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

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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…

Chadian National Assembly Votes To Abolish The Death Penalty

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The Chadian National Assembly voted unanimously on Tuesday to abolish the death penalty in this Sahelian country where the death penalty was still authorized for terrorist acts, the justice minister told AFP.
“The deputies voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty for acts of terrorism,” said Minister Djimet Arabi, the originator of the bill submitted to the Assembly several months ago.
To enter into force, the measure must still be promulgated by President Idriss Déby Itno. 
In 2016, Chad adopted a reform of the Penal Code, repealing the death penalty, except in cases of terrorism.
The measure voted Tuesday aims to “harmonize our anti-terrorism legislation with those of all G5 Sahel countries that do not provide for the death penalty for acts of terrorism,” said the Minister of Justice.
He was referring to the G5 Sahel, a regional organization grouping Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
A huge country stretching from central Africa to the Sahelo-Saharan strip, Chad…

Indonesia | Corruption Eradication Commission warns that COVID-19 aid swindlers face death penalty

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The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has asserted that those found guilty of corruption relating to COVID-19 relief funds could face the death penalty.
"Public safety is the highest law. We have no choice but to punish those who commit corruption during a disaster with the death penalty,” KPK chairman Firli Bahuri said on Wednesday in a meeting with the House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs.
The 2001 Anticorruption Law stipulates that those found to have committed corruption or self-enrichment offenses that cause state losses during a national disaster may be sentenced to death.
He added that the antigraft body had identified four areas of the government’s COVID-19 response that were prone to corruption, namely goods and services procurement, third party donations, budget reallocation and aid distribution.
The KPK had also formed a task force to oversee these sectors.
"We collaborate with ministries and various agencies. We’ve also asked fo…

Court to hold hearing on Oklahoma’s “risky and incomplete” lethal injection protocol used in previous botched executions

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On Tuesday, May 5 at 1:30 p.m., a federal district court will hear Glossip, et al., v. Gross, in which attorneys will argue whether the state of Oklahoma provided an incomplete execution protocol on February 13. At that time, state officials announced that it would use the same three drug cocktail that was used five years ago in the two botched executions in Oklahoma.
Judge Stephen P. Friot will preside over the hearing at the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, William J. Holloway, Jr. United States Courthouse, 200 NW 4th Street, Courtroom 401, in Oklahoma City.
The new protocol retains the use of midazolam in a three-drug protocol, which has contributed to a number of problematic executions across the country, including the execution of [Clayton] Lockett.
Attorneys representing Oklahoma death row prisoners contend that “the protocol lacks the details about execution personnel training necessary to assess whether the revised protoco…

USA | Black gay female immigrant disabled judge appointed to Washington State’s Supreme Court

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“I believe, as a marginalized individual—being a black gay female immigrant disabled judge—that my perspective is a little different.”
Grace Helen Whitener, a Black, gay, female, disabled, immigrant judge has been appointed to Washington State’s Supreme Court.
Whitener was sworn in by Democrat governor Jay Inslee, who also swore in Jewish Native American politician Raquel Monotya-Lewis and Mary Yu, an Asian-American Latina lesbian who officiated the first same-sex marriage in Washington.
Whitener, Montoya-Lewis and Yu’s appointments mean Washington State is now one of the most diverse courts in history.
Before her history-making nomination to the Supreme Court, Whitener said: “I believe, as a marginalized individual—being a black gay female immigrant disabled judge—that my perspective is a little different.
“I try to make sure that everyone that comes into this courtroom feels welcome, feels safe, and feels like they will get a fair hearing.”
Throughout her career, the 55-year-old ha…

Tennessee Set To Execute Intellectually Disabled Black Man In Killing Of White Woman Even Though Innocence Questions Persist

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Attorneys say the prosecution’s theory of the murder case was ‘concocted out of whole cloth’ and based on ‘outdated racial stereotyping.’
For more than 30 years, Pervis Payne has told the same story about what happened on June 27, 1987. 
It’s the story he told in court when he testified at his capital murder trial.  
On that Saturday afternoon, Payne, then 20, was waiting for his girlfriend, Bobbie Thomas, to return from a trip. They had plans to spend the weekend together in Millington, Tennessee, a small town in Shelby County, and Payne had been checking in at Thomas’s apartment building all day. But when he arrived at the Hiwassee Apartments around 3 p.m. he felt that something was off. He saw a man come running past him, bounding down the stairs as change and papers fell from his pockets. After picking up some of the scattered items, Payne walked to the building’s second floor, where he noticed the door to the apartment across the hall from Thomas’s unit was open. After hearing so…

Happy Ramadan | Iran Carries Out 5 Executions in Less Than a Week in Sanandaj, 2 in Urmia, 3 in Isfahan

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); April 29, 2020: With the execution of another man on April 28 in Sanandaj prison, the total number of executions in the prison during six days has reached five. 
According to IHR sources, death-row prisoner Faegh Sharifi was hanged on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. “Faegh was sentenced to death for murdering his neighbour,” the source told IHR.
The Hengaw website that first published the news reported that Mr Sharifi was the father of three. 
His execution is carried out while the Islamic Republic’s authorities had usually been reluctant to execute people in the Muslims’ fasting month, Ramadan, during the past years. However, several people have been executed in the first days of Ramadan 2020. 
Executions in Iran have continued to be carried out even after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
Only in Sanandaj prison, at least five people were executed in the past six days.
Two Men Hanged in Urmia Prison
Iran Human Rights (IHR); April 29, 2020: Two me…

Turkey’s president says it’s “totally right” to say that homosexuality “brings illnesses”

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He said criticizing a religious leader's anti-gay statements is "an attack on the state."
The president of Turkey said that a prominent cleric was “absolutely right” to say that homosexuality “brings illnesses.”
This past Friday, the head of the Turkish government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Ali Erbas used a Ramadan address to denounce homosexuality, which he said “brings illnesses and corrupts generations.”
RELATED Turkey uses tear gas to break up gay pride gathering
While he did not specifically mention the current global pandemic, Erbas said that homosexuality “causes” HIV, which is not true.
“Come and let’s fight together to protect people from such evil,” he said.
His comments drew criticism from the Ankara Bar Association, which said that they “came from ages ago” and would encourage hate crimes. They also accused the Diyanet of ignoring child abuse in religious institutions.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, yesterday, defended the cleric: “What he…

Missouri Supreme Court Lets Inmate's Execution Date Stand

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The Missouri Supreme Court has denied a request from a man facing execution next month for a hearing to argue that he’s innocent and impaired by a traumatic brain injury.
JEFFERSON CITY, MO. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from a man facing execution next month for a hearing to argue that he's innocent and impaired by a traumatic brain injury.
Walter Barton, 64, was convicted of killing an 81-year-old mobile home park manager nearly three decades ago. Barton's case has been tied up in court for years due to mistrials, appeals and two overturned convictions, and his attorney continues to maintain his innocence. 
The state Supreme Court in February set a May 19 execution date.
Gladys Kuehler operated a mobile home park in the southwestern Missouri town of Ozark. In October 1991, officers found Kuehler dead inside her mobile home. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed more than 50 times.
DNA testing showed that a stain on Barton’s clothi…

USA | Capital murder case sought after death of final El Paso Walmart shooting victim

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An additional capital murder case will be sought against the El Paso Walmart shooting suspect after the final hospitalized patient died over the weekend.
Guillermo "Memo" Garcia died on Saturday after being hospitalized at Del Sol Medical Center for nearly nine months after being shot on Aug. 3 in what federal prosecutors have described as a domestic terror attack.
The death toll is now 23 people and more than two dozen wounded in what law enforcement officials described as a racially-motivated mass shooting targeting Latinos at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall. 
“The District Attorney’s Office will seek a new capital murder indictment to include the tragic death of Mr. Guillermo Garcia," El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza said Monday.
The accused shooter, Patrick Crusius, was first indicted by a state grand jury on Sept. 12 on a charge of capital murder of multiple persons. Garcia's death could be added in a superseding indictment.
After the six-month annive…

France Condemns Iran Over Executions Of Child Offenders

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France on Monday condemned Iran over the executions this month of two young offenders who it said where minors at the time of their crimes, accusing Tehran of violating its international obligations.
The French foreign ministry said that Shayan Saeedpour was executed on April 21 and Majid Esmailzadeh on April 18, noting they were both "minors at the time of the facts".
"The executions are contrary to the international obligations that Iran has signed up to itself, in particular the international convention on the rights of the child," it said.
Amnesty International had already condemned the execution of Saeedpour, 21, at the central prison in Saqqez, in Iran's Kurdistan province, "as vengeful and cruel."
It said the conviction was in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man during a fight in August 2015 when Saeedpour was 17. He had a history of mental illness.
RELATEDIran | Execution of young man ‘vengeful and cruel’
It said Saeedpour was among…