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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…

Turkey puts hundreds on trial over failed coup; Erdogan supporters chant: "We want the death penalty!"

President Erdogan supporters: "We want the death penalty"
President Erdogan supporters: "We want the death penalty"
Turkey has put nearly 500 people — including generals and pilots — on trial on charges of leading last year's failed coup, parading dozens of the men into a courthouse publicly as protesters threw stones and shouted "murderers!"

The trial is part of a post-coup crackdown that has imprisoned 50,000 people and seen another 110,000 fired from their government jobs.

Many of the suspects at Tuesday's trial face life in prison for crimes including murder and attempting to overthrow the Government.

The main defendant in the case is being tried in absentia, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish Government blames for the deadly July 15, 2016 coup. He has denied involvement.

The other defendants include generals and fighter jet pilots at the Akinci air base, on the outskirts of Ankara, the capital, who are accused of directing the coup and bombing key government buildings, including the parliament.

The trial, which is expected to last at least a month, is one of dozens underway in Turkey in relation to the coup attempt that resulted in 249 deaths — some 30 coup-plotters were also killed.

The Government says the coup-plotters used Akinci air base as their headquarters. Turkey's military chief General Hulusi Akar and other commanders were held captive for several hours at the base on the night of the coup.

On Tuesday, a group of 41 defendants were made to march from their jail to a courthouse that was especially built at a prison complex to try the coup plotters.

They were handcuffed, with two paramilitary police officers on each arm, and protected by armed special force officers.

'Let the traitors hang! We want the death penalty!'


About 300 people — including some families of those killed or wounded during the coup attempt and ruling party supporters — staged a protest on Tuesday at the site.

Some threw ropes toward the defendants, demanding that the government reinstate the death penalty and that those convicted be hanged. Others threw stones or tried to break through police lines to reach the suspects, shouting "murderers!"

One group of protesters tried to climb over a barbed wire fence screaming "Let the traitors hang!" and "We want the death penalty!" but were blocked by police. A total of 1,300 security personnel were deployed inside and outside the courtroom.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and General Akar, the military chief, submitted petitions requesting to be named as plaintiffs in the case, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

A total of 461 defendants are behind bars while 18 were freed pending the outcome of the trial. Seven others, including Gulen and an alleged top operative in his movement, are still wanted by the Turkish authorities and are being tried in absentia.

Source: abc.net.au, AP, August 1, 2017

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