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“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

Indonesian drug kingpin sentenced to death for smuggling meth from Malaysia

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The Medan District Court has sentenced Junaidi Siagian to death for smuggling 53.3 kilograms of methamphetamines from Malaysia.

At the same hearing, Junaidi’s associate Elpi Darius was sentenced to life for taking part in the smuggling. 

Earlier, prosecutors had demanded that the court sentence them both to death. 

Presiding judge Gosen Butar-butar said the two defendants were found guilty of violating the 2009 Narcotics Law.

“There is nothing that mitigates the actions of the two defendants. Defendant Junaidi is sentenced with the death penalty and defendant Elpi Darius with life imprisonment,” Gosen said during the hearing on Tuesday.

Gosen said Junaidi was given a harsher sentence because he was found to be the mastermind behind the case, while Elpi was only following Junaidi’s orders.

The ruling drew emotional reactions from the defendants’ families, who were present in the courtroom, as well as from the defendants themselves.

Elpi kicked a chair, while Junaidi yelled threats at the prosecutors.

Junaidi also said he would appeal the sentence because he thought it was unfair.

“I don’t accept the judges’ decision. I will appeal. There were five of us but only I was sentenced to death, while my friends were not. One even got 17 years. Why is this?” he told reporters after the trial. 

The drug smuggling case was first discovered by police at the end of 2018. 

The smugglers’ supplier in Malaysia is still at large.

Source: Jakarta Post, Apriadi Gunawan, June 12, 2019


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