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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Indonesia: Bali Nine member Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen has died after a battle with cancer

Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen
One of Australia's Bali Nine drug traffickers has died after 13 years behind bars, sources said. 

Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, one of the seven remaining jailed members of the drug smuggling ring, was serving a life sentence in an Indonesian prison.

Daily Mail Australia understands the 34-year-old from Brisbane died in recent weeks following a battle with terminal cancer.

The son of Vietnamese migrant bakers, Nguyen had been serving time at Malang prison, in East Java, where he shared a cell with mule drug Martin Stephens.

He was rushed to hospital in mid-2017 following an episode where a fellow prisoner had to carry him to a medical bay.

Supporters of the Australian prisoners, including pastor Rob Buckingham, knew Nguyen had been ill for some time. 

Nguyen and two others - traffickers Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen - were arrested at the Melasti Hotel in Kuta on April 17, 2005. 

They had been planning to transport heroin to Australia. 

In a message to supporters from prison three years ago, Nguyen wrote: 'Am I guilty? Yes. 

'Am I sorry? More than anyone will ever know.' 

In a previous interview with Daily Mail Australia, Nguyen said: 'No one wishes death. 

'I have a life sentence, that means life in Indonesia.  

'That's death by a different means'.  

Nguyen said his family visited when they could, but the years-long Indonesian ordeal had been hard on them financially. 

Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen
The family spent their savings on Tan's legal costs, he claimed, and the shame and stress he caused his family were one of his biggest regrets.

'I live with that regret every single morning when I wake and every night in my noisy bare jail cell as I try to sleep,' he said.

'I tell you now, there isn’t any code of honour among drug dealers and in the end it will destroy you and everyone around you.

Two members of the Bali Nine, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, were executed by firing squad in April 2015. 

The other seven members were sentenced to jail terms.

In 2006, Nguyen's sentence was upgraded to death on appeal. But a further appeal restored his original life sentence. 

Fellow smuggler Renae Lawrence expects that she could be released from prison this year.

After questions about Mr Nguyen's death, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokeswoman confirmed an Australian man had died from terminal illness in Indonesia.  

'(The department) has been providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian man who died of a terminal illness in Indonesia,' the DFAT spokeswoman said. 

Consular assistance may include support and guidance to families and liaison with authorities to assist with funeral arrangements or repatriation of remains. Mr Nguyen's fiance declined to comment.

Source: Mail Online, Daniel Piotrowski, Joshua Hanrahan, June 5, 2018


Diary entries of Bali Nine heroin smuggler after brutal executions


Matthew Norman (left) and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen in February 2006
The Bali Nine heroin smuggler who died of stomach cancer after 13 years behind bars wrote powerful diary entries warning others not to 'waste their life'.

Daily Mail Australia exclusively revealed Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, 34, was the third member of the notorious trafficking ring to die while serving jail time.

Nguyen died in a Jakarta hospital on May 19 following a cancer fight, said Ade Kusmanto, a spokesman for Indonesia's Directorate General of Corrections.

The son of Vietnamese migrants from Brisbane, Nguyen was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the infamous plot to smuggle drugs into Australia.

An inmate who served time with Nguyen at Malang Prison, in East Java, said he was first hospitalised following an incident in 2017.

'He was sick a lot longer before then, it's just taking him a long time to get to the hospital because (he) wouldn't go,' the inmate said. 

Nguyen died at 7.10am on a Saturday almost three weeks ago, and his body was shipped home to Queensland on May 22, authorities said. 

Blog posts uncovered on Wednesday revealed Nguyen started writing a diary following the executions of plot ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

Nguyen's diary entries featured poetry and his daily thoughts. The prisoner said he started writing 'to help get over what had happened recently' - the killings. 

One poem, written about his future self, imagined sharing his life lessons with university students.   

'There I am, giving a speech, to a group of younger people ... telling them my mistakes, telling them my story.

'Making them know the reasons why, revealing my experiences, sharing and opening to them, about the dangers.

'Not to follow the same mistakes as me, to not end up in jail, to not waste their life ... 

'That is my duty, that is my goal, that is what I will work forward to.' 

In other posts, he reflected upon his love for his family, the deaths of Chan and Sukumaran and the lessons learned from prison.

'I truly believe this though, being in jail has actually been the best thing for me, to have this experience and to better myself as a person,' he wrote on one occasion.

'Because while everyone, well some, experienced something life changing, something tragic, yet still wanting to do positive in the world. 

'Who knows what my life would of been liked (sic), if I did something different.'

The entries, published in 2015, did not appear to make reference to illness. 

Nguyen and two others - traffickers Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen - landed behind bars after they were arrested at the Melasti Hotel in Kuta on April 17, 2005. 

They had been planning to transport heroin to Australia. In a blog post, he recalled: 'Five gun barrels are pointing directly at my head. 

'Daring me to make any sudden moves. 

'Moments before this, around thirty guys with guns came in the hotel room. 

'My first thoughts when I saw them was, the mafia is robbing us.'  

In a previous interview with Daily Mail Australia, Nguyen said: 'No one wishes death. 

'I have a life sentence, that means life in Indonesia.  

'That's death by a different means'.   

Nguyen said his family visited when they could, but the years-long Indonesian ordeal had been hard on them financially. 

The family spent their savings on Tan's legal costs, he claimed, and the shame and stress he caused his family were one of his biggest regrets.

'I live with that regret every single morning when I wake and every night in my noisy bare jail cell as I try to sleep,' he said.

'I tell you now, there isn’t any code of honour among drug dealers and in the end it will destroy you and everyone around you.

Two members of the Bali Nine, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, were executed by firing squad in April 2015. 

The other seven members were sentenced to jail terms.

In 2006, Nguyen's sentence was upgraded to death on appeal. But a further appeal restored his original life sentence. 

Fellow smuggler Renae Lawrence expects that she could be released from prison this year.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said it 'has been providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian man who died of a terminal illness in Indonesia.' 

Source: Mail Online, Daniel Piotrowski, June 6, 2018


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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