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Showing posts from March, 2008

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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

US COURT ORDERS NEW HEARING FOR DEATH ROW CAMPAIGNER

March 27, 2008: A US federal appeals court upheld the murder conviction against Mumia Abu-Jamal, but ruled the death-row campaigner cannot be executed without undergoing a new sentencing hearing.

The three-judge panel rejected Abu-Jamal's request for a new trial but ruled the former radio journalist and Black Panther civil rights activist should either face a new hearing or have his sentence commuted to life in jail.

The 118-page ruling upheld a district court decision from 2001, which stated that jurors in the original trial were given faulty instructions.

"We will affirm the judgement of the District Court," the appeals panel said in its ruling. It said Pennsylvania could only execute Abu-Jamal if prosecutors decide to re-submit him to a new death penalty hearing.

Abu-Jamal, 53, born Wesley Cook, was sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer the year before. While in jail, he became a figurehead for anti-death penalty activists.

Abu-Jamal…

SAUDI EXECUTED FOR MURDERING COMPATRIOT

March 27, 2008: a Saudi man was beheaded by the sword after he was convicted of murdering a compatriot, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said.

Mohammed bin Duhaim al-Dossari was executed in Wadi al-Dawasser in the Riyadh region after he was found guilty of fatally shooting Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Muaili following a row, said a ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Source: Agence France Presse, 27/03/2008

JAPAN: FAMILY'S DEATH SENTENCES UPHELD

March 27, 2008: death sentences were upheld by the Fukuoka High Court in Japan against a yakuza gang boss and his son, ensuring they will join his wife and another son on Death Row.

The court dismissed the appeals by gang boss Jitsuo Kitamura and his son, Takashi, against the lower court ruling that sentenced them to death for committing four murders in 2004. The high court also upheld execution orders handed down to Kitamura's wife, Mami, and another son, Takahiro, for their roles in the killings.

Each member in the family of four has now received a death sentence that has been upheld by a high court. During his initial trial at the Kurume Branch of the Fukuoka District Court, Jitsuo Kitamura, 64, said he alone had killed all four people the clan was accused of murdering. However, during the appeal trial, Kitamura said his family had worked together to bring about the killings. His son Takashi, 27, has maintained his innocence throughout proceedings.

Source: Mainichi Daily News, 27/…

YEMENI BEHEADED IN SAUDI ARABIA FOR MURDER

March 26, 2008: a Yemeni national was beheaded by the sword in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of murdering a Saudi man.

Fuad Mohammad al-Akhram was found guilty of stabbing to death Majed Abdul Aziz al-Harbi after a dispute, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

He was executed in the western region of Mecca.

Source: Agence France Presse, 26/03/2008

SAUDI ARABIA HARSHLY CRITICISED FOR EXECUTING 15YO BOY

March 25, 2008: the international Human Rights Watch organisation harshly criticised Saudi Arabia's justice system in a report published in London.

In particular, the manner of dealing with minors, who have been sentenced to flogging or even to death, was cruel and contradicted the principles of the rule of law, the report said.

"In 2007, Saudi Arabia executed three juvenile offenders, including a 15-year-old boy who was only 13 at the time of the alleged crime," HRW said.

Saudi Arabia does not have a penal code and judges pass verdict based on their own interpretation of sharia law.

King Abdullah announced a reform of the justice system a few weeks ago which, among other things, would strengthen the right to appeal.

Sources: Monsters &Critics, Afp, 25/03/2008

Consensus on Counting the Innocent: We Can’t

A couple of years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia, concurring in a Supreme Court death penalty decision, took stock of the American criminal justice system and pronounced himself satisfied. The rate at which innocent people are convicted of felonies is, he said, less than three-hundredths of 1 percent — .027 percent, to be exact.

That rate, he said, is acceptable. “One cannot have a system of criminal punishment without accepting the possibility that someone will be punished mistakenly,” he wrote. “That is a truism, not a revelation.”

But there is reason to question Justice Scalia’s math. He had, citing the methodology of an Oregon prosecutor, divided an estimate of the number of exonerated prisoners, almost all of them in murder and rape cases, by the total of all felony convictions.

“By this logic,” Samuel R. Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in a response to be published in this year’s Annual Review of Law and Social Science, “we could estimate the proportion of …

INDONESIA. 'BALI BOMBERS' DEATH SENTENCE APPEAL DROPPED

March 24, 2008: Islamic militants in Indonesia facing death over the 2002 Bali bombings are one step closer to the firing squad after a last-ditch appeal was dropped, reports said.

"The case was withdrawn by the ones that requested it and the prosecutors did not object, this means it is over. There are no further courts (of appeal)," the head of the panel of judges hearing the case Ida Bagus Putu Madeg was quoted as saying by news website Detikcom.

A lawyer for the bombers, Fachmi Bachmid, told AFP he withdrew from the judicial review at the Denpasar district court because a request to bring his three clients, Amrozi, Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudra, to appear in person at the appeal had been rejected by the court.

"The rights of our clients have been amputated. It is clearly stated in the letter from the Supreme Court that my clients and the prosecutors need to be present (in court for the appeal)," Bachmid said.

The review is the last avenue to stop the executions of th…

Protest as Olympic torch is lit

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OLYMPIA, Greece (CNN) -- A lone protester managed to breach the tight security during the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece Monday.

The man rushed behind the podium as China's Olympic chief was speaking.

He tried to unfurl an unidentified banner, but was quickly apprehended by security who escorted him away.

Meanwhile committee chief Liu Qi continued to make his speech in Chinese while the commotion went on behind him.

The camera cut away from the scene until the protester had been removed.

The torch was lit moments later as it began its epic began its 130-day, 137,000-kilo meters (85,000-miles) journey.

China's human rights records has been under scrutiny from the international committee in the lead up to what promises to be one of the most controversial Olympic Games.

Anti-China protests began in Tibet's main city, Lhasa, on March 10 and gradually escalated. Lhasa saw at least two days of violence and there have also been violent protests in provinces which border Tibet…

CHINA 'STILL EXECUTING PRISONERS FOR ORGANS'

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March 11, 2008: the killing of persecuted groups in Chinese military hospitals so that their organs can be harvested for sale may still be continuing, a former politician who investigated the issue said.

A 2007 report exposed that China was not only harvesting organs from prisoners on death row but also adherents of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, many of whom were detained without trial. Report author and former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour told a conference at Cambridge University that he believed the tainted organs were still being sold to rich Chinese.

He said: "The party-state in China and its agencies have killed thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, without any form of prior trial, and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money, often to 'organ tourists' from wealthy countries." "Despite this practice being banned, there is concern that organs seized from Falun Gong practitioners will now go to wealthy Chinese patients ins…

CHINA: FIRST EXECUTIONS IN CHENGDU AFTER SHIFT TO LETHAL INJECTION

March 11, 2008: the intermediate people's court of southwest China's Chengdu city used lethal injections to terminate the lives of several convicts of murders and fraud after the court decided to stop applying gunshot executions from March 1st this year.

The local Chengdu Daily reported the executions were ratified by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and carried out. Jiang Xingchang, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), told China Daily in January that half of the country's 404 intermediate people's courts - which carry most of the executions - use lethal injections.

"It is considered more humane and will eventually be used in all intermediate people's courts" Jiang said without revealing a timetable.

To achieve the goal, the SPC will allocate the toxin used in the injection to local courts under strict supervision, he added. Currently, court officials have to come to Beijing for the toxin.

Source: China Daily, 13/03/2008

IRAN: WOMAN WITH DEATH SENTENCE RELEASED WITH SON

March 18, 2008: Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, the woman who was sentenced to stoning to death for adultery and at the centre of an international battle after last July her lover was stoned to death, has been released.

The woman, who has been in prison for 11 years, has left the prison of Qavzin in the north-west of the Islamic Republic, together with her 4-year-old son born from her relation with Jafar Kiani.

The release was ordered by the judicial commission for amnesty, the woman's lawyer Shadi Sadr reported, underlining that it is a "rare decision" of mercy for Iran.

Mokarrameh has returned to her family and "still can't believe that she's been pardoned" her lawyer explained.

Source: AGI, 18/03/2008

Court Rebuffs Georgian on Death Row

A narrowly divided Georgia Supreme Court declined Monday to order a new trial for a man sentenced to death in the 1989 murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer, despite recantations by seven of nine witnesses who originally testified against him.

The convicted man, Troy A. Davis, 39, had collected affidavits from all seven of the recanting witnesses, some of whom said their trial testimony had been coerced by investigators who were under pressure to convict someone in that fatal shooting of a fellow officer.

But the court, in a 4-to-3 decision written by Justice Harold Melton, held that sworn testimony at the trial was more important than the later recantations, noting that some of the witnesses had said only that they no longer felt able to identify the gunman.

Read MORE>>>

Source: The New York Times

CHINA. HANDS OFF CAIN ASKS FOR RELEASE OF DATA ON DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECUTIONS

March 17, 2008: Hands Off Cain asks China to provide data on the number of people sentenced to death and the number of executions performed.

Sergio D'Elia, Parliamentarian and HOC Secretary, and Elisabetta Zamparutti, Treasurer and curator of the HOC annual report on the death penalty around the world, said: "Like serious events that occurred in Lahsa and ones heard about in other regions in the plateau, the number of victims is not made known. This is how the death penalty in China is- it stays a state secret. The Chinese Supreme Court said last week that on reassuming the power to confirm death sentences in January 2007, there was a 15% reduction in the death sentences issued in 2007 by lower tribunals. According to the Dui Hua Foundation, an NGO based in San Francisco, approximately six thousand people were executed in China in 2007, equivalent to 25-30% less than in 2006.

These are important developments, but they must become official. Therefore, China must provide statis…

Troy Davis

Today's stunning decision by the Georgia Supreme Court to let the death sentence stand in the Troy Anthony Davis case means that the state of Georgia might execute a man who well may be innocent.

Take action now and tell the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles to commute the death sentence for Troy Anthony Davis. With this decision, the Supreme Court is demonstrating a blatant disregard for justice and turning its back on the fundamental flaws that taint Mr. Davis's case at every level.

Tell the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles to commute the death sentence for Troy Anthony Davis.

Over 60,000 supporters signed petitions on Troy's behalf, and letters of support continue to pour into his mailbox. "I want to thank all Amnesty supporters," he said, "I want to thank everyone all over the world who have been praying for me, supporting me, writing letters and signing petitions on my behalf." Troy needs your continued support today, now more than ever.

Troy Davi…

SAUDI ARABIA: CITIZEN BEHEADED FOR KILLING COMPATRIOT

March 16, 2008: Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded a man convicted of fatally shooting a fellow citizen. The Interior Ministry statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Kahtani was executed in the eastern Saudi town of al-Khobar.

The man shot the victim, Musfir bin Habad al-Dowsary, several times using an automatic weapon after a dispute.

Sources: Jerusalem Post, 16/03/2008

GUATEMALA: VETO KEEPS EXECUTIONS ON HOLD

March 14, 2008: Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom vetoed a bill that would have reinstated capital punishment and given the president the power to commute death penalty sentences.

There are 34 prisoners in limbo on death row after a high court in 2002 suspended executions, ruling that presidential reprieves on death penalty cases were unconstitutional.

The vetoed measure, approved overwhelmingly in February by lawmakers, would have given Colom the authority to decide whether the prisoners in question are executed by lethal injection or have their sentences commuted to the maximum 50 years in prison.

"If (the death penalty) were a disincentive, we would reinstate it," Colom said. "But we have studied cases in various states in the United States, and it doesn't dissuade" crime. The Catholic Church and European embassies openly opposed the law, saying it would violate human rights. Colom said "strengthening security institutions" is the best way to fight cr…

Web page on Native Americans and the death penalty

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The Death Penalty Information Center is pleased to announce the introduction of a new Web page on Native Americans and the death penalty.

The page contains information on the use of the death penalty against Native Americans and includes the results of an extensive historical study conducted by David V. Baker. His research was recently published in the December 2007 edition of Criminal Justice Studies, and is the first of its kind. Baker reported 464 executions of Native Americans between 1639 and 2006, not counting thousands of extra-judicial executions. There is a breakdown of executions by jurisdiction and by method.

As of 2006, 39 Native American prisoners resided on state and federal death rows. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 15 American Indians have been executed, mostly for the murder of white victims.

To view DPIC's page on Native Americans and the death penalty, please visit here.

DPIC will expand this page as more information becomes available.

Source: …

Chinese troops parade handcuffed Tibetan prisoners in trucks

The Chinese army drove through the streets of Lhasa today parading dozens of Tibetan prisoners in handcuffs, their heads bowed, as troops stepped up their hunt for the rioters in house-to-house searches.

As the midnight deadline approached for rioters to surrender, four trucks in convoy made a slow progress along main roads, with about 40 people, mostly young Tibetan men and women, standing with their wrists handcuffed behind their backs, witnesses said.

A soldier stood behind each prisoner, a hand on the back of their neck to ensure their heads were bowed.

Loudspeakers on the trucks broadcast calls to anyone who had taken part in the violent riots on Friday - in which Han Chinese and Hui Muslim were stabbed and beaten and shops and business set on fire - to turn themselves in. Read more>>>

Source: The London Times

Chinese Police Clash With Tibet Protesters

BEIJING — Violence erupted Friday morning in a busy market area of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, as Buddhist monks and other ethnic Tibetans clashed with Chinese security forces. Witnesses say angry Tibetan crowds burned shops, cars, military vehicles and at least one tourist bus.

The chaotic scene was the latest, and most violent, confrontation in a series of protests that began on Monday and now represent a major challenge to the ruling Communist Party as it prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August.

Beijing is facing the most serious and prolonged demonstrations in the remote Himalayan region since the late 1980s, when it suppressed a rebellion there with lethal force that left scores and possibly hundreds of ethnic Tibetans dead. The leadership is clearly alarmed that a wave of negative publicity could disrupt its elaborate plans for the Olympics and its hopes that the games will showcase its rising influence and prosperity rather than domestic turmoil. More>>>

S…

Irak - Controverse au sommet sur l'exécution d'"Ali le chimique"

L'exécution d'Ali Hassan al Madjid, cousin de Saddam Hussein condamné à mort en juin, a été retardée par de nouvelles divergences entre le Premier ministre irakien Nouri al Maliki et le conseil de la présidence.

Ce conseil, formé par le chef de l'Etat, Djalal Talabani, et les deux vice-présidents, a donné vendredi son feu vert à la pendaison, attendue de longue date, d'"Ali le chimique", mais pas à celles de deux anciens responsables militaires condamnés avec lui. Or, Maliki tient à ce que les trois hommes soient exécutés ensemble, a déclaré à Reuters Ali al Dabbagh, porte-parole du gouvernement à dominante chiite.

Madjid, l'ancien ministre de la Défense Sultan Hachem et l'ancien général Hussein Rachid Mohamed ont été condamnés à mort pour leur rôle dans l'opération Anfal, qui fit plusieurs dizaines de milliers de morts au sein de la minorité kurde, en 1988.
Talabani, membre de la communauté kurde, et le vice-président Tarek al Hachemi, de confession…

Gay Iranian teen's case will be reviewed says Home Office

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13th March 2008 16:02
PinkNews.co.uk staff writer

An Iranian teenager who was facing deportation and possible execution will have his case reviewed.

The decision was announced moments ago. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

"Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr Kazemi's case should be reconsidered on his return to the UK from the Netherlands."

More than 60 members of the House of Lords wrote to Home Secretary yesterday urging the government to "show compassion" to Mehdi Kazemi, who fears he will be executed for homosexual acts if he is returned.

The review announced by the Home Office means the deportation order against him is suspended.

Gay equality organisation Stonewall welcomed the decision to review his case.

"We are delighted that the Home Secretary has listened so closely to the argument put to her," chief executive Ben Summerskill tol…

PAKISTAN: CHRISTIAN HANGED DESPITE CLEMENCY APPEAL

March 12, 2008: a Christian man was hanged in Pakistan, after being convicted of killing a Muslim boy in what rights groups described as an unfair trial.

Zahid Masih, who was in his 20s, was executed at 6:00 am local time at the Central Jail in the city of Multan in Pakistan's Punjab province, despite appeals for clemency. His mother and other relatives were seen crying inconsolably outside the Central Jail when they received Masih's remains, two hours after the execution took place.

His defence team, church groups and human rights organizations urged Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and other authorities to grant Masih clemency, or at least a postponement of the death sentence till after Easter. Masih, a former sanitary worker in the Pakistan Army, was sentenced to death by a military court in March 2006 on charges of murdering a 9-year-old Muslim boy, identified as Muhammad Adnan.

The incident allegedly happened while he was serving in the military in Peshawar, the cap…

NETHERLANDS: DUTCH COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY GAY IRANIAN MAN

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March 11, 2008: the Council of State, the Netherlands' highest administrative court, rejected an appeal filed by Iranian homosexual Mehdi Kazemi against the immigration authorities' refusal to consider his asylum request.

The man fears he will be executed when he returns to Iran where his boyfriend reportedly named him as his partner before he was executed. Mr Kazemi says his life is also in danger because of the extensive media coverage of his case.

The Council of State rejected his appeal because he earlier applied for asylum in the UK. Under the EU's 2003 Dublin Regulation, the country the asylum seeker first enters must process their application. Mr Kazemi's request for asylum was already turned down in the UK, where his homosexuality was not considered sufficient grounds to grant him asylum.

Sources: Radio Netherlands, 11/03/2008

SAUDI ARABIA: SAUDI CITIZEN BEHEADED FOR KILLING COMPATRIOT

March 11, 2008: Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded a citizen who was convicted of fatally stabbing a compatriot.

An Interior Ministry statement, which was carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said Faisal al-Shammari was executed near the kingdom's northern border. It said al-Shammari stabbed Said bin Khalifa al-Shammari several times during a fight.

Source: International Herald Tribune, 11/03/2008

CHINA: EXECUTIONS DROP 30% IN 2007

March 10, 2008: The Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for political prisoners and researches Chinese prisons, said about 6,000 people were executed in 2007, a 25 to 30 percent drop from the year before.

Only "extremely vile criminals" were executed in China last year, said Xiao Yang, chief justice of the Supreme People's Court, declaring success in efforts to reform the much criticized legal system.

"It's a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go," said John Kamm, Dui Hua's executive director.

Xiao, giving his report to the annual session of the National People's Congress, did not say how many prisoners were executed last year. Death penalty figures are treated as a state secret in China.

Source: Ap, 10/03/2008

CHINESE SUPREME COURT REJECTS 15 PERCENT OF DEATH SENTENCES IN 2007: REPORT

March 8, 2008: China's Supreme Court rejected 15 percent of all death sentences handed down by lower courts i…

New Study Reveals Maryland Pays $37 Million for One Execution

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A new study released on March 6 found that Maryland taxpayers have paid at least $37.2 million for each of the state’s five executions since 1978 when the state reenacted the death penalty.

The study, prepared by the Urban Institute, estimates that the average cost to Maryland taxpayers for reaching a single death sentence is $3 million - $1.9 million more than the cost of a non-death penalty case.

The study examined 162 capital cases that were prosecuted between 1978 and 1999 and found that seeking the death penalty in those cases cost $186 million more than what those cases would have cost had the death penalty not been sought. At every phase of a case, according to the study, capital murder cases cost more than non-capital murder cases.

The 106 cases in which a death sentence was sought but not handed down in Maryland cost the state an additional $71 million. Those costs were incurred simply to seek the death penalty where the ultimate outcome was a life or long-term prison sentence.

R…

And then there were just three

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THE saga of the Bali Nine is not over with three young Australians still on death row in Indonesia. Myran Sukamaran, Andrew Chan and Scott Rush still face the firing squad.

Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen are believed to have won reprieves while the other three members of the Bali Nine are serving long jail sentences.

But a trend towards mercy is far from being a guarantee and lawyers for Sukamaran, Chan and Rush will be keenly aware of that.

The Supreme Court this week put a lot of weight on Chen, Nguyen and Norman being seen as "mules" and not "ringleaders" in the heroin smuggling organisation.

There is a lot of disagreement about the respective roles and influence of the various members of the Bali Nine.

Some even claim the operation was masterminded by foreign drug syndicate members who have not been caught.

Scott Rush, the youngest of the Bali Nine, has been classed by the courts as a "mule" and has good prospects of getting the same tr…

Bush’s Veto of Bill on C.I.A. Tactics Affirms His Legacy

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WASHINGTON — President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques.

Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using interrogation methods like waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad. Many such techniques are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.

Read more>>>

Source: The New York Times

Canada Seeks Clemency From Saudis

OTTAWA — The government will ask Saudi Arabia for clemency in the case of a 23-year-old Canadian who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by beheading.

Neil Hrab, a spokesman for the foreign affairs minister, Maxime Bernier, confirmed the government’s decision on Wednesday and added that Canada would help the family of the Canadian, Mohamed Kohail, to appeal his case.

Mr. Kohail was born in Saudi Arabia but moved with his family to Montreal as a teenager. In January 2007, while the Kohail family was temporarily living in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Kohail became involved in a brawl at a school his younger brother attended. He was charged with killing a teenager during the fight, and a court in Jidda convicted him.

Canada does not have a death penalty, but its current Conservative government recently abandoned a longstanding policy of automatically coming to the aid of all Canadians sentenced to death, including those jailed in the United States.

Source : The New York Times

THREE of the Bali Nine have had their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment.

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Three of the Bali Nine convicted of heroin smuggling have had their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment.

The trio of Matthew Norman, whose mother lived in Port Macquarie, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen have had their lives spared by three judges in Indonesia's highest court, the Supreme Court in Jakarta.

Court documents and an interview with one of the judges revealed the trio's previous good character and youth played a major role in the decision to grant them mercy.

The three had launched a final appeal, known as a judicial review, or PK, claiming the court which had increased their sentence from 20 years to the death penalty was in error.

They said the prosecutors in their cases had never demanded or recommended death for their crimes.

Judge Hakim Nyak Pha said there had been "intense discussion" about what penalty was appropriate.

"If they had been recidivists there would have been no mercy for them," Judge Pha said.

"It's not their job.…

INDONESIA. DEATH PENALTY LIFTED FOR 3 AUSTRALIANS

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March 5, 2008: three Australians in jail in Indonesia, members of the so-called ‘Bali Nine’ heroin smugglers, had their death sentences reduced to life in prison, their lawyer said.

Indonesia's Supreme Court overturned the death penalty for Tan Nguyen, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman, Erwin Siregar told ABC Radio.

They were arrested on the Indonesian island of Bali on April 17, 2005, and originally sentenced to life in prison before the Supreme Court upgraded their punishment in 2006. The sentences were commuted after they filed a final appeal.

Source: Bloomberg, 05/03/2008

Saudi Arabia: Canadian sentenced to death

March 3, 2008: Mohamed Kohail, a Canadian citizen jailed in Saudi Arabia on murder charges, was convicted and sentenced to a public beheading.

Kohail is to be beheaded in public but has 80 days to appeal the ruling. Kohail "got nine court sessions, each court session lasted 10 minutes," a local radio station reported. A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa confirmed that Kohail had been convicted and faces the death penalty.

"We are deeply disappointed at the verdict handed down by Saudi authorities," said Bernard Nguyen, a Foreign Affairs spokesman. A family friend claimed the court ignored evidence that would have cleared Kohail.

He also said Kohail's lawyers were repeatedly denied access to the courtroom. Kohail was allegedly involved in a schoolyard brawl that left one person dead. He was arrested along with his brother, Sultan, last spring and imprisoned in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The younger brother's fate remains unclear.

Sources: The Sta…

Paul G. Smith, Jr., Death Row, San Quentin, California

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"I am but one soul in that hell. I have only ever been that one soul. I will die that one soul. And I will defend that one soul.

Would you just accept your fate, lay down and get executed?
Would you speak out, try to fight back and hope there are people out there willing to fight the battle with you?

I know that some people will say, "They did not put you there, you put yourself there!".
I have heard that so much and that would be true - if I had DONE the crime.
But I did not.

I know, I am not a perfect person. I have more faults than you can imagine. But I do try to be as honest as I can.

I am not that hard to find. I am a real person not just some bites on a server somewhere.
I would welcome your support.
You can write me a letter if you desire, it takes little time.
Or you can respond on this site and I will get the message.

I am trying to do what it takes to enable myself the opportunity to fight back and I am truly hoping to find people like you that will step up and help, th…

CHINA. SICHUAN ADOPTS 'HUMANE' NEEDLE OF DEATH

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March 1, 2008: the capital city of southwestern China's Sichuan Province will formally adopt the lethal injection death penalty instead of shooting, a local newspaper reported.

The change came after a 10 year trial of the application of the injection, the Huaxi Metropolis News reported. The lethal injection, which tends to reduce pain for both the prisoners and their families, will be funded by the country's Supreme People's Court with each injection priced at 300 yuan (US$42.1), the report said

Staff involved in the injection process will receive special training, especially psychological training, to help them cope with the execution, the report said. It said a board with a hole will be set up between prisoners and police officers so that neither of them will see each other during the execution.

Prisoners will be asked to stretch their arm through the hole and the police will inject the fatal medicine into the arm, the report said. The medicine first makes the prisoner u…