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Showing posts from January, 2019

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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…

Egypt approves death penalty for drug dealers

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Egypt’s cabinet has approved a draft law that would see drug dealers sentenced to death, Al-Masry Al-Youm has reported.
The law, which was presented to the cabinet yesterday, was part of a broader bill to combat the spread of narcotics in the country and drugs trafficking.
The draft amendment states that anyone who “brought or exported synthetic substances with an anaesthetic effect, or harmful to mind, body, or psychological and neurological condition shall be punished by death”, adding that those who possessed drugs for the purpose of trafficking could face life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $28,000.
It stipulates a further fine of $11,300 for those found possessing drugs for individual usage as well as a prison sentence of at least one year.
The move comes a week after British tourist Laura Plummer was released early from an Egyptian prison on a presidential pardon, after being convicted on charges of drug trafficking. Sentenced to three years, in October 2017 she brought 290…

87th Woman Executed Under Rouhani in Iran

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A woman was hanged on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, in Nowshahr Prison, in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran.
The woman identified only as M.A, was convicted of “killing her husband.”
She had spent 6 years on death row.
The woman is the 87th woman who is executed under Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime’s president.
The Iranian regime is the world’s top record holder in execution of women while it has the highest per capita executions in the world.
Last month a young woman identified only as Noushin was executed in Iran, the state-run ROKNA news agency reported on December 22, 2018.
Noushin was convicted of murdering a man, Soheil, who had promised to marry her, but took advantage of her, and subsequently brutalized, blackmailed and forced her into having sexual relations with his friends.
She did this for a month before she decided to stop this situation by killing the man who was forcing her to do so.
It is worth noting that the horrific news of the execution of 24-year-ol…

Filipina maid executed in Saudi on murder charges

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Officials said her case could not be settled with “blood money”
A Filipina domestic worker has been executed in Saudi Arabia after she was found guilty of murder, the Asian nation’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has said.
The 39-year-old woman was sentenced to death after the Saudi Supreme Judicial Council ruled that the case could not be settled with “blood money” under Sharia law, the DFA statement said.
The execution was carried out on January 29.
“The department regrets that it was not able to save the life of the Filipina,” it said.
No further details about the case were provided.
Philippines’ ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto said the woman had been provided with assistance throughout her trial, including the provision of a lawyer and consular visits.
Her family had also been informed about updates in the case.
Saudi Arabia uses the death penalty for several offences including murder, drug-related crimes and terrorism.
Earlier this week, four Yemeni nationals were ex…

Sri Lanka president vows to go ahead with 'Duterte Style" executions

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Annihilating drug peddlers and abusers have been handed over to the armed forces, said Sri Lanka’s president.
President Maithripala Sirisena made this shocking statement at a state sponsored drug abuse prevention programme in the southern town of Matara.
“I will implement the death penalty, soon,” he said amidst applause by the police chief and senior military officials among a large gathering of school children.
That will be executed by the Tri forces, Police and Civil Defence Force “to win it on a war footing, similar to the war to defeat Tamil Tigers” in 2009.
“I will, I have already assigned the task of destroying drug dealers in the same manner they destroyed LTTE terrorists.”
'Finishing off'
International bodies including the UN has repeatedly urged Sri Lanka to investigate its armed forces role in the war that claimed at least 70,000 civilian lives. 
Since his return from the Philippines a few weeks ago, President Sirisena has been pledging to follow on the footsteps of…

Oklahoma's next execution is a long way off

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Oklahoma's death row houses 18 inmates who have exhausted their legal appeals, meaning they're eligible for execution. When — or whether — any of those executions occurs, however, is an open question.
The state hasn't carried out an execution since January 2015 — 4 years ago — and officials have been unable to get ahold of the machinery needed for the state's new execution protocol. In short, this is a mess.
Oklahoma officials announced last year that the state would go away from using three drugs in its executions, and instead would become the first state to use nitrogen gas. The change was driven, largely, by the difficulty in acquiring the necessary drugs — more and more manufacturers, wary of reprisals by anti-death penalty groups, have stopped selling their products if they're to be used in executions.
The same problem has arisen with nitrogen, as The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay reported Sunday.
Potential makers of a gas delivery device, said Department of Cor…

Texas executes Robert Jennings

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Texas inmate executed for Houston officer's death during adult bookstore robbery
A 61-year-old Texas inmate was executed Wednesday evening for killing a Houston police officer more than 3 decades ago.
Robert Jennings received lethal injection for the July 1988 fatal shooting of Officer Elston Howard during a robbery at an adult bookstore that authorities said was part of a crime spree.
As witnesses filed into the death chamber, Jennings asked a chaplain standing next to him if he knew the name of the slain officer. The chaplain didn't respond, and a prison official then told the warden to proceed with the punishment.
"To my friends and family, it was a nice journey," Jennings said in his final statement. "To the family of the police officer, I hope y'all find peace. Be well and be safe and try to enjoy life's moments, because we never get those back."
Outside the prison, more than 100 officers stood vigil. And a motorcycle club that supports police …

Texas to execute man who killed policeman 30 years ago

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(Reuters) - After nearly 30 years on death row, Robert Mitchell Jennings is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Texas on Wednesday for killing a police officer during a botched robbery.
His latest appeal was rejected this week by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he argued that inadequate legal representation had prevented him from taking full advantage of possible appeals with the U.S. Supreme Court, the anti-death penalty group, The Forgiveness Foundation, said.
Barring a last minute stay from the Supreme Court or the state governor, the 61-year-old Jennings would be the first person executed in Texas this year.
He was convicted for the July 1988 slaying of 24-year-old Elston Howard, a vice officer in the city of Houston, during a failed robbery of an adult bookstore, according to state prison records.
At the time of the robbery Jennings was on parole after serving 10 years of a 30-year sentence for another robbery.
Howard was in the bookstore serving an arrest w…

Asia Bibi case: Christian woman jailed for blasphemy free to leave Pakistan after supreme court ruling

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Pakistan‘s supreme court has upheld its decision to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row over blasphemy charges. 
Ms Bibi’s case became a totemic cause for fundamentalist preachers in Pakistan, after she was accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad during an argument with two Muslim women. She strongly denied the allegation.
Her conviction and death sentence were thrown out by the supreme court in October, which cited a complete lack of evidence. The decision sparked protests across the country.
On Tuesday afternoon, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said in court that the acquittal would stand. “Based on merit, this review petition is dismissed,” he told a lawyer representing the dozens of petitioners. “You could not point out [even] a single mistake in the supreme court’s verdict.”
Ms Bibi’s supporters at the court were jubilant. Human rights activist Farzana Bari said: “This decision will help eliminate the atmosphere of fear.”
Saif ul-Mulook, Ms Bib…

Pakistan: Court due to hear appeal against Asia Bibi's acquittal

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Asia Bibi's acquittal will be appealed against in Pakistan's Supreme Court tomorrow, Tuesday 29 January 2019, in an attempt by Pakistan's hard-line anti-Christian lobby to prevent her freedom and have the death penalty imposed upon her.
Open Doors advocacy spokesman Dr Matthew Rees said: "The Supreme Court's decision will send a powerful signal. Can Christians and other minorities' rights be protected in Pakistan?
"The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are often used corruptly to allow persecution with impunity and to silence witnesses to crimes. Asia's case and the violence surrounding it symbolises the extremes of opinion on these laws.
"Asia has suffered for too many years for a crime she did not commit. She has been declared innocent by the highest court in Pakistan and deserves to rebuild her life."
A partner of Open Doors who works on the ground in Pakistan said: "Asia Bibi is a much-loved and prayed-for woman. What happens to her impac…

China executes man who killed 15 people after ramming car into crowd

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Hengdong: On Tuesday,  Chinese authorities executed a man who killed 15 people after ramming a car into a crowded square in central Hunan province last year. 
Last September, Yang Zanyun ploughed a Land Rover into pedestrians at a public square in Hengdong city before slashing at people with a shovel and dagger. 
Fifteen people were killed and 43 others were injured. 
The Hengyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan region said Tuesday it "carried out the death penalty" on Yang Zanyun for "endangering public security through dangerous methods".
According to reports by Chinese media, In December, eight people were killed and 22 injured after a man hijacked a bus and crashed into pedestrians in eastern Fujian province. 
He had killed a local official and police officer before commandeering the bus.
While Local police had called him a "vengeful repeat offender" at the time, naming drug charges, theft and intentionally causing hurt as previous offences …