligence, and passing about sensitive data on military zones.

Tensions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia-led Iran have escalated in the past year.

Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in January following the storming of its embassy in Tehran by protesters angered by the execution of the prominent Saudi Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and three other Shia.

Saudi officials insisted Nimr was guilty of terrorism offences, but Iran's supreme leader said he had been executed solely for his criticism of the Sunni monarchy.

The regional powers also back opposing sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

The 32 defendants tried at the Specialised Criminal Court in the capital Riyadh in February are believed to have been detained in 2013.

At the start of the trial, it was reported that they included several well-known figures in the Shia community who were not involved in politics, including an elderly university professor, a paediatrician, a banker and two clerics.

But a correspondent from Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV said on Tuesday that most of the defendants were members of the Saudi military.

Most were from Eastern Province, home to the majority of Saudi Arabia's Shia.

Several of the defendants were given prison sentences and two were found not guilty, al-Arabiya reported.

Shia make up 10 to 15% of the kingdom's 28 million population, and many assert that they suffer systematic discrimination in public education, the justice system, government employment and religious freedom.

Dissent is rarely tolerated, and between 2011 and 2013 more than 20 people were shot dead by security forces and hundreds more detained during protests by Shia calling for an end to discrimination.

Shootings and petrol bomb attacks also killed several police officers.

Source: BBC News, December 6, 2016

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