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Texas: Rodney Reed granted indefinite stay of execution

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Stay of execution came just hours after parole board unanimously recommended 120-day reprieve
The Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was granted a stay of execution on Friday, 5 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites two years earlier.
The court had previously rejected multiple appeals, but Reed’s lawyers argued that fresh evidence bolstered his claim of innocence. 
They said in a statement that they “are extremely relieved and thankful … this opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr Reed’s innocence”.
Millions of people, including a clutch of celebrities, have rallied behind Reed’s cause, helping to generate momentum and public attention as the execution date of 20 November loomed an…

Saudi Arabia executes three Pakistani nationals for heroin smuggling

Medieval and barbaric: Public beheading in Saudi Arabia
Medieval and barbaric: Public beheading in Saudi Arabia
Three Pakistani nationals were executed in Saudi Arabia on Sunday after being convicted of smuggling heroin into the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday executed three Pakistani nationals convicted of smuggling heroin, bringing the number of executions in the kingdom to 26 this year.

The state-run SPA news agency said the three had been found guilty of "smuggling quantities of heroin in their stomachs".

It named the three men as Mohammed Ashraf Shafi Mohammed, Mohammed Aref Mohammed Anayt and Mohammed Afdal Asghar Ali.

SPA reported 153 people being executed in the ultra-conservative kingdom last year, a number confirmed by London-based rights group Amnesty International.

Most executions in 2016, including that of high-profile Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, were carried out in a single day in January.

Nimr was behind a string of Shia protests in 2011 demanding reform in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

"It is a bloody day when the Saudi Arabian authorities execute 47 people, some of whom were clearly sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials," Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said at the time.

"Carrying out a death sentence when there are serious questions about the fairness of the trial is a monstrous and irreversible injustice," he added, urging Saudi authorities to "heed the growing chorus of international criticism and put an end to their execution spree".

Amnesty reported 158 death penalties in the country for 2015, the highest annual rate in the past two decades.

Saudi Arabia has a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

The kingdom is one of four countries – the others are North Korea, Somalia and Iran – which still carries out public executions.

Source: The New Arab, April 10, 2017

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