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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…

Saudi Arabia executes prisoner convicted of protest

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
The Saudi authorities have executed four men who were convicted in a secret ‘terrorism’ court – including at least one man who was convicted on charges relating to protests. It marks the first execution coming from the terrorism court since a mass execution in January 2016, in which several protesters convicted at the court were killed.

In an announcement today, the Saudi authorities claimed to have executed four ‘terrorists’ from the country’s Eastern Province. 

The executions appear to mark the first execution of prisoners tried at the controversial Specialized Criminal Court since a mass execution in January 2016, which attracted international condemnation.

The SCC is supposed to hear terrorism cases; however, it has also been used to sentence alleged protesters to death, including several juveniles.

International human rights organization Reprieve understands that at least one of the men executed today was sentenced to death on charges relating to protests. The man is understood to have been tortured into signing a ‘confession’, which was relied on to convict him at the SCC.

Yesterday, the Saudi authorities executed six people in one day. The Kingdom’s executions total for 2017 now stands at an estimated 54.

Commenting, Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “It’s appalling that Saudi Arabia has brazenly carried out a death sentence handed down on protest-related charges. The Saudi terrorism court is a deeply flawed, unjust body – it has sentenced juveniles and protesters to death, often on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted through torture. The Kingdom’s closest allies, such as the UK and the US, are fond of touting their joint counterterror work with the Saudis – they must now urgently tell Riyadh that these unlawful executions in the name of counter-terrorism must stop.”

Source: Reprieve, July 11, 2017


Saudi Arabia executes 4 Shiites for role in violent protests


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed four Shiites convicted on charges of terrorism for attacks against police and their role in violent protests.

The Interior Ministry said the four were executed for incidents that took place in the eastern region of Qatif, which is heavily populated by the kingdom’s minority Shiites. Qatif is also home to the town of al-Awamiya, where there has been a surge in violence since May between Shiite militants and security forces who are demolishing the town’s historic center.

In the list of offenses broadcast by the Interior Ministry, it did not appear that any of the four executed Tuesday had been found guilty of committing murder. Many of the offenses were related to their participation in protests. All were found guilty of disobeying the country’s ruler, a common charge leveled against dissidents.

The list of charges, however, also includes violent offenses such as opening fire on police, harboring fugitives, throwing firebombs at security forces during protests and being part of a terrorist cell aimed at undermining security.

Rights groups last month expressed concern that 14 Saudi Shiites face execution for protest-related crimes committed in 2011 and 2012. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said the rise in death sentences against minority Shiites in Saudi Arabia “is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’.”

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest rates of execution. In January 2016, the kingdom executed 47 prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offenses, including prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who had led protests in al-Awamiya against the government and its ultraconservative Sunni clerics. He had been charged with inciting violence against security forces and using his sermons to sow sedition — charges he denied and said were politically motivated.

The UK-based Reprieve, which advocates against the death penalty, said Tuesday’s executions appear to be the first of prisoners tried by Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism court since last year’s mass execution.

Source: The Associated Press, July 11, 2017

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