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2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

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With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

Prosecutor: Death penalty was ‘designed’ for cases like Florida school shooting

Nikolas Cruz
The 17 counts of premeditated murder against Nikolas Cruz are the type of case “the death penalty was designed for,” according to the Florida prosecutor in charge of trying the confessed school shooter.

But Michael Satz, the longtime Broward state attorney, said his office has not yet decided what punishment to seek against Cruz.

“Our office will announce our formal position at the appropriate time,” Satz said in a statement released Saturday morning.

On Friday, Cruz’s legal team said he would not contest guilt if prosecutors agreed not to ask for the death penalty.

“He committed this crime. Everybody saw it. Everybody knows it. He’s admitted it,” said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. “The crime is horrific and beyond words. This is going to come down to one issue — does he live, or does he die?”

The charges against Cruz, stemming from Wednesday’s deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, could result in a sentence of life in prison or execution. 

Cruz is known to have suffered from chronic depression, in addition to being diagnosed with autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, factors which may weigh into his defense strategy.

Satz’s full statement: “This event is absolutely horrific and tragic. Now is the time to let the families grieve and bury their children and loved ones. We are working this case with BSO, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for. This was a highly calculated and premeditated murder of 17 people and the attempted murder of everyone in that school. Our office will announce our formal position at the appropriate time.”

Source: The Miami Herald, Nicholas Nehamas, February, 2018


Florida school shooting: Trump links FBI's missteps to Russia investigation


Donald Trump and the Second Amendment
President Donald Trump has rebuked the FBI for missing signals before Wednesday's school shooting in Florida.

The agency was "spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign", Mr Trump tweeted.

"There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud."

The FBI has admitted it failed to act on a tip-off about suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, who has confessed to the shooting at a high school in Parkland in which 17 people died.

It was the deadliest US school shooting since 2012 and has re-ignited long-running debates about tougher firearm restrictions.

Earlier, students who survived the shooting rallied in Florida, demanding tighter legislation on gun control and criticising the president for receiving financial support from the National Rifle Association (NRA) during his presidential campaign.

In his tweet, he wrote: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable."

He appeared to link the agency's failures in the specific case to the time it has spent investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump team during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He has repeatedly denied any links with Moscow.

Earlier this week, 13 Russians were charged with interfering in the US election, in a major development in an FBI investigation now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Three Russian companies were also named in the indictment.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday dismissed the charges as "blather", saying he would not comment further until he saw "facts".

What mistakes did the FBI admit to?


It said it did not properly follow up on a tip-off about Mr Cruz last month when a person close to the suspect contacted the agency to provide "information about Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting".

Lockdown drillThe 5 January tip was not the only information the FBI received.

In September, a Mississippi man reported to the law enforcement agency a disturbing comment left on a YouTube video under Mr Cruz's name.

Mr Cruz, 19, was also reportedly investigated by local police and the Department of Children and Family Services in 2016 after posting evidence of self-harm on the Snapchat app, according to US media reports.

Child services said he had planned to buy a gun, but authorities determined he was already receiving adequate support, the reports say.


What is Mr Trump's stance on gun control?


In a tweet late on Saturday, the Republican president accused the Democrats of not acting on gun legislation "when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration.

"Because they didn't want to, and now they just talk!" he wrote, referring to criticism from Democrats following Wednesday's shooting.

The president's views on gun control have shifted over time. 

In recent years, he has pledged to fiercely defend the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects people's right to keep and bear arms.

Last year, he told an NRA convention he would "never, ever infringe" on that right. "The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end," he said.

Source: BBC News, February 18, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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