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Showing posts from July, 2021

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"And you're told it's time to die": A Personal Contribution to the 2021 World Day Against the Death Penalty

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The following text is excerpted from  Death Row Diary , by William Van Poyck. William Van Poyck -- who maintained his innocence -- was executed by the state of Florida on June 12, 2013.  The 58-year-old, convicted of the 1987 murder of Glades Correctional Institution guard Fred Griffis outside a West Palm Beach doctor’s office, offered his views on everything from prison food to movies to the blood lust of politicians who support the death penalty via letters he posted online with the help of his sister.  After his conviction, Van Poyck, with a reform school education, authored three books, one of which won first-place honors in the memoir category in Writer’s Digest 2004 Self-Published Book Awards.  Locked up with what the courts have deemed the worst of the worst, Van Poyck opened the doors to a secret world few can imagine... The following piece is excerpted from William Van Poyck’s dispatches written during the last two years prior to his own execution. "Robert Waterhouse was

Navid Afkari could have been representing Iran in Tokyo's Olympics… instead his country hanged him

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Navid Afkari was a wrestling champion in Iran and his success in his country's No1 sport made him a hero.  But in 2018, Afkari was arrested after taking part in widespread protests against the Iranian regime He said he was tortured into confessing to murder and Amnesty International said his trial was 'grossly unfair'. Afkari was hanged last September, aged 27. Now, his name is used as focal point for those continuing their resistance against Iran's rulers. If things had been different, Navid Afkari could be fulfilling a lifelong dream of representing Iran in Olympic wrestling this week. (...) Last September, he was hanged in Iran for a crime he insisted he didn’t commit, executed by the country he longed to represent. Wrestling is Iran’s national sport, its history stretching back to the days of ancient Persia. They have won 43 Olympic medals, more than any other event in their history at the Games. And it’s clear to see how they are so good, with wrestling gyms popula

Saudi Arabia Executes ISIS Member in Jazan

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The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that it had carried out the death penalty against a member of the ISIS terror group in Jazan city. In a statement, it identified the individual as Saudi national Mohammed bin Ibrahim bin Ali al-Rifai.  It said he had adopted takfiri ideology, which violates Islamic values. He had consequently declared his allegiance to ISIS and its terrorist practices and sought to fulfill the group’s agenda. He had at one point attacked a bank in Jazan city, opening fire at the people inside, leaving two dead and two wounded.  Others were held hostage at the scene. The perpetrator resisted arrest and opened fire at the security forces. He was eventually arrested and charged. He was referred to the specialized court where he was convicted and sentenced to death. The Interior Ministry underscored the government’s keenness on consolidating security and pursuing justice against everyone who violates the country’s security and stability and commits terroris

China | Man who killed his pregnant wife sentenced to death

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Yan Haojie, the man who killed his pregnant wife after she refused to help him repay his gambling debts, has been sentenced to death, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court announced on Friday. Investigations revealed that Yan, who was saddled with a gambling debt of over 1 million yuan, demanded money from his wife and threatened her with a knife on the morning of March 20, 2020.  He then stabbed her to death after she refused.  He later set fire to the house to cover up his crime. The court found Yan guilty of intentional homicide and arson.  Despite confessing to his crimes, he has been given capital punishment and deprived of political rights for life. According to the investigation findings, Yan failed to obtain his degree while studying abroad and has been addicted to gambling since 2018.  He also scouted his wife's home in the Pudong New Area before making the attack. Source:  China Daily, Staff, July 31, 2021 🚩 | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest

Texas | Should the Walmart shooter get the death penalty? El Paso is divided

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Texas carries out more executions than any other state — by a long shot.   More than 570 people have been executed by the state of Texas since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after briefly ruling it unconstitutional. That’s five times more than the number of executions in Virginia, the state with the next highest number. Capital punishment remains a divisive topic in Texas and beyond. A 2021 Pew Research Center study found that 60% of Americans were in favor of the death penalty, while 80% said there was risk of innocent people being put to death. Twenty-three U.S. states and more than 70% of the countries in the world have abolished capital punishment entirely.  In El Paso, perspectives on capital punishment have a new personal significance for many after the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting at a Walmart. Former El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza sought the death penalty of the accused shooter before he retired in 2020. His successor, Yvonne Rosales, s

Ohio | Man could face death penalty in beating death of his son

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CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio man who called 911 to say he was hearing voices and had struck his 5-year-old son with a baseball bat has been indicted on a new aggravated murder charge that could lead to a death sentence if convicted. Matthew Ponomarenko, 32, of Parma, was indicted by a grand jury in Cleveland earlier this week, cleveland.com reported on Friday. Jax Ponomarenko was found dead after the beating in March.  His father was indicted on an aggravated murder charge in April that didn't include death penalty specifications.  A judge ordered Ponomarenko to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he was competent to stand trial. Prosecutors at the time said they would consider seeking a new indictment with harsher potential penalties. A message seeking comment was left with Ponomarenko's attorney on Friday. Ponomarenko remains jailed on a $5 million bond. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday. Source: myjournalcourier.com , Staff, July 30, 2021 Parma man accused

Pakistan | Women lawmakers demand public hanging of rapists, killers

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[ You can't stop progress - DPN]  Pakistan: Women lawmakers in the country have asked that the murderer of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam is put to death and that rapists and child killers be publicly hung. During Friday’s sessions, the National Assembly overwhelmingly denounced heinous acts of violence against women and children, including the murder of Noor. According to The News, PTI MNA Asma Qadeer cried on the House floor while speaking about the horrific murder of Noor Mukadam and the increasing number of instances of violence against women and children in Pakistan. The PML-Mehnaz N’s Akbar Aziz and the PPP’s Shamim Ara both requested the death penalty for Noor Mukadam’s murderer. Ara also called for the death penalty for all other murders and rapists of children. MNA Aziz said: “Noor Mukadam murder-like incidents will not stop unless the death penalty is implemented.” She said the culprits should be tried in anti-terrorism and speedy trial courts. “We want the decision in the cas

Iran | Three inmates executed in Qazvin

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 30, 2021: Esmail Fatehi, Mansour Mohammadi and Mozafar (surname unknown) have been executed on drug-related charges in Qazvin Central Prison.  At least 55 prisoners, including a woman, have been executed on drug-related charges in Iranian prisons in 2021. According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, three men were executed on drug-related charges on the morning of July 28 in Qazvin Central Prison.  Their identities have been established as Esmail Fatehi, Mansour Mohammadi and Mozafar (surname unknown). Speaking to IHR, informed sources said: “Esmail Fatehi was arrested and imprisoned five years ago for carrying 300 kilograms of opium. Mansour Mohammadi and Mozafar had been behind bars for around six years.” At the time of writing, none of their executions have not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights’ Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, at least 25 people were executed on drug-related charg

The lawyer who saved 1,000 from the noose

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"30 years of visiting death row clients has taught me that these are vulnerable, damaged people, often with severe mental illness — while most have not had fair trials.” Saul Lehrfreund admits that last Friday was unusually rewarding. “When I went to work that morning, Sierra Leone still had the death penalty and there were 80 or 90 prisoners on death row,” he says. “When I left the office that evening, its parliament had voted to abolish it, and death row didn’t exist. All those prisoners, who’ve spent years expecting to be hanged — some will now be judged to have served their time, and released.” Lehrfreund has spent almost three decades fighting to save condemned inmates’ lives around the world. He and his colleagues — including, notably, a certain Keir Starmer QC — have won some highly significant cases, which have seen innocent people walk free and the numbers of death sentences and executions in several Commonwealth countries drastically reduced. But the decision taken by S

Iran | Raisi’s Execution Tactics Exposed

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Ebrahim Raisi will become president of Iran in just over a week, even though (or perhaps, because) his resume is filled with crimes against the Iranian people and humanity.  Shortly after his ascension was announced, Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnès Callamard criticized Raisi’s rise to the second-most powerful position in the country. Callamard wrote: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran…” Let’s look into that a little more. Executions The Iranian regime is the world leader in executions per capita because the mullahs use the death penalty as a tool for repression, murdering political activists to intimidate the wider public into submission, although it should be noted that this doesn’t just apply to the regime’s enemies. This has increased markedly during Raisi’s stint as Judiciary Chief from 2019 u

Georgia | Seeking death penalty in Fulton County against accused spa shooter could potentially lead to years of court hearings

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Death penalty sentences are rare in the state. There are only 40 prisoners currently on death row in Georgia from cases dating back to 1976. ATLANTA — Robert Aaron Long was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday for the killings four people at a Cherokee County spa in March. The sentencing came as part of a plea deal. Long's attorneys approached the Cherokee County District Attorney's Office to request that they avoid a trial in the case. Wanting swift justice, the victims' families agreed, according to Shannon Wallace, the D.A. for Cherokee County.   On Wednesday, Long was transferred to the Fulton County jail as he faces charges related to the four people prosecutors accuse him of killing at two spas in Atlanta. Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis said for those murders, she plans to seek the death penalty.  Veteran metro Atlanta prosecutors believe any death penalty case presents several difficulties and will add significant time to the