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Showing posts from April, 2018

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Texas: Rodney Reed granted indefinite stay of execution

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Stay of execution came just hours after parole board unanimously recommended 120-day reprieve
The Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed was granted a stay of execution on Friday, 5 days before he was scheduled to be put to death for a murder he insists he did not commit.
The Texas court of criminal appeals blocked the execution indefinitely and sent the case back to the trial court in Bastrop county, where Reed was sentenced in 1998 for the murder of Stacey Stites two years earlier.
The court had previously rejected multiple appeals, but Reed’s lawyers argued that fresh evidence bolstered his claim of innocence. 
They said in a statement that they “are extremely relieved and thankful … this opportunity will allow for proper consideration of the powerful and mounting new evidence of Mr Reed’s innocence”.
Millions of people, including a clutch of celebrities, have rallied behind Reed’s cause, helping to generate momentum and public attention as the execution date of 20 November loomed an…

Death penalty should remain relic in New Mexico

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The late Thomas Ferguson received plenty of attention in high places he would never have considered visiting.
He could not have known how often legislators at the state Capitol debated changing various criminal statutes because of him.
Ferguson was a defendant in the torture and killing of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia in Santa Fe County.
Detectives believe Ferguson was so sadistic that he held Jeremiah in a plastic dog kennel. Trapped in a hell on earth, the boy wore adult diapers as part of the humiliation that went along with beatings. An autopsy revealed that Jeremiah was in a diaper when investigators found his body in a makeshift grave.
Jeremiah became a symbol of failings in the state’s corrections and child-welfare systems. And ex-con Ferguson provided fresh momentum for an initiative by Republican legislators who wanted to reinstate death sentences.
New Mexico lawmakers voted to repeal the death penalty in 2009, and then-Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, signed the bill into…

India: Death penalty for man for 6-year-old girl's rape, murder

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The 35-year-old man had raped and killed the girl on April 21 last year and kept her body hidden in his house.
A 35-year-old man has been sentenced to death by a city court for the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl here last year.
54th City Civil and Sessions Judge M Lathakumrai held Anil Balagar guilty of rape and murder and sentenced him to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and death respectively for the crimes.
In her order yesterday, the judge also directed the Karnataka government to pay Rs 2 lakh to the victim's parents.
According to the prosecution, Balagar had raped and killed the girl on April 21 last year and kept her body hidden in his house.
The girl was reported missing since April 20 and on the basis of a complaint from her grandfather, the local police had registered a case.
The girl had come to her grandfather's house. Balagar, a neighbour of the victim's grandfather, lured the girl and took her to his house, where he raped and killed her, the prosecut…

Iraq: 19 Russian women handed life sentences for joining ISIS

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Women are among 560 arrested for 'joining and supporting' the armed group that was defeated last December.
A court in Baghdad sentenced 19 Russian women to life in prison for joining Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in the country.
A Central Criminal Court ruling determined on Sunday the Russian women were guilty of "joining and supporting" ISIL, AFP news agency reported.
The women, many accompanied by their children, addressed the court through a translator - a Russian -language professor at Baghdad University hired by the Russian embassy.
A Russian diplomat at the hearing said the families of the women will be contacted and "informed of the verdict".
Another six women from Azerbaijan and four from Tajikistan were also given life sentences.
Most of the women on trial claimed to have been misled into making the trip to Iraq.
"I did not know we were in Iraq … I went with my husband and my children to Turkey to live there and then I s…

Egypt: Final Verdict to Execute Six Defendants for Storming Police Station

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Egypt's Court of Cassation upheld on Saturday death penalty for six loyalists of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group over attacking a police station in the southern province of Minya in 2013.
According to the court, the convicts stormed a police station in Minya's Matay town, stole the weapons inside, killed a senior policeman, attempted to murder others, allowed detainees to escape and finally set fire to the police station.
It also reduced the execution verdicts against three defendants to 25-year imprisonment, upheld the 25-year jail for 59 defendants and acquitted 47 others.
The rulings are final and unappealable as they have been issued in response to a previous appeal by the defendants against the initial rulings of a criminal court.
Being supporters of ousted former President Mohamed Morsi, the convicts committed the acts of violence following the massive security dispersal of two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and nearby Giza in August 2013 that left hundreds dead…

Iran: Prisoner Hanged at Bandar Abbas Prison

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A prisoner was hanged at the southern city of Bandar Abbas Central Prison on murder charges.
According to a close source, on the morning of Tuesday, April 24, a prisoner was executed at Bandar Abbas Central Prison. 
The prisoner, identified as Mohammad Jafar Shirzad, 41 from Khorramabad, was sentenced to death on murder charges. 
A close source told Iran Human Rights, "Mohammad Jafar Shirzad committed murder at his workplace in February 2015, and he failed to win the consent of the plaintiffs."
The execution of this prisoner has not been announced by the state-run media so far.
According to Iran Human Rights annual report on the death penalty, 240 of the 517 execution sentences in 2017 were implemented due to murder charges.  
There is a lack of a classification of murder by degree in Iran which results in issuing a death sentence for any kind of murder regardless of intensity and intent.
According to statistical department of Iran Human Rights (IHR), at least 19 prisoners w…

Saudi Arabia: Executions for Drug Crimes

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Crown Prince Signals Possible Limit on Non-Murder Executions
Saudi Arabia has executed 48 people since the beginning of 2018, 1/2 of them for nonviolent drug crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Many more people convicted of drug crimes remain on death row following convictions by Saudi Arabia's notoriously unfair criminal justice system.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said in an interview with Time magazine on April 5, that the Saudi authorities have a plan to decrease the number of executions, but that they would not limit executions to people convicted of murder. Nearly all executions in Saudi Arabia that are not for murder are for non-violent drug crimes. The prince said the country would consider changing the penalty from death to life in prison in some cases, but not in murder cases.
It's bad enough that Saudi Arabia executes so many people, but many of them have not committed a violent crime," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.…

UK: Conservatives suspend candidate who called for gay people to face the death penalty

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Just a week before the local elections, the Conservatives have been forced to suspend a candidate over homophobic blog posts that called for gay people to face the death penalty.
Matthew Clarke is the Conservative candidate for the Lib Dem-held Manor ward seat on Stevenage Council in the local elections set to take place on May 3.
But Clarke, who has run as a local Conservative candidate on at least 2 previous occasions, was suspended by the party this week after it was revealed he had penned blog posts calling for gay people to face the death penalty.
The candidate, who has described himself as a "fundamentalist Christian," made the remarks in a 2005 blog post exposed this week by Labour activist Jo Phillips.
Published under the name Matthew Celestine, he wrote: "When such behaviour is tolerated in a land it can only expect to see God's judgment."
He added: "In my experience, most people believe that such behaviour is wrong and disgusting. They would be …

The latest California death row exoneration shows why we need to end the death penalty

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A Kern County Superior Court judge last week ordered that a 68-year-old former farmworker, Vicente Benavides Figueroa, be released from San Quentin's death row after the local district attorney declared she would not retry him. 
Benavides had been in prison for more than 25 years after being convicted of raping, sodomizing and murdering his girlfriend's 21-month-old daughter. 
Benavides was freed after all but one of the medical experts who testified against him recanted their conclusions that the girl had, in effect, been raped to death - conclusions they had reached after reviewing incomplete medical records. 
In fact, the first nurses and doctors who examined the semiconscious and battered girl in 1991 observed no injuries suggesting she had been raped or sodomized, but those details were not passed along to the medical expert witnesses who testified in court. 
Injuries later observed at 2 other hospitals were likely caused by that 1st effort to save her life, wh…

How Sister Helen Prejean became a leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty

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Sister Helen Prejean is a leading advocate for abolition of the death penalty. She's written 2 books on the topic, and 1 of them, "Dead Man Walking," became an Oscar-winning film. She's been nominated 3 times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her new memoir, "River of Fire," will be published by Random House, probably in January.
You grew up in Baton Rouge. What brought you to New Orleans?
I joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1957, so I was 18. I've been in New Orleans ever since. Part of that was going to college at St. Mary's Dominican.
Did you know much about the city when you arrived?
Oh, yes. We would come on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It was a holiday, and that's when we'd go shopping in New Orleans. It was a big deal. We would "motor" to New Orleans with mama and go to D.H. Holmes and Maison Blanche to do shopping.
In high school, we took a bus trip for Mardi Gras one year. ... The convent was kind of limited because w…