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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Spaniard sentenced to death by Thai court over killing of countryman

Artur Segarra
Artur Segarra
Artur Segarra found guilty of murdering and dismembering David Bernat in bid to access his savings

A Spanish national was on Friday given the death sentence after being found guilty by a Thai court of murdering fellow countryman David Bernat in Bangkok. 

The victim had traveled to the Asian country in January 2016 for a vacation. Hours after arriving, he met with Segarra to have drinks, and after midnight, the pair went to the condemned man's apartment. 
There he was held captive for 6 days, until he was killed and dismembered by Segarra, according to the police investigation into the case.

Segarra will have 2 chances to appeal the sentence, at the Thai Appeal Court and the country's Supreme Court. If the appeals process fails to overturn the death penalty, he can apply to the Royal Family for a pardon, which could see a lesser punishment applied.

According to the investigators assigned to the case, Segarra extorted his victim in order to gain access to the bank account Bernat held in Singapore and which contained his savings. 

The forensic police believe that he was killed around January 26. According to the investigation, that same night Segarra headed out on a motorcycle to the river that runs through Bangkok, carrying with him a large package, which the police believe contained the victim's body. He is thought to have returned in the early hours of the next morning without the object.

The authorities found the first remains of Bernat days later in the Chao Phraya river, and later recovered another 6 pieces of the body from the water. 

Segarra was identified as the main suspect on February 5, the night that he tried to flee to Cambodia after being recognized in a restaurant in Surin province.

The prosecutor in the trial called nearly 40 people to the stand, none of whom were direct witnesses to the crime, and also produced evidence including DNA samples and fingerprints collected in the apartment he had rented, as well as security camera recordings and bank records.

Thailand carried out its last executions in 2009: these involved 2 convicts who had been sentenced to death on drug-trafficking charges. Since then an indefinite stay has been placed on the application of the death penalty. The last execution in a murder case dates back to 2003, the year that the country switched from firing squad to lethal injection as its method for the death penalty.

According to data from Amnesty International, at the end of last year there were 427 prisoners on death row in Thailand, 24 of whom were foreigners. An Australian was sentenced to death on February 7 in a murder case, which bears similarity to that of Segarra given that the victim was dismembered and an attempt was made to dispose of the evidence.

Source: elpais.com, April 22, 2017

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