Texas: Gov. Abbott should grant death row inmate Rodney Reed a reprieve, before it’s too late

Convicted murderer Rodney Reed is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Nov. 20, but Gov. Greg Abbott has the power to stop it.
As it stands, there’s no indication that Abbott will. He has only stopped one execution since becoming governor 5 years ago.
Reed was sentenced to death in 1998, after being convicted of the brutal 1996 rape and killing of a 19-year-old woman from central Texas, Stacey Stites. And though the governor has yet to weigh in on this specific case, he supports capital punishment, as do most voters in the state. According to a June 2018 poll from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune, fully three-fourths of Texans strongly or somewhat support the death penalty.
But the question at hand has nothing to do with the death penalty, per se. Granting a reprieve would simply be the right thing to do — and a necessary precaution against the doubts that would linger, if Reed is executed as scheduled.
Reed has consistently maintained his innocence, and legitimate questions …

Bangladesh upholds death sentence for 139 soldiers over massacre

Bangladesh army
A Bangladesh court upheld the death penalty for 139 soldiers on Monday over their role in a "brutal and barbaric" mutiny in which dozens of top army officers were massacred.

In delivering his verdict Justice Md Abu Zafor Siddique described the 2009 slaughter of 74 people -- including 57 top brass -- as an unprecedented atrocity in Bangladesh's relatively short history.

"It was the most heinous, brutal and barbaric carnage of our history," he told the Dhaka courtroom of the two-day massacre in which victims were shot, hacked to death and burned alive by marauding troops.

The sentences will be appealed again in the Supreme Court, which by law has the final say in all capital punishment cases.

In 2013 a court sentenced 152 soldiers to death for the grisly killings in a mass trial criticised by the United Nations rights chief as failing to meet basic standards of due process.

One of those handed the death penalty died in custody, eight others had sentences commuted to life imprisonment and four were acquitted.

Thousands were rounded up and tried in special military courts in the aftermath of the massacre, as the newly-elected government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrestled to regain control in a country prone to military coups.

Hundreds were singled out for trial in civilian courts and handed punishments ranging from death to a few years.

The high court in Dhaka on Monday upheld sentences of mixed severity to more than 380 accused, including 185 life sentences, prosecutor Jahid Sarwar Kazal told AFP.

"Forty-five people were acquitted," he added.

The mutineers stole thousands of weapons in February 2009 from the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) paramilitary squad before embarking on a killing spree in the barracks.

The home of the BDR chief was also stormed and his wife, guests and staff slaughtered before the building was razed.

The remains of those butchered in the carnage were dumped in sewers or shallow graves.

"Nowhere in the world did anything happen like the way those 57 top army officers were killed," Bangladesh Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters outside the courthouse.

The uprising quickly spread to other military bases, with thousands of soldiers seizing weapons and pledging allegiance to the mutineers in Dhaka before it was quashed by the army.

An official investigation into the mutiny blamed years of pent-up anger among ordinary soldiers, who felt their appeals for pay rises and better treatment were ignored.

Rights groups criticised the scale of the punishments meted out en masse, claiming the trials were "an affront to international legal standards".

Bangladesh defended the death sentences, insisting those convicted would have a chance to appeal and denying claims that confessions were extracted through torture.

Source: Agence France-Presse, November 27, 2017

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