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Harrowing Realities Of Iran’s Torture Chambers

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Four decades of the clerical regime’s rule in Iran has left thousands of victims through widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment with impunity.
Torture has been institutionalized in the regime’s punishment laws and is sanctioned by the Judiciary as well as the regime officials.
Hadi Sadeghi, Deputy Chancellor of the Judiciary was quoted by the state-run ISNA news agency on May 30, 2018, as saying, “There is no precepts of imprisonment in Islam, so we need to seek alternative punishments. Physical punishment is much more effective than imprisonment, and the punishment of flogging is much more effective in Islam. But, the human rights agencies do not have a good idea on this matter.”
The state-run Fars news agency cited Judiciary spokesperson Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, on January 17, 2018 as stressing on cross amputation for offenders where their opposite hand and foot are amputated.
“Other punishments we have in mind for those who create insecurity in the society include ex…

Luck and the Death Penalty

Anatomy of Innocence
In 2002, the playwright Arthur Miller wrote the brief essay below to help the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern's law school in its campaign to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. In it, Miller described the case of Peter Reilly, a teenager who was convicted in 1974 of brutally killing his mother. The essay, previously unpublished, is featured in a new anthology, "Anatomy of Innocence," which features the testimony of several wrongfully convicted people - some of their stories written for the book by Lee Child, Sara Paretsky and other high-profile authors.

It is a small town so everybody knew the boy. He was approaching eighteen but he was slight, blond and soft-spoken so he was referred to as a boy. His mildness made it hard for many to believe that he had butchered his mother even after the State Police announced that he had made a confession. In fact, the longer his trial went on, the fewer the folks who felt convinced of his guilt.

Still, strange things do happen and he was convicted and was actually in a car on his way to the State Penitentiary when a group of residents raised enough money - some even mortgaging their homes - to lodge an appeal, and he was returned to the local jail. Basically a conservative community, many people there had rather unwillingly come to believe that the confession had somehow been forced out of him by the police.

At the hearing to decide whether to give him a new trial, things did not look good; the 2nd judge seemed a fair and sympathetic listener but the defense, now under a new lawyer, was required to produce new evidence, not easy to get hold of. But several days into the hearing the state's attorney who had gotten the boy convicted dropped dead on a golf course and a substitute prosecutor immediately took his place and began studying his papers on the case.

In the files the substitute discovered an affidavit from a witness who swore that he and his wife had seen the boy in another part of town at the very moment his mother was being attacked and killed. This affidavit had been withheld from evidence, never introduced into the original trial despite the witness being a policeman who had known the boy and had not the slightest doubt that he had recognized him. Introduced into the hearing the very next morning, the affidavit blew the state's case out of the water and the boy was freed.

If the state of Connecticut had had a death penalty, the boy may well have been executed. The boy's mother had been nearly eviscerated, savagely mauled, and feelings of disgust and anger were aroused. Indeed, it was only the adventitious death of the prosecutor that saved the boy from a long sentence in a penitentiary that would probably have destroyed him, gentle and mild as he was. Connecticut is not normally considered a benighted state but one with a very high income level, and a large proportion of educated people. Yet this travesty happened there.

Any honest supporter of the death penalty simply cannot avoid facing the high probability of mistaken verdicts, of which there are indeed many in this country. The nation's conscience forbids the state to kill innocent people. The death penalty makes the presumption that there are never going to be corrupt, ambitious, cowardly prosecutors and police who, afraid to admit they were wrong in arresting a suspect, go down to the end insisting on his guilt; that there are never honest mistakes in judgment, never any visual misidentifications, but that in each and every prosecution the guilty verdict is invariably deserved.

The boy, Peter Reilly, regained his freedom in Litchfield County because a prosecutor died at the propitious time and because his neighbors believed in him, and outsiders were moved to come to his aid. The life of the innocent cannot be allowed to depend on that much luck nor the states dishonored by pretensions of infallibility in absolutely every capital case that comes before its all but overwhelmed courts.

Source: New York Times, March 28, 2017

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