The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Georgia: Death-row inmate says he should be executed by firing squad

Michael Wade Nance
“If he needs a firing squad, then let him have it,” district attorney says.

A condemned killer from Gwinnett County has sued Georgia’s prison system, saying he should be executed by firing squad because his veins are so narrow that an attempted lethal injection could cause him excruciating pain.

“Execution by firing squad is both swift and virtually painless,” said the federal lawsuit filed by death-row inmate Michael Wade Nance. “Evidence and recent experience strongly suggest that the firing squad is significantly more reliable than lethal injection.”

Nance was sentenced to death in 2002 by a Gwinnett jury for fatally shooting 43-year-old Gabor Balogh when Balogh resisted giving up his car to Nance. Nance had just robbed the Tucker Federal Savings and Loan in Lilburn and was looking for a getaway car to escape.

Nance’s appeals are in their final stages. He must submit filings to the U.S. Supreme Court by Feb. 12.

Georgia’s lethal injection procedure involves the intravenous application of pentobarbital.

Nance’s veins are “severely compromised” and extremely difficult to locate, the lawsuit said. If lethal injection is attempted, there is a substantial risk that Nance’s veins will lose their integrity, leading to leakage of the pentobarbital into the surrounding tissue, the suit said.

This would lead to a “prolonged execution that will produce excruciating pain,” the suit said.

In addition, Nance has, for several years, been taking increased dosages of a drug to relieve chronic back pain. This drug has altered Nance’s brain chemistry in such a way to compromise the effectiveness of the pentobarbital, causing an even greater chance of him being in great pain for an extended period of time, the suit said.

For those reasons, a firing squad would prevent Nance from enduring cruel and unusual punishment during his execution, the suit said.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter, when notified Friday, said nothing about the new lawsuit changes his position that Nance should be executed for his crimes.“If he needs a firing squad, then let him have it,” Porter said. “It’s certainly a unique request.”

Georgia once used firing squads to execute condemned inmates but that occurred no later than 1924, when the state began using the electric chair, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. 

After the state Supreme Court ruled the chair unconstitutional in 2001, Georgia switched to lethal injection and has used it ever since.

The last execution by firing squad nationwide occurred in 2010 in Utah, which still allows that method of capital punishment.

In 2017, Georgia death-row inmate J.W. Ledford Jr. also asked for a firing squad because he’d used the same drug for his chronic back pain as Nance. But courts rejected his request and he was put to death by lethal injection.

When asked about Nance’s lawsuit, State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lori Benoit said her agency does not comment on pending litigation. 

Attempts to reach Nance’s lawyers were unsuccessful.

Source: ajc.com, Bill Rankin, January 10, 2020

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

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