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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Gaddafi's son Saif 'freed' in Libya

Saif al-Islam
Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli in 2015

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, second son of the late deposed Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, is said to have been freed under an amnesty, in a move which could fuel further instability.

His father's preferred successor, he had been held by a militia in the town of Zintan for the past six years.

The Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion said he had been released on Friday but he has not been shown in public.

Local reports suggest he is now in the eastern city of Bayda with relatives.

His lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, also said he had been released but would not say which city Saif al-Islam had travelled to for security reasons.

The Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion said it was acting on a request from the "interim government".

That government - based in the east of the country - had already offered amnesty to Saif al-Islam.

However, he has been sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Tripoli, the west of the country, where control is in the hands of the rival, UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Previous reports of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's release proved to be false.

He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity during his father's unsuccessful attempts to put down the rebellion.

If confirmed, the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi would add another unpredictable element to Libya's unstable mix.

He was detained in the desert in November 2011 trying to flee to Niger, and later appeared missing several fingers.

The former playboy often appeared in the West as the public face of the Gaddafi regime and was his father's heir-apparent.

While reviled by many - at home and abroad - he retains some support in Libya and could try to re-enter the political fray here.

The 44-year-old Saif al-Islam - who was controversially granted a PhD by the London School of Economics in 2008 - was captured in November 2011 after three months on the run following the end of Muammar Gaddafi's decades-long rule.

Source: BBC News, June 11, 2017

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