Oklahoma | I went inside death row, what I saw made me sick - Henry McLeish

The evolution of civilised behaviour, indicating a retreat from barbarism, has become a distinctive feature of most modern western democracies, but America often disappoints, retaining practices that shock, sadden, and in my case, nearly made me physically sick.
My visit to death row at McAlester State Penitentiary, Oklahoma, brought home to me, how the final setting for government sponsored killings, combined with execution by lethal injection, brought a brutal end to lives. And made a mockery of the idea of justice, offering instead a violent, humiliating, and inhuman act of revenge, with no serious pretence that any of these end of life dramas, provide any deterrence in criminal justice terms. Formerly known as “Indian Territory”, and home of the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, with a population of over 4 million, became a state in 1907. Located in America’s “Bible” belt, where there is a strong fundamentalist Christian tradition and powerful Republican politics, Oklahoma remains a pro…

Japanese politician escapes death penalty in China after getting caught with 3 kg of drugs

China prison
Sakuragi escaped the death penalty only because Chinese law prohibits giving the death penalty to people above the age of 75.

A Chinese court on Friday sentenced former Japanese politician Takuma Sakuragi to life in prison in a drug trafficking case, while one African national was sentenced to death, another from Mali was given the life sentence. Sakuragi was given the life sentences in a 5-year-old case.

Sakuragi, now 76, was apprehended in 2013 with as much as 3.3 kilograms of illegal stimulants in his possession. 

Sakuragi, who is a former city assemblyman from Aichi, pleaded not guilty to the charges, AP reported. Usually, China sentences a person convicted of carrying at least 1 kg of drugs to death.

Sakuragi escaped the death penalty only because Chinese law prohibits giving the death penalty to people above the age of 75. 

Harsh anti-drug laws in China mean that many convicts get the death penalty. Alongside Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, China hands out the most number of death penalties in the world.

Sakuragi, who claimed that he was asked by a Nigerian acquaintance to carry a suitcase, said he will file an appeal in a higher court. 

The Japanese politician is determined to "fight to the end," his attorney said, according to Kyodo News. He has maintained that he was unaware that the luggage contained stimulants.

Complex case

"I have been working hard for six years (after being arrested) and I am looking forward to the final result," Sakuragi said, according to Kyodo. 

The man's health had considerably deteriorated during the long-term detention and trial. 

The court had pushed the deadline in the case multiple times citing complexities.

According to Amnesty International, China is the world's top executioner. While the rights watchdog has approximate figures on those condemned to death in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the numbers for China remained untraceable, Amnesty said in a 2016 report.

"Amnesty stopped publishing its estimated figures in 2009, challenging the Chinese government to reveal their own figures and demonstrate that they really are limiting their use of the death penalty - something they have claimed to be doing since the country's highest court began reviewing all death penalty cases in 2007. China remained the world's top executioner," a report by the rights watchdog had said.

Source: ibtimes.sg, Jacob J, November 8, 2019

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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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