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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

India: Death penalty for Pandher, Koli in Pinki Sarkar case

Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli
Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli
Pandher and Koli were held guilty of kidnapping, rape and murder in the case, CBI spokesman R K Gaur said.

Describing the case as “rarest of rare”, CBI special judge Pawan Tiwari on Monday sentenced to death businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surinder Koli in one of the 2006 serial Nithari rape and murder cases.

The duo was on Saturday convicted in connection with the case concerning 20-year-old Pinki Sarkar by the special CBI court in Ghaziabad. Pandher, who was out on bail, was taken into custody after the conviction.

Three cases closed


Public Prosecutor J.P. Sharma said the court held Pandher and Koli guilty under Sections 302 (punishment for murder), 376 (punishment for rape), 364 (kidnapping or murder in order to murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Mr. Sharma said the duo had already been convicted and sentenced in six cases, while nine were in various stages of trial.

Pandher and Koli were charge-sheeted in 16 of 19 cases and three cases were closed for want of evidence.

Koli has already been sentenced to death in seven of 16 cases probed by the CBI.

Pandher’s lawyer Devraj Singh had said on Saturday his client would appeal against the conviction.

“Pandher was never named in the CBI charge sheet in the Pinki Sarkar case. The investigation had also proved that he had left for Dehradun on October 5, 2006, from his Noida office and returned on October 10. This in turn proved that he was not involved in this case,” Mr. Singh said.

According to the CBI charge sheet, Koli confessed to having lured Pinki, who was returning from work, into the house on October 5, 2006, killing and dismembering her, and dumping parts of her body in a drain.

The police had discovered skeletal remains of 19 victims, mostly girls, from Pandher’s house in Noida’s Nithari on December 29, 2006.

Koli had also confessed to having lured 20-year-old Payal Sarkar, killing and dismembering her, and throwing parts of her body in the drain, which were later identified by her parents.

Between 2009 and 2016, Koli was sentenced to death for the murders of Rimpa Haldar, Aarti, Rachna Lal, Deepali, Payal, Nanda Devi and Nisha.

Meanwhile, there was a sense of relief among the family members of the victims. Jhabbu Lal, whose daughter Jyoti was one of those killed, said: “The harshest punishment should be meted out to both Koli and Pandher.”

Source: The Hindu, July 24, 2017


Nithari killings: Koli, Pandher get death sentence for murder of Pinki Sarkar


A CBI court awarded the death sentence to Moninder Singh Pandher and his aide, Surinder Koli, on Monday in one of the 16 cases of the macabre Nithari serial killings in 2005 and 2006.

The duo was arrested on December 29, 2006, after the discovery of bones and skulls from the backyard of Pandher’s Sector 31 home in Noida’s Nithari. Police found the mortal remains during investigation when children and young women disappeared mysteriously in the area.

The Nithari horror, in which victims were raped, killed and the corpses cannibalized, sent shockwaves and stirred the collective conscience of the country.

The verdict of the CBI court in Ghaziabad is significant as Pandher was earlier let off by the Allahabad high court in 2009 as his cell phone location was traced to Australia when the killings happened. The defence had successfully argued that he was no way involved in the crime as he was abroad.

But this time, the CBI found that he was in Noida’s Sector 2 till about 1.30pm on October 5, 2006, and then left for Dehradun. That day Koli lured Pinky Sarkar, a 20-year-old domestic help, to Pandher’s home.

The charge sheet states that Pinky worked at a house in Sector 30, where she watched a serial on television from 1pm. She left afterwards and disappeared. Her clothes were found at Pandher’s backyard.

The location and time were crucial to nail Pandher as investigators said he was in Noida when Pinky vanished. He returned to Noida on October 14.

“Such culprits deserve hard punishment so that others think a thousand times before committing such crimes. Koli lured victims inside the house where he raped and attempted to rape before murdering them and later threw their body parts and ate some of them in a heinous manner,” CBI special judge Pawan Kumar Tiwari said, pronouncing the sentence.

He said Pandher was part of the conspiracy. “There is no scope for their reform or rehabilitation. This case falls under the category of rarest of rare and both deserve death penalty.”

Pandher’s lawyer argued that there was no evidence against the ailing man and he has spent eight years in jail already.

Koli, who is from Mangrukhal in Uttarakhand, made his closing arguments on Saturday.

“You give me any punishment as you feel like ... there is no evidence against me. The CBI has framed me. The court should be equal to both sides and I feel I have been denied justice,” Koli said.

“There is no eyewitness in the case and the victim’s family never made any allegations against me. The DNA test of the victim did not confirm I committed the rape.”

Of the 16 cases filed against the duo, eight were decided and the Ghaziabad court awarded death penalty to prime accused Koli in each of its verdicts.

They were handed copies of the judgment on Monday and sent to Dasna jail.

“The concept of blood for blood cannot be made applicable in society. Still, the work of the state is to strive for a decent society. This is possible only when such people, who have become dangerous for society, are punished with death,” special judge Tiwari said.

Pandher walked out of Dasna jail in September 2014 after getting bail in all cases. But Koli was never let off.

Families of the Nithari victims are not convinced with the verdict as the cases have dragged for years.

“No one is hanged even after 11 years. It is a relief that Koli is in jail. Pandher may get relief from higher courts,” said Karanveer, the father of young girl Madhu whose bones were found in Pandher’s backyard.

“The Nithari families have lost faith after years of legal battle ... no one is hanged till date.”

Pinky’s family searched the whole area the day she disappeared.

“We could find only her clothes and slippers. We left Nithari after she was presumed dead, as we had to pass Pandher’s house on the way to work. I couldn’t bear the sight of it. Every time I passed the house tears streamed down my eyes. We waited 11 years for them to be hanged,” said mother Bandana Sarkar.

Source: Hindustan Times, July 24, 2017

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