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Showing posts from May, 2022

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USA | Parkland Case Challenges Us All to Figure Out What a Mass Murderer Deserves

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The ongoing sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz, the 23-year-old Florida man who in 2018 murdered fourteen students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, will test whether the seven men and five women on the jury hearing his case can hate the sin but muster the courage to spare the life of the sinner. That is exactly what his defense team is asking them to do as they sit in judgment of the person who perpetrated one of this country’s most brutal mass murders. Like many death penalty defense lawyers before them, Cruz’s lawyers, to their credit, have not downplayed the gravity of the horrors their client inflicted in Parkland, Florida. Instead, during the sentencing trial, or what the journalist Dahlia Lithwick once called a “trial of the heart,” they have focused their attention on who Cruz is and the factors that shaped his life. As the Supreme Court said more than fifty years ago, in capital cases those who impose the sentence must consider “

Singapore | Court of Appeal acquits man on death row accused of trafficking 1.8kg of cannabis

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The Court of Appeal on Friday (May 27) overturned the conviction of a man on death row accused of trafficking more than 1.8kg of cannabis, after finding that it was a case of mistaken delivery. Raj Kumar Aiyachami, 40, was convicted in 2020 of possessing the Class A controlled drug for the purpose of trafficking, which carries a mandatory death sentence. The Court of Appeal also acquitted a 2nd man involved in the case, Ramadass Punnusamy, 41, who was previously sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane after being found guilty as a drug courier. Both men were nabbed on Sep 21, 2015, when Ramadass, a lorry driver for a transport company in Johor Bahru, drove into Singapore and delivered a red plastic bag to Raj at Senoko Drive. Central Narcotics Bureau officers knew the delivery would be taking place that day, and arrested both men shortly after. At trial, Raj and Ramadass did not dispute that they were in possession of the drugs. Delivering the court's judgment, Ch

Iran | Man Executed in Zahedan, Man Executed in Mashhad, 8 Men Executed in Rajai Shahr Prison in One Day

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); May 26, 2022: Abdollah Barahouyi, a Baluch man sentenced to death on drug-related charges was executed in Zahedan Central Prison. According to the Baluch Activists Campaign, a Baluch man was executed on May 21. His identity has been reported as Zahedan-native, Abdollah Barahouyi who was sentenced to death for drug-related offences. The execution of Esmail Shehbakhsh, another Baluch prisoner was previously reported at the same prison on that day. At the time of writing, neither of their executions have been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to reports compiled by Iran Human Rights, at least 126 people were executed on drug-related charges in 2021, a fivefold increase compared to drug executions in the previous three years. None of the 2021 drug-relateZd executions were reported by official sources.  Data gathered by Iran Human Rights also shows that Baluch prisoners accounted for 21% of all executions in 2021, while only representing

Iran | 26 Executions in 10 Days Amid Nationwide Protests

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Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); May 27, 2022: There has been a spike in executions in Iranian prisons in the last ten days. According to Iran Human Rights’ statistics department, at least 26 people were executed in different cities in the last ten days. The rise in executions comes at a time when protests have been taking place across Iran. Expressing concern about the significant rise in executions, Iran Human Rights notes the correlation between execution numbers and political events and hikes during popular protests in its previous analytical reports. This demonstrates that Islamic Republic officials use the death penalty as a means of creating fear in society. Iran Human Rights Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “While most of those executed were charged with ordinary crimes like murder and drug offences, the authorities use the death penalty as a political tool. The executions are carried out with the aim of suppressing dissent and preserving power. The abolition of the death pen

Israel | Foreign Ministry slams Iraqi law banning ties with Israel: ‘Wrong side of history'

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Israel says normalization agreements with Arab states are future of stability, prosperity in Middle East; calls on Iraqi people not to support ‘extremist position’ The Foreign Ministry condemned on Friday a new Iraqi law that criminalizes normalization of ties and any relations with Israel, noting that it came as the Jewish state is expanding links with the Arab world. The Iraqi legislation passed on Thursday declares that violation of the law is punishable by death or life imprisonment. “This is a law that puts Iraq and the Iraqi people on the wrong side of history and disconnected from reality,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat tweeted on Friday. “Israel condemns the decision by the Iraqi parliament to pass legislation against normalization with Israel and that imposes the death penalty on one who has contact with Israel,” he said. “The changes in the Middle East and the peace and normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states, which are bringing stability an

Texas | Pastor Who Wants Death Penalty for Gays Rails Against Pride Month

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A minister who preaches that homosexuality merits the death penalty railed against Pride Month at the Arlington City Council meeting in Texas this week, saying the Bible teaches “we should hate pride, not celebrate it.” “God’s already ruled that murder, adultery, witchcraft, rape, bestiality, and homosexuality are crimes worthy of capital punishment,” Jonathan Shelley, pastor of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, said at the council meeting Tuesday. The council was taking public comments on whether to proclaim June as Pride Month. It has issued such proclamations for the past several years, TV station KERA reports. Arlington is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, and Shelley said he has church members from Arlington and does business there. “I don’t understand why we celebrate what used to be a crime not long ago,” Shelley said at the meeting, in an appearance captured on video and shared on social media. He cited passages in the Bible condemning gay sex and noted that the Te

Vietnam keeps its death sentences quiet. Rights groups say it's one of the world's biggest executioners

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(CNN) - For months, Mai Linh prayed. She prayed for justice for her only son Quan when he was held on drug charges in a maximum-security prison in Vietnam. She prayed for his physical health and mental well-being, that he would be looked after in prison because she could no longer see him due to heightened Covid-19 restrictions. And most of all, she prayed for his safe return. Quan, a salesman, was found guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to death by lethal injection. He was executed in 2021 at the age of 31. Strapped flat on his back in a straightjacket, he was tied to a gurney and injected with a cocktail of deadly drugs. But unlike in other countries such as the United States that use lethal injections in states like Texas, Mai Linh wasn't permitted to be with her son during his final moments. "There is nothing, nothing, that can prepare you for something like that," Mai Linh said. "There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think about how he died.

Oklahoma | Autopsy Reports: Recently Executed Prisoners Had Fluid in Lungs

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Oklahoma has executed 4 men over the past seven months. They all had excess fluid in their lungs when they died, autopsy reports from the Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner’s office show. Dr. Ross Miller noted minimal pulmonary edema in the autopsy report of Gilbert Postelle, who the state executed on Feb. 17.  Postelle’s lungs had a combined weight of 1,220 milligrams; the adult average is between 900 and 1,000 milligrams. Previous media reports noted that John Grant, Bigler Stouffer and Donald Grant suffered from the condition at the time of their death. Oklahoma Watch obtained Postelle’s autopsy report through an open records request. Pulmonary edema, which is typically caused by heart failure, is a condition where fluid accumulates in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. Symptoms range from mild to severe and life-threatening. Attorneys representing Oklahoma death row prisoners claim that pulmonary edema develops minutes after the sedative midazolam, the first of three drugs i

Indian-origin lawyers fined by Singapore court for delaying execution of drug trafficker

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M Ravi, who did most of the work, was ordered by the Court of Appeal to bear 75 % of the costs, while Violet Netto, who later took over as the lawyer on record, was held liable for 25 %. 2 Indian-origin Singaporean lawyers have been ordered to pay SGD20,000 (US$15,000) in costs to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for a last-ditch attempt to halt the execution of an Indian descendant Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam in April this year. M Ravi, who did most of the work, was ordered by the Court of Appeal to bear 75 % of the costs, while Violet Netto, who later took over as the lawyer on record, was held liable for 25 %. The AGC had originally sought personal costs totalling SGD 40,000 against the lawyers for setting out to delay Nagaenthran's execution by filing applications without merit, which caused it to incur unnecessary costs, according to a report by The Straits Times. Nagaenthran was hanged at Changi Prison Complex on April 27, 2022. He was convicted

Zambian President announces 'big decision' to abolish death penalty

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Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has announced he is making moves to abolish the death penalty in the country. He termed it a "big decision" by the government. “We will work with parliament to run this process as we transition away from the death penalty and focus on the preservation, and rehabilitation of life while still delivering justice for all,” he said on the eve of Wednesday’s Africa Freedom Day. “This is important. We believe in it. Africa Freedom Day is a symbol of our collective commitment to secure a better future for all.” To mark Africa Freedom Day the Zambian President has pardoned 2045 inmates, including 2012 ordinary inmates and 33 elderly inmates.  He also commuted sentences for 607 inmates. Though Zambia has had the death penalty law, no executions have taken place since the late 90s. The government will now work with Parliament to transition from the death penalty to focusing on preserving and rehabilitating life, while still delivering justice. Accord