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Showing posts from February, 2010

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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…

Spanish Prime Minister calls for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide by 2015

United Nations, New York, 24 February 2010 - (Translation below) SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister, Spain: It is unfortunate that there are still numerous places today where the death penalty is still applied and we need to work hard to step up our efforts for its universal abolition.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister, Spain:
My friends we have 5 years to achieve our goal -- to stop executions around the world: If we work together it is a goal within our reach.

Addressing the World Congress Against the Death Penalty meeting in Geneva today, the Prime Minister of Spain, whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union, said it was unfortunate that today numerous countries still continue to apply the death penalty.

The two-day congress, organized by the French NGO Ensemble together with the Swiss government, and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, aimed to persuade more countries to sign up to a Unite…

Bali 9, boat people, thorny issues for SBY-Rudd talks

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (left) will meet Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd next month to talk on wide bilateral relations, including thorny issues, such as Australians on death row and stranded boat people.

However Jakarta and Canberra both say their relations are fine.

"Indonesia and Australia have been experiencing intensive convergence in terms of their national interests, which now also include climate change and terrorism issues, and their participation in global economic reform as mutual members of the G20..." Dino told a press conference at the Presidential Office.

However, news reports also indicate that Australian diplomats in Jakarta have told Indonesian officials that the possible execution of three Australians, members of the Bali Nine group, for drug smuggling in Denpasar, would be very sensitive for Australia's government in an election year.

Australian acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean denied any link between discussing the possible executions…

8 hanged in Iran

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Iran Human Rights, February 27: Three men were hanged in the prison of Birjand in eastern Iran, reported the daily newspaper Khorasan.

The men, who were not identified by name, were convicted of murdering several security forces during armed clashes close to the eastern borders of Iran.

Iran Human Rights, February 25: Five men were hanged in the prison of Kerman, southeastern Iran, reported the state run Iranian news agency ISNA today.

The men were identified as "Rouhollah Kh.", "Saeed M.", "Shokrollah N." and "Zabihollah Kh." and were all convicted of drug trafficking and keeping arms.

The charges have not been confirmed by independent sources.

Source: Iran Human Rights, Feb. 28, 2010

Live from death row

Mumia Abu-Jamal on the phone with his defense counsel Robert Bryan. from ECPM on Vimeo.
The 180 members of the public who had gathered to view the film Manners of dying had an opportunity to witness a discussion between Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lawyer Robert Bryan.

The film screening organized Tuesday evening at Maison des arts du Grütli by the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights saw a phone discussion with the famous American death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal – 15 minutes live from death row.

“ It was a very moving moment live from death row,” a member of the audience said. “Thanks for the privilege we had to discuss with him,” another person added. The emotion was palpable among the public.
“Mumia doesn’t feel like a symbol of the anti-death penalty campaign,” said Robert Bryan. Today, Barack Obama can make the difference, he continued, referring to a petition to the US president already signed by 17,000 people.
According to Bryan, the death penalty is a privilege reser…

Final Declaration 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty

We the participants at the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 24 to 26 February 2010 organized by the association Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM), with sponsorship from the Swiss Confederation in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP),

adopt this declaration after three days of fruitful discussions, exchange of experiences, elaboration of relevant strategies, sharing of testimonies, including the commitment and strong support expressed from states and international institutions:

Noting with satisfaction the implementation of several recommendations made at the end of the 3rd World Congress in Paris in 2007; the increasing number of countries that have ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from 62 to 72; the resolution for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty passed twice by majority in the United Nations General Assembly with more than …

Executions in Iran: Nabi Dadtajik Can’t Afford ‘Blood Money’

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Iranian human rights attorney Mohammad Mostafaei’s client, a young Afghan [-Iranian] man named Nabi Dadtajik, was sentenced to death in 2005 for manslaughter. He killed a man (unintentionally) in a fight, most probably over a girl in Dadtajik’s family that he was interested in. Mohammad Mostafaei (pictured) was assigned to the case last year.

When Mostafaei became his lawyer, he tried to gain forgiveness from the victim’s family to spare Dadtajik’s life. Now, the victim’s family have forgiven Dadtajik, under the condition that they receive blood money for the approximate amount of $15,000 USD.

Mostafaei has yet to raise the $15,000. Unfortunately, Dadtajik’s family cannot afford to pay the $15,000. Mostafaei needs to raise this money before Dadtajik’s life is spared.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

At a time when momentum is gathering across the world to abolish capital punishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) currently ranks second for number of executions, after China, and first for p…

Death row Briton to launch last-ditch appeal

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A British grandmother on death row is to lodge a last-ditch appeal with the US Supreme Court in a bid to save her life.

Linda Carty (left) was convicted in 2002 over the abduction and murder of a 25-year-old woman after a trial which campaigners say was "catastrophically flawed".

A video plea on behalf of the 51-year-old will be submitted to the Supreme Court alongside the appeal from her legal team and an brief from the British Government. If it fails, Carty could be executed within months.

Carty was convicted over the kidnap and murder of Joana Rodriguez, who was seized alongside her four-day-old son by three men on 16 May 2001.

The baby was later found unharmed in a car, but Rodriguez was killed, having suffocated with duct-tape over her mouth and a plastic bag placed around her head.

Prosecutors argued that the men were hired by Carty who, unable to get pregnant herself, intended to "cut the baby out" of the woman and pass it off as her own.

Carty has always maintain…

Iran: Jundullah Leader's Brother Executed

February 24, 2010: Iran executed Jundullah terrorist organisation leader Abdolmalek Rigi's brother Abdulkhamid Rigi for several crimes including murdering several people, including policemen and their families, the source reported.

The death sentence imposed a few months ago had been postponed.

The Jundullah terrorist group, known as the Rigi group, has conducted a series of deadly terrorist acts in eastern Iran.

The group, led by Abdolmalek Rigi, claimed responsibility for an attack that killed over 40 people, including five senior commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

Source: Day.Az, Feb. 24, 2010

Uganda's gays fight back

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Activists to petition government to scrap Anti-Homosexuality Bill and instead decriminalize gay sex.

KAMPALA, Uganda — Even as Uganda’s parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill — which calls for the death penalty for some gay acts — a group of about 100 Ugandan gays and lesbians held a secret meeting to determine how to stand up for their rights.

The clandestine conference was held in a hotel function room in downtown Kampala last week and was titled “Standing on the side of Love, Re-imagining Valentine’s Day.”

Organized by the Rev. Mark Kiyimba of the Ugandan Unitarian Universalist Church, and financially supported by the Austria Foundation, the meeting was a strategy session to discuss how to respond to the bill. The participants resolved to petition the Ugandan Speaker of Parliament to scrap the bill and to instead move to decriminalize homosexuality.

“Our conference showed that religion does not need to be an enemy to the cause of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] …

Death row inmate gets new punishment hearing

Charles Dean Hood, the death row inmate whose case has drawn national attention because of a relationship between the presiding judge and prosecutor at his trial, has been granted a new punishment hearing by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The new hearing was not ordered because of the acknowledged relationship, but because the court ruled that the jury was not given proper instructions on how to consider Hood's background when determining his punishment.

Hood's attorneys claimed that Hood didn't deserve death because he suffered from mitigating circumstances, which included learning disabilities and abuse as a child, including being beaten with a pipe, and that these things resulted in his poor "impulse control."

Hood, 40, was convicted in 1990 of murder in the shooting deaths of Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace at Williamson's home in Plano. Hood had lived at the house and worked for Williamson.

Julie Wallace, Wallace's sister, was resigned to…

World Coalition Delivers 90,000 Signatures Against Juvenile Executions

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A morning with the World Coalition in Paris. Activists preparing to visit the Embassies of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen in order to hand over more than 90,000 signatures on the petition demanding the complete stop of juvenile executions. Three of these countries have ratified the convention on the rights of the child, but do not follow it. The Iranian Embassy refused to accept the petitions. However it will be mailed directly to the authorities in Teheran.

Source: Texas Death Penalty Blog, Feb. 24, 2010

Bali Nine: Rush was a courier, not an organiser, lawyer says

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IN a last-ditch attempt to overturn the death penalty, Scott Rush's lawyers will call on three witnesses to give evidence in the Bali Nine inmate's final appeal in the Indonesian Supreme Court late next month.

Rush (pictured), 24, will be the first to lodge his appeal, ahead of fellow Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, also facing death for their part in a plot to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia in 2005.

Mr Khuana outlined the arguments he would use to try to save Rush from execution, saying Rush was a courier, not an organiser, did not technically export the drugs, and that the judges failed to read all the facts and did not differentiate between the cases.

He will argue that Rush was one of six of the Bali Nine classified as drug couriers, while three were "organisers", including Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, "the recruiter", whose death sentence was commuted to life in 2008.

"We will argue this is not fair, that it is a mistake. …

Cuba: death of political prisoner after prolonged hunger strike

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuban President Raul Castro said Wednesday he regretted the death of a prisoner after a prolonged hunger strike, even as human rights activists reported 30 people were detained on the way to the dissident's funeral.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who was jailed in 2003 in a crackdown on political opposition, died Tuesday after a hunger strike that lasted for more than 80 days. He began the strike to demand better prison conditions.

According to an unprecedented government statement, Castro "lamented the death of Cuban prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died after leading a hunger strike." He blamed the United States for the death, but did not explain why.

"Tortured people do not exist," Castro added. "There were no tortured people. There was no execution."

Separately, about 30 Cuban dissidents were detained Wednesday and dozens of others were blocked from leaving their homes, human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said.

"All of this to …

Europeans step up pressure for global halt to death penalty

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European countries on Wednesday stepped up pressure for a global halt to the death penalty, as opponents of capital punishment hailed the growing number of countries scrapping or suspending executions.

The United Nations and participants in the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva said about 140 countries had now abolished death sentences or stopped carrying them out under a moratorium.

"More than 2/3 of the United Nations member states abolished the death penalty, by law or in practice," Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero of Spain, which holds the presidency of the European Union, told the congress.

2 decades ago the list included just about 50 countries.

"The balance has tipped and the speed has been extraordinary, we have seen a grand global change," said Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Gry Larsen.

But concern was focused on the countries that account for about 93 % of executions between them, according to Amnesty International -- China, Iran, Saudi A…

Court throws out death penalty for Texas man

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the death sentence Wednesday of a convicted killer whose case has been dogged by admissions of an affair between his trial judge and the prosecutor.

The court, in a split decision, said Charles Dean Hood was entitled to a new punishment trial because jurors were not allowed to properly consider mitigating evidence that could have convinced them he didn't deserve a death sentence.

The ruling made no mention of the affair between Hood's trial judge and prosecutor in Collin County in suburban Dallas. Last year, the same court refused Hood's appeal for an entire new trial because of the affair admission.

Hood, 40, a former topless club bouncer, insists he's innocent in the 1989 fatal shootings of Tracie Lynn Wallace, 26, and her boyfriend, Ronald Williamson, 46, at their home in Plano.

A day before he was scheduled to die in September 2008, the Austin-based appeals court gave Hood a reprieve based on the faulty jury instruction cla…

Questions of an Affair Tainting a Trial

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Charles Dean Hood was sentenced to death in 1990 by a Texas judge who had been sleeping with the prosecutor in his case. It took Mr. Hood almost 20 years to establish that fact.

But he finally managed to force the two officials to testify about their rumored affair in the fall of 2008. They admitted it.

Texas’s highest court for criminal matters, its Court of Criminal Appeals, considered all of this and concluded that Mr. Hood should be executed anyway. In a 6-to-3 decision in September, the court told Mr. Hood that he had taken too long to raise the issue of whether a love affair between a judge and a prosecutor amounted to a conflict of interest.

Mr. Hood has asked the United States Supreme Court to hear his case. On Thursday, 21 former judges and prosecutors filed a brief supporting him. So did 30 experts in legal ethics.

Click here to read this feature in full.

Source: The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2010 - Photo: Charles Dean Hood, left, was convicted of murder in 1990 and sentenced to …

Acquitted Death Row inmate files $360M suit

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A Chicago man acquitted of murder after spending more than 17 years in prison filed a federal lawsuit Monday that seeks more than $360 million dollars from those who allegedly falsely imprisoned him.

Nathson E. Fields claims he spent 17 years and 11 months in prison after being falsely arrested, indicted and convicted for the April 28, 1984, shooting deaths of Talman Hickman and Jerome Smith on the 700 block of East 39th Street. He was acquitted of the murders on April 8, 2009, following a retrial, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court.

Fields is a former high-ranking gang member for the El Rukn street gang, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The suit lists 38 defendants, including the City of Chicago, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, former and current Chicago Police superintendents, former and current Chicago Police officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, Cook County, the Cook County State's Attorney's office, former and current Cook County state's attorneys, f…

The Death Penalty in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) today released a special edition for the 4th Congress against the death penalty, a report on the death penalty in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, entitled "The Death Penalty in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."

As 1,700 abolitionists from over 100 countries gather in Geneva for the 4th World Congress against the Death Penalty, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (CVHR) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) express their opposition to the use of this inhuman and degrading punishment and call upon Vietnam to implement an immediate moratorium as a 1st step to abolishing the death penalty. In Vietnam, statistics on capital punishment are classified State secrets."

The State-controlled media has reported 11 death sentences since January 2010, and 58 death sentences in 2009, 14 of them for drug offences. However, the real figures are much higher. Peaceful dissent is punishable by death under vaguely-…

Japan: Lay judges to hear murder case with possibility of death sentence

The trial of a murder-robbery case started at the Tottori District Court on Tuesday, and prosecutors may possibly seek the death sentence under the lay judge system for the 1st time.

The 55-year-old defendant, Hiroshi Kageyama, is accused of killing Hideo Ishitani, 82, and Ishitani's cohabiter Masako Omori, 74, in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, on Feb 21 last year and stealing 70,000 yen in cash, according to the indictment. Kageyama worked at Ishitanis accounting office.

Kageyama admitted to the killings but said robbery was not the motive, denying part of the indictment at the first hearing.

It is the 1st time for a murder-robbery case involving more than 1 victim to be examined by citizen judges since the 1st lay judge trial was held in Tokyo last August.

The statutory penalty for murder-robbery is capital punishment or life imprisonment.

4 men and 2 women were chosen as lay judges and 2 men and 2 women as their substitutes. The verdict will be handed down on March 2.

Source: Japan Toda…

Save Linda Carty

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British grandmother Linda Carty (pictured) was wrongfully sentenced to death by a Texan court and is now dangerously close to execution. Please watch this video about her disastrous case - and find out how you can help save her life.
Who is Linda Carty?
After a catastrophically flawed trial, Linda Carty was sentenced to death in February 2002 and faces execution within months. She desperately needs your help.
* Watch a video featuring Linda, her family and lawyers explaining what went wrong in her case * Listen to Linda's appeal to the British people * Watch Reprieve's Clare Algar talk about Linda's case on Sky * Look back at Linda's case history
Why is Linda Carty on death row?
Linda would certainly not be on death row today if she had had a decent defence lawyer at trial. Her story is a damning indictment of the Texas justice system, and exposes the perils of being poor and vulnerable in the USA.
Linda was born on 5 October 1958 on the Caribbean island of St Kitts to Anguilla…

USA: The Other Death Penalty Project Announces Letter-Writing Campaign to Anti-Death Penalty Groups

Today, thousands of prisoners around the country will be mailing letters to numerous death penalty abolitionist groups asking them to stop advocating for life without the possibility of parole as a supposedly humane alternative to lethal injection.
The Other Death Penalty Project, a group comprised solely of prisoners serving life without possibility of parole -- the other death penalty -- categorically rejects this hypocritical position taken by too many death penalty abolitionists. Death at the hands of the state, whether by lethal injection or lethal imprisonment, is the death penalty.
The Other Death Penalty Project, similarly, rejects the proposition that life without the possibility of parole is a necessary 1st step toward ultimate abolition of the death penalty. The distinction is one of method, not kind. Instead of moving to the elimination of death sentences, this tactic of trading slow executions for quick executions has resulted in an explosion of men and women sentenced to t…

Belarus on its own way towards capital punishment ban

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Belarus will seek its own way to cancel capital punishment. The statement was made by Nikolai Samoseiko, Chairman of the Legislation and Court Affairs Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, head of the parliamentary ad hoc group on capital punishment matters, on 22 February.
The MP said that the ad hoc group is supposed to find Belarus' indigenous way to deal with the capital punishment ban due to the country's geopolitical location. On the one side Belarus is bordered by the European Union where all the countries have banned capital punishment. On the other side there is China, the leader in the number of issued death penalties, and Russia which has vetoed capital punishment but the general public is ambiguous about it.
According to the MP, Belarus is now ripe to discuss whether it needs death penalties. There are strong pro and con arguments. In particular, those in favor believe that the possibility of death penalty can prevent crimes while those…

North Carolina: man exonerated after 17 years in jail

February 17, 2010: The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission frees Gregory Taylor, 47, white, who was sentenced to life in 1993 for 1st degree homicide.
In an historic decision, a panel of judges outside of the state's court system unanimously voted to exonerate and release Gregory Taylor, a man who was imprisoned for nearly 17 years for first-degree murder.
In April 1993, Taylor was convicted of the 1991 murder of Jacquetta Thomas, 27, black, a prostitute found dead in Raleigh. Police arrested Taylor after finding his SUV about 100 yards from the crime scene, even though there was never any physical evidence linking Taylor to the victim.
Taylor became the first person in the state to be exonerated by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only state-run agency in the United States with the power to overturn convictions based on claims of innocence. Earlier, the eight-member Commission had voted unanimously to send Taylor's case to the next level of review be…

U.S.: Doctors who aid in executions unlikely to face sanctions

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Capital punishment opponents want medical boards to punish these physicians, but a new study finds that boards do not have the legal power to intervene.
No U.S. medical board has disciplined a doctor for taking part in an execution, and that is unlikely to change, according to a new legal study.
The study, published in January in the Federation of State Medical Boards' Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline, is believed to be the first to comprehensively review all state laws and regulations on doctors, medical boards and executions. The study found that only seven death-penalty states incorporate the American Medical Association's ethics code, which, among other things, bars physician participation in executions.
Nearly all capital punishment states specifically call for doctors to be involved in some way, the study said.
"There is this perception that many people, including judges, have that because of the AMA ethical code, doctors can't participate and won't p…

United Arab Emirates: Call for more information on the death penalty

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In the past month, at least 8 men have been sentenced to die in the UAE; 1 for the rape and murder of a 4-year-old, 2 for killing a sales executive in an airport car park, and 5 for trafficking drugs.
But as these eight men proceed through the justice system and the courts consider their appeals, a survey reveals an appetite in the UAE for more transparency about the death sentence, the ultimate sanction available to the courts and about which little is known.
The survey reveals some reservations about capital punishment. Although only 6 % of respondents think it is applied too readily, just 23 % believe it is applied only in the right circumstances. And 21 % think it is handed down more frequently to people from certain countries.
More than twice as many Emiratis (34 %) as any other group believe that capital punishment is not used often enough, a view less common among Arab expatriates (14 %), westerners (12 %) and Asians (12 %).
However, twice as many westerners (12 %) as any other gro…

Three hanged in Iran

3 men were hanged in 2 different Iranian cities on Saturday February 20.
According to the Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan, 2 men identified as Abdollah A. (43) and Mehdi S. (36) were hanged in the prison of Isfahan early Saturday morning. They were both convicted of drug trafficking.
Kayhan also reported that another man identified as Dadollah Moradzadeh was hanged in the prison of Zahedan (southeastern Iran) at 11 am Saturday morning. He was also convicted of drug trafficking according to the report.
Source: Iran Human Rights, Feb. 22, 2010

Condemned Duo Scheduled For Lethal Injection One Day Apart

Two condemned Hunt County killers have been given execution dates. Kevin Scott Varga and Billy John Galloway, both 39, are scheduled to die by lethal injection within one day of each other this May, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Varga and Galloway were convicted in the 1998 beating death of a man while they robbed him for his wallet and rental car. Prosecutors said the duo and one other person beat the victim with their fists, feet, a hammer and a tree limb—killing him.
They were arrested during a routine traffic stop in San Antonio in the victim’s rented vehicle.
Varga, a former construction worker, was originally from Michigan and had a 6th grade education, according to TDCJ records. Prior to the capital murder conviction, Varga spent 13 years in a South Dakota prison for two separate sentences of burglary and grand theft.
Prior to this sentence Galloway also spent time in the South Dakota Department of Corrections for grand theft, parole violations and attempt…

Behnoud Shojaee’s Lawyer Sentenced to One Year in Prison

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Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced human rights lawyer Mohammad Oliyaifard (left) to a one year prison term under the charge of “propaganda against the system” for objecting to the execution of young offenders. Oliyaifard is well known for taking on pro bono child execution cases, and he is one of the lawyer’s who was assigned to the case of executed child offender Behnoud Shojaee (Mohammad Mostafaei was the other lawyer).
Three meetings were held in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court to discuss Mohammad Oliyaifard’s case. In the first meeting, Oliyaifard filed an appeal that was not accepted by the court.
Afterwards, Mohammad Oliyaifard also met with the judiciary who explained to him that they don’t ”execute,” they ”retribute” [The term retribute is most likely used in the context that the regime is collecting the lives of those sentenced to execution as just payment for punishable crimes].
At the United Nations gathering in Geneva on February 15, 2010, delegates from the Islam…

Saudi Arabia: 6th execution in 2010

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February 17, 2010: Saudi Arabian man Ahmed al-Anzi was beheaded by the sword in the northern province of Al-Jawf, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
He allegedly stabbed Ahmed al-Sharari to death in a fight.
It was the sixth execution announced in 2010.
Source: Agence France Presse, Feb. 17, 2010

Getting to know your death row inmate

Andrea D. Lyon would like to acquaint you with the kinds of people who face the death penalty.
Lyon, who handled 136 murder cases, many of them as a Cook County public defender, thinks people charged in capital cases too often are portrayed as inhuman. To add some insight into who they are, as well as to tell her own story, she wrote Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer (Kaplan, $24.94).
A theme throughout her memoir is her repeated discovery that the stories behind even brutal crimes can be more complex than they at first appear.
“People are a product of a lot of different forces, and they end up where they end up for a lot of different reasons,” Lyon said.
In Angel of Death Row, Lyon, who now is associate dean for clinical programs at the DePaul University College of Law, revisits memorable cases she handled while working in Cook County and later while on the faculty at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In each case, as she investigates the backgrounds of…

Ohio: 8 executions on tap and counting

All you crooks might want to think twice before bumping somebody off in Ohio.
Because the state now has a proven method for putting murderers to death quickly and seemingly without pain and a long line of death row inmates waiting to make the trip to Lucasville for their special meals and last words.
Executions are currently scheduled through October after the Ohio Supreme Courts recent decisions in several cases. On Friday, justices set Oct. 6 for the execution of Michael Benge, convicted in the 1993 murder of his girlfriend in Butler County.
Granted, we're no Texas. Yet. That state accounts for 449 of the 1,195 inmates executed in the United States since 1976, according to statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center (online at http://www.deatpenaltyinfo.org/).
Our once-a-month execution schedule won't match the 24 executions in the Lone Star State last year.
Ohio has put 35 inmates to death since 1999, including last month's execution of Mark Aaron Brown, convi…

Australia: Rudd government restates its opposition to the death penalty

The Rudd government has restated its opposition to the death penalty, after Tony Abbott said it could be justified in some cases.
The opposition leader said execution was the only fitting sentence for some mass murderers, like terrorists, but had no plans to reintroduce the death penalty.
"I have always been against the death penalty," Mr Abbott said.
"(But) There are some crimes so horrific that maybe that's the only way to adequately convey the horror of what's been done," he said, adding that any policy change would happen with a conscience vote.
The Rudd government says it has no plans to change its policy.
"Successive Australian governments have maintained a long-standing policy of opposition to the death penalty," Attorney-General Robert McClelland said in a statement on Saturday.
"Australia is also a party to (international protocols that) requires all necessary measures be taken to ensure that no one is subject to the death penalty."
La…