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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Pakistan hangs 2 'hard core' militants convicted by military courts

Pakistan has hanged 2 "hard core" Taliban terrorists convicted of terrorism-related offenses by controversial military courts which were revived after 2 years ignoring opposition from rights groups. 

The executions were carried out at a high-security prison in Punjab province Tuesday, the army said in a late-night statement. It said the 2 "hard core terrorists" were involved in committing "heinous offences relating to terrorism, including killing of civilians, attacking Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, polio vaccination team and employees of a NGO."

The army did not elaborate where the trials were held and when the initial punishment was announced. 

The 2 convicts were identified as Muhammad Shahid Omar and Fazl e Haq - both active members of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Military courts were restored last month for another 2 years after their initial 2-year term expired in January.

The courts were set up after a constitutional amendment after a terror attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014 killed more than 150 people, most of them students. 

While Pakistani authorities maintain the military courts are an "effective deterrent" against terrorism, rights groups question transparency of the trials because of the secrecy surrounding the special tribunals.

The military courts have handed down the death penalty to more than 160 militants and yesterday's hangings took the number of those executed so far to 23.

Also, the executions came on a day when Amnesty International in a worldwide report said Pakistan reduced the number of executions by 73 % in 2016 compared to the year before.

Source: The Times, April 13, 2017

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