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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Veloso's lawyer on CA decision: Ironic, disappointing

Mary Jane Veloso
MANILA, Philippines — A lawyer of convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso on Friday said that a Philippine court baring its citizen's story on illegal recruitment to be heard in court is "disappointing and ironic."

"Her testimony is being prevented by our own courts, the Court of Appeals in particular, upon the behest of the accused illegal recruiters' defense team, which is both disappointing and ironic," lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People's Lawyers said in a text message to reporters.

In a decision dated Dec. 13, 2017, the CA reversed the decision of a Nueva Ecija court that allowed the Philippine Consulate in Indonesia to take Veloso's testimony through deposition.

Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes, who handles the illegal recruitment and illegal human trafficking case against Veloso's recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, will also be present to observe the deposition.

"After all, what we just ask is for her to tell her story in full and with guarantees of due process intact." - Edre Olalia

Veloso's case is still up for a motion for reconsideration. Should the CA junk the motion, her lawyers can elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

Olalia said that Veloso's lawyers are "in coordination with the public prosecutors and indirectly with the [Office of the Solicitor General] so our plea for a reconsideration will be given a fair shake."

Sergio and Lacanilao are represented by the Public Attorney's Office, while lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People's Lawyers represents Veloso. He is also a private prosecutor in the case against the alleged illegal recruiters.

Olalia lamented: "After all, what we just ask is for her to tell her story in full and with guarantees of due process intact and in accordance with the weight and appreciation of evidence, sans dilatory or complicated technicalities."

The local court of Nueva Ecija in February last year allowed the taking of Veloso's testimony through deposition. But the recruiters, through PAO, raised to the CA that the move is violative of their rights as accused.

The CA's former eleventh division in its December decision sided with the petitioners, granting their petition for certiorari and prohibition.

The court held: "[T]he circumstances in this case call for the application of Rule 119, which categorically states that the conditional examination of a prosecution witness shall be made before the court where the case is pending in light of the constitutionally enshrined right of the petitioners to meet the witnesses face to face or the right of confrontation and cross-examination."

"Verily, the first and fundamental duty of the Court is to apply the law," the court stressed.

Veloso, a mother of two, claims that she was duped into carrying a suitcase lined with heroin into Indonesia. She was sentenced to death by the government of Indonesia.

Following an appeal from President Benigno Aquino III and surrender of her alleged recruiters in the Philippines, she was granted a last-minute reprieve before her scheduled execution on April 29, 2015.

She has since been detained at Wirongunan Penitentiary in Indonesia.

Source: philstar.com, January 5, 2018


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