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Tennessee execution: Billy Ray Irick tortured to death, expert says in new filing

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Editor's note: Reporter Dave Boucher was one of seven state-required media witnesses at Irick's execution. 
Billy Ray Irick felt searing pain akin to torture before he died in a Tennessee prison in August, but steps taken in carrying out his execution blocked signs of suffering, according to a doctor who reviewed information about the lethal injection.
In new court filings entered late Thursday amidst an ongoing legal challenge of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol, Dr. David Lubarsky said statements from people who witnessed the execution indicated the controversial drug midazolam failed to ensure Irick could not feel pain during his death.
As a result, the death row inmate “experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride,” Lubarsky wrote in the filing.
The document also says the state did not follow its own lethal injection protocol, raising questio…

Pakistani court frees Islamic preacher sentenced to death for blasphemy

"Laws used to settle personal scores or grudges"
"Laws used to settle personal scores or grudges"
ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court freed an Islamic preacher who was sentenced to death four years ago on charges of blasphemy, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

Chaudhry Mehmood Akhtar said that a judge in the city of Rawalpindi acquitted Mohammad Ishaq on Friday after finding him "completely innocent" of insulting Islam.

Ishaq was custodian at a shrine in Punjab province when he was arrested and sentenced to death in 2013 after a citizen accused him of claiming in conversation to actually be God.

"My client is a practicing Muslim and he was a victim of false charges. Now I am doing the paperwork to get him out of a jail," Akhtar told The Associated Press.

Under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting God, Islam or religious personalities can be sentenced to death. 

However the laws are also sometimes used to settle personal scores or grudges.

Human rights groups have called for amending Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, which are often misused against the country's minority Christian community. 

In 2015, a Muslim mob beat a Christian couple to death and burned their bodies for allegedly desecrating the Quran.

Source: The Associated Press, February 28, 2017

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