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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Japan hangs 2 inmates; first executions since July

Gallows at Tokyo Detention Center, Japan
TOKYO - Japan hanged two death-row inmates Tuesday morning, including a 44-year-old man who killed four people when he was a minor, the Justice Ministry said.

Teruhiko Seki became the second inmate to be hanged for a crime committed as a minor in the first such execution in 20 years, after Norio Nagayama, who killed four people when he was 19, was executed in 1997.

Seki was 19 when he killed a 42-year-old corporate executive, his wife, 36, their 4-year-old daughter and the executive's 83-year-old mother, while injuring the only survivor, a daughter who was 15, in 1992. He also stole 340,000 yen from their house in Chiba Prefecture.

The other executed inmate Kiyoshi Matsui, a 69-year-old former plumber, killed his girlfriend and her parents in Gunma Prefecture in 1994.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa ordered the executions, the first since July.

Both Seki and Matsui had submitted requests for retrials, according to the ministry.

"These crimes were very heinous and utterly deplorable for the victims and their families. The death penalties were finalized following adequate trials in the courts. I gave orders to execute them after careful consideration," said Kamikawa in a press conference.

Japan's capital punishment policy has drawn international criticism, while the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for it to be abolished by 2020, demanding lifetime imprisonment instead.

Nagayama's case created the so-called Nagayama standards, which take into account factors such as the number of victims, brutality and social impact of the crimes. The standards have been used in determining whether to apply the death sentence in murder cases.

"A minor is less able to judge things than adults and easily affected by family and social circumstances. It is not appropriate to put responsibilities on individual minors and they should not be executed," said Yuji Ogawara of the bar association in charge of abolition of the death penalty.

Debate on abolishing the death penalty remains sluggish in Japan, though most developed countries have already done away with it.

The bar association adopted a proposal stating for the first time that it will work to abolish capital punishment at a meeting in October 2016, but met strong opposition from lawyers who support victims of murder cases.

More than 100 lawyers across the country this year sent an open letter to the chairman of the association, insisting the adopted proposal would cause confusion among lawyer members as there are arguments both for and against it.

Hidemichi Morosawa, a former principal of Tokiwa University, said it is "not appropriate" to avoid the death penalty based on "an unscientific reason that young people can restore their lives." Capital punishment is inevitable, considering victims' feelings and the effects of the crimes on society, he said.

Kamikawa has been reluctant to change the policy. She said in a press conference on her inauguration as justice minister in August, "I would like to carefully and strictly deal (with executions) in line with laws and with respect for judgments of the courts."

She ordered the execution of one inmate when she filled the position of justice minister for about a year from October 2014.

In July this year, Kamikawa's predecessor Katsutoshi Kaneda gave orders to hang two male inmates.

Kyodo News had previously withheld the name of Teruhiko Seki as he was a minor when the crimes were committed but named him after his execution.

Source: Japan Today, December 19, 2017


Japan executes 2, including man who killed when he was a minor


Gallows trapdoor, Tokyo Detention Center
Two convicted murderers, including one who killed four people when he was a minor, were executed on Dec. 19, according to the Justice Ministry.

Capital punishment was carried out for Teruhiko Seki, 44, who murdered four family members in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture in 1992 when he was 19 years old, and Kiyoshi Matsui, 69, who murdered his girlfriend and her parents in Annaka, Gunma Prefecture in 1994.

The death sentences for Seki and Matsui had been finalized, but both were still seeking retrials.

“The two cases were extremely cruel because the convicts took away precious lives for self-centered reasons,” Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters on Dec. 19. “With careful consideration, I ordered the executions.”

Seki is the first inmate on death row for a crime committed as a minor to be executed since Norio Nagayama was hanged in August 1997.

The executions on Dec. 19 were the first since July, when Katsutoshi Kaneda was justice minister.

Kamikawa has now signed the papers for three executions, including one in June 2015 when she held the Cabinet post for the first time.

Since December 2012, when Shinzo Abe started his second stint as prime minister, 21 inmates have been put to death.

According to the finalized ruling, Seki in March 1992 entered the house of a company executive in Ichikawa for the purpose of robbery. He used a knife and other methods to murder the executive, his mother, wife and second daughter. The eldest daughter was stabbed and injured in the attack.

During his trial, Seki’s attorney cited Seki’s age and the spirit of rehabilitation under the Juvenile Law to argue against imposing the death sentence.

However, the Chiba District Court sentenced Seki to death, saying that capital punishment was acceptable and inevitable considering the gravity of his crime.

The Tokyo High Court and the Supreme Court both upheld Seki’s death sentence.

Matsui was convicted of murder and attempted murder for killing his girlfriend and her parents with a hammer in February 1994.

In September 1999, the Supreme Court rejected his final appeal and finalized the death sentence.

Both Seki and Matsui had applied for retrials.

The Justice Ministry had refrained from executing inmates seeking retrial. But in July, Kaneda ordered the first execution of a retrial-seeking inmate since December 1999.

According to the ministry, there are now 122 inmates on death row in Japan.

Citizens groups and others demanding the abolition of capital punishment said five of those death-row inmates committed their crimes when they were minors.

Three were involved in a murder spree in Osaka, Aichi and other prefectures in 1994.

Another condemned inmate killed a woman and her baby in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in 1999.

The other one was convicted of murdering two women and a man in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture in 2010.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun, R. Komatsu, December 19, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
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