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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Amnesty International Calls For Urgent Halt To Execution Of Mohammad Salas

Mohammad Salas
Amnesty International calls for urgent halt to the imminent execution of Mohammad Salas, a member of Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish community.

In its statement issued on June 17, 2018, Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to to immediately quash the death sentence of Mohammad Salas.

Amnesty International said, it has received information that indicates a huge miscarriage of justice may be carried out if the Iranian authorities go through with this execution.

“We call on the authorities to immediately quash the death sentence of Mohammad Salas and to order a retrial that meets international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at ‎Amnesty International.

Amnesty International announced in its statement, “Prison authorities phoned Mohammad Salas’ family on the evening of 16 June and told them to go to Raja’i Shahr prison where he is imprisoned in Karaj, near Tehran, to visit him for the final time at 3.30pm local time on 17 June. This indicates that his execution is imminent, and could happen within days if not hours.”

“Following a grossly unfair trial, Mohammad Salas was sentenced to death on 19 March 2018 after the judge found him guilty of the murder of three police officers that took place during a protest by the Gonabadi Dervish religious group, a persecuted minority in Iran.

The sole piece of evidence used to convict him was a “confession” that Mohammad Salas has said was forcefully elicited after he was severely beaten by police officers. He has since retracted his “confession” and his lawyer has said there is new evidence pointing to his innocence; however, the Supreme Court has rejected his request for a judicial review.

The protests in question, which took place on 19 February 2018, turned violent after security forces resorted to beatings and the use of live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Three police officers, Reza Emami, Mohammad Ali Bayrami and Reza Moradi Alamdar, were left dead after they were run over by a bus in the early evening around 6.30pm. According to Mohammad Salas and several eye witnesses, he was arrested between 2.30pm and 4.30pm and accused of their murder,” Amnesty International said in its statement.

“In their haste to do justice, the authorities have trampled all over this man’s rights. By not allowing Mohammad Salas access to a lawyer before and during his trial and dismissing key defence witnesses who can testify that he was already in detention when the three policemen were killed, it appears that the authorities have been more interested in vengeance at any cost than in justice,” said Philip Luther.

“This case has laid bare the flaws in Iran’s criminal justice system for all to see. We call on the international community to do everything in their power to stop the execution of Mohammad Salas.

“If the Iranian authorities follow through with this execution after a grossly unfair trial where the only piece of evidence was a forced ‘confession’ extracted through torture, it will be a truly abhorrent act of injustice.”

Source: iran-hrm.com, June 17, 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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