Posts

Showing posts from May, 2010

FEATURED POST

Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

Image
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…

Islamic Foundation calls for death sentence if apostate fails to repent

The Islamic Foundation has called for self-declared apostate Mohamed Nazim to be stripped of his citizenship and sentenced to death if he does not repent and return to Islam.
Nazim claimed he was "Maldivian and not a Muslim" during a public question-and-answer session with Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, the first time a Maldivian has publicly announced he is not a Muslim.
According to the Maldivian constitution all citizens are required to be Muslim, and the country is always described as a "100 %" Muslim country.
The 37 year-old angered many in the approximately 11,000-strong crowd with his statement during Dr Naik's 'Misconceptions about Islam' lecture on Friday.
Dr Naik responded that Nazim had read the wrong books and "deviated from Islam", and requested him "to read correct books on Islam, and Inshallah, you'll come back to Islam."
However Nazim did not relinquish the microphone and pressed Naik to clarify the penalty for apostas…

New China rules rule out torture in confessions

Embarrassed by a murder victim who turned up a decade after his "killer" was convicted, China's security and judicial authorities issued rules on Sunday to make it harder to convict suspects based on confessions secured under duress.
Under China's current system, confessions play a strong role in convictions and suspects have little access to lawyers or any other protection while in police custody. Suspects can be detained for some time before being formally arrested or charged.
2 new regulations set out procedures for assessing evidence in cases subject to the death penalty, and for excluding evidence obtained under duress, according to an announcemnt on the central government website.
Testimony taken under violence or threat and evidence from unamed sources must be excluded, and defendents may request an investigation into whether their testimony was obtained illegally, the new regulations state.
If the investigation is approved, prosecutors must provide the court with…

India: Delay in hanging leads to reduced sentences

New Delhi: The government may be unwittingly entitling condemned prisoners - including Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru - to a lesser life sentence by delaying decisions on their mercy pleas, Supreme Court rulings suggest.
The apex court has repeatedly held that excessive delay in executing the death penalty, leaving the condemned prisoner to suffer a "dehumanising effect" of "facing the agony of alternating between hope and despair" renders the capital punishment too inhuman to be inflicted, thus entitling the prisoner to the lesser sentence of life term.
The court rulings assume significance in view of the fact that Guru, who was sent to the gallows by a trial court in December 2002, recently moved the apex court seeking an early decision on his mercy plea.
"It seems to us that the extremely excessive delay in the disposal of the case of the appellant (a condemned prisoner) would by itself be sufficient for imposing a lesser sentence of imprisonmen…

Provincial legislator gets death sentence with reprieve for corruption

TIANJIN, May 28 (Xinhua) -- A former senior legislator in northeast China's Jilin Province, Mi Fengjun, was sentenced Friday to death with a two-year reprieve for accepting bribes.
Mi, former vice chairman of the Jilin Provincial People's Congress Standing Committee, was convicted of having accepted bribes worth more than 6.28 million yuan (919,258 U.S. dollars), a verdict handed down by the Tianjin Municipal No.1 Intermediate People's Court said.
The ruling also included the confiscation of all of Mi's personal assets and the lifetime deprivation of his political rights.
According to the court, Mi took bribes from people and institutions who sought to benefit from his influence after he took various senior posts both in Jilin and it capital city, Changchun, between February 1992 and February 2008.
Since he surrendered most of the illicit gains, the sentence was lighter than it would have otherwise been, the court said.
Mi was removed from his post and expelled from the Com…

Bali Nine: Has Scott Rush converted to Islam?

Image
THE death-row inmate and Bali nine drug courier Scott Rush (pictured) has been circumcised by a man who snuck in to Bali's Kerobokan jail and covertly performed the operation in an Islamic prayer room.
The procedure, performed on Friday, is commonly part of the ritual when a person converts to Islam, although the religious orientation of Rush - who has previously professed to be a Christian - could not be established last night.
Agus Hartawan, Kerobokan's medical officer, confirmed the circumcision in a telephone interview yesterday as he was examining Rush in his prison clinic.
''The wound is healing properly and he is doing fine,'' Dr Hartawan said.
He then passed the phone to Rush, who, when asked if he had converted to Islam, said ''No comment'', adding he would be making no further statements.
Even so, the Herald understands Rush has been given the Islamic name Suleiman, and has been spending a lot of time in the past two weeks with a small grou…

US hopes Malawi gay pardon sends message 'around the globe'

Image
Washington - The White House Saturday said it was "pleased" to hear that a gay couple in Malawi had been pardoned from a long prison sentence and hoped the decision would open new dialogue and send a global message.
In a statement, the White House press secretary was reacting to the decision by Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika to grant the pardon, which came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the country.
The couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, (pictured) had been sentenced to 14 years in prison after they openly celebrated their engagement. Homosexual acts are banned in the southern African country.
"We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe," the White House said.
The White House called for a renewed commitment to "ending the persecution and…

Saudi Arabia: Five convicts to appeal death penalty verdict

QATIF: The relatives of five people who have been sentenced to death for murdering a Saudi youth in Qatif are to appeal the verdict.
The men, who strangled the youth after luring him to a rural location pretending he would meet a young woman there, have 30 days to appeal the verdict, Al-Yaum newspaper reported. A relative of one of the convicts said the murder was unintentional and that only one of the five men was responsible.
“They did not plan to kill him but only rob him. They had been in contact with the victim via mobile phone for around a month and had pretended they were women,” he said.
Having arrived at the location, the young man was met by two men dressed as women. They then drove to a remote location.
“One of the attackers was sitting on the front seat near the driver while the second was sitting on the back seat behind him.
“The two men then attempted to strangle him. When they saw him faint, they took him to the emergency section of a nearby hospital. The hospital, however,…

Afghan citizen hanged in central Iran

One man was hanged in the prison of Isfahan (central Iran) early this morning.
Quoting Isfahan judiciary’s public relations, "Isfahan Metropolis News agency" (IMNA) reported that an Afghan citisen identified as Nour Jamal S. (26) was hanged in the prison of Isfahan early this morning. The man was convicted of smugling 1,385 kg of crack according to the report.
Afghan civil society has in the recent months protested several times against execution of Afghans in Iran. The protests started after unofficial reports on execution of 45 Afghan prisoners in 3 days in March 2010.
Source: Iran Human Rights, May 29, 2010

Ecuador: Indian town drops death penalty in murder case

An Indian community that sentenced a young man to death by hanging for the murder of another man softened his punishment Sunday, ordering him to do five years of community service instead.
Orlando Quishpe, 21, was also subjected to punishments that included carrying a heavy sack of dirt, an ice-water bath and a public whipping with a thorny plant while he was forced to beg forgiveness.
Ecuador's attorney general had threatened legal action against the community after it ordered Quishpe's execution last week, because the South American nation does not allow the death penalty.
The Indians refused the government's request that the suspect be handed over to the regular courts. Ecuador's constitution recognizes indigenous justice as long as it does not violate the charter or human rights.
An assembly of residents in La Cocha, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) from the capital, debated for 6 hours Sunday and dropped the death penalty.
They decided Quishpe will carry out "5 year…

Taiwan: Legality of capital punishment upheld

DEATH ROW: Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu said there was no timetable for carrying out executions, although a plan to prioritize them was under consideration
The Justices of the Constitutional Court rejected a petition yesterday aimed at halting plans to execute the 40 inmates that remain on death row.
"The defendants are given the opportunity to defend and express themselves during the trial process ... There is no violation of the Constitution in the convictions," the Constitutional Court said in a statement.
"The request to suspend the executions is dismissed, as the court declines to review the case," the court said.
"Execution of the death row prisoners does not violate the two United Nations covenants that Taiwan has signed," the court said, in a reference to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The covenants were passed by the legislature on March 31 last year…

Death Penalty Dashes Migrant Workers’ Hopes

MANILA, May 11, 2010 (IPS) - Every day some 4,500 Filipinos leave their homeland in search of the proverbial green pastures. But some of them end up facing death instead.
Jakatia Pawa, 33, a mother of two working as a domestic helper in Kuwait, was convicted of killing her employer’s daughter despite the lack of evidence linking her to the alleged crime. She currently faces a death sentence in Kuwait.
Joselito Zapanta, 30, who works as a tile setter in Riyadh, claims he fought back when he was beaten by his Sudanese landlord. Early this year, the father of two was sentenced to death for the alleged accidental killing of his employer.
These are just two of the cases of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row that have been documented by Migrante International, the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organisations, which claims that the plight of OFWs has gotten worse.
"Some cases have recently been commuted to life imprisonment, but there are roughly about 60 Filipinos on death…

"Measure for Measure" - On Justice, Law and The Death Penalty

Now, as fond fathers,
Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not to use, in time the rod
Becomes more mocked than feared; so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.
Measure for Measure, 1. 3

We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.
Measure for Measure, 2. 1

Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?
Measure for Measure, 2. 2

No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
Measure for Measure, 2. 2

The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.
Measure for Measure, 2. 2

O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is …

Texas: Jury gives Milam death sentence

Image
Labeled by prosecutors as a “monster” who deserves “the ultimate penalty,” convicted murderer Blaine Keith Milam (left) was sentenced late Thursday night to die by lethal injection for his role in the beating death of his girlfriend’s daughter.
Milam, 20, was convicted of capital murder May 17 for killing 13-month-old Amora Carson, the daughter of his girlfriend, Jessica Carson.
Amora Carson died from blunt-force trauma inflicted on her Dec. 2, 2008. Milam and Jessica Carson, both of Rusk County, said they repeatedly struck the toddler with an unknown object in an attempt to remove demons from the child during an exorcism. An expert during the trial said 23 of 24 bite marks found on Amora Carson’s body belonged to Milam.
Jessica Carson is in the Rusk County Jail awaiting her trial. Milam’s trial had been moved to the Montgomery County Courthouse from Rusk County because of pretrial publicity.
The six-woman, six-man jury deliberated more than eight hours Thursday before unanimously decidin…

Mauritania: 3 members of a Mauritanian armed group sentenced to death for the murder of French tourists

URGENT ACTION APPEAL from Amnesty International
Three members of a Mauritanian armed group have been sentenced to death for the 2007 murder of four French tourists. Mauritania has not carried out any executions since 1987.
The three Mauritanian men, Sidi Ould Sidna, Maarouf Ould Haiba and Mohamed Ould Chabarnou, were sentenced to death on 25 May by the Criminal Court in the capital, Nouakchott. They had admitted to being members of the Islamist armed group Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In court, they denied killing the French tourists, and their lawyers protested constantly that the men had given statements under torture after they were arrested, in January 2008, and that these had been used as evidence against them during their trial. For details of Amnesty International’s concerns about torture of alleged Islamists, see the report Mauritania: torture at the heart of the State.
Amnesty International met the three men several times, during two research missions in Mauritania, w…

MESA "Iran Letter" on recent violations of academic rights and persecution of scholars and students in Iran

Letters on Iran
May 26, 2010
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran c/o H.E. Mohammad Khazaee Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017
Dear Ayatollah Khamenei,
I write you once again on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) to express our profound outrage at the recent death sentences and executions, as well as continued harassment, imprisonment, and expulsions targeting university faculty and administrators, teachers, and non-violent student activists in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, MESA publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has nearly 3000 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic fr…

Alabama executes Thomas Warren Whisenhant

Image
ATMORE, Ala. -- Murderer Thomas Warren Whisenhant's long stay on Alabama's death row ended this afternoon.
Whisenhant (left), 63, said nothing before he was injected with the cocktail of drugs that sapped the life from his body. A doctor pronounced him dead at 6:20 p.m.
The Prichard native died three days short of his 32nd anniversary on death row at Holman prison, where he was the longest-serving inmate on death row. He became the 241st prisoner executed in Alabama, and the first since Max Landon Payne was put to death in October.
Whisenhant was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Cheryl Lynn Payton, a Theodore convenience store clerk and mother of two, on Oct. 16, 1976. Payton was days away from her 24th birthday.
Whisenhant returned two days later to the field where he had left Payton to die and mutilated her body, removing a wristwatch that he gave to his wife as a present.
It was not Whisenhant's first act of violence. After his arrest, he confessed to killing tw…

China sentences Tibetan to suspended death sentence over 2008 riots

May 26, 2010: the Lhasa Intermediate People's Court in China sentenced Tibetan Sonam Tsering, 23, to a suspended death sentence, the India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
Tsering, who was born in Ganzi, allegedly rioted and led others to riot in 2008 by setting cars and shops on fire and overturning police vehicles.
The Center said Sonam Tsering is the seventh Tibetan so far to be sentenced to death for the riots, including two already executed.
Source: Associated Press, May 26, 2010

Utah judge to hear petition from death row inmate

A state judge on Thursday will hear a petition from a condemned inmate set to die by firing squad next month who wants his death sentence vacated.
Ronnie Lee Gardner wants 3rd District Judge Robin Reese to order a new sentencing hearing in the 25-year-old murder case.
In April, Reese signed the warrant that set Gardner's June 18 execution date.
Attorneys for Gardner contend that the state court must consider the mitigating evidence presented during a federal appeal of the case before putting Gardner to death.
The attorneys also contend that executing Gardner after 25 years on death row no societal purpose — neither retribution, nor deterrence — and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Gardner, 49, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die in 1985.
Source: Associated Press, May 27, 2010
Judge considers request to stay Ronnie Lee Gardner execution but declines to grant new sentencing hearing

A judge agreed Thursday to consider staying the scheduled June 18 execution date of …

Iran: 6 prisoners hanged in Rasht and Zahedan; 8 executions in past 4 days

Image
The Iranian regime hanged 6 prisoners in Rasht, northern Iran, and Zahedan, southeast Iran, to counter much feared nationwide protests in the current Iranian month of Khordad.
On Monday, May 24, 5 prisoners including a woman were hanged behind the medical center in Rasht prison. The regime has not yet reported the hangings.
Fars news agency, affiliated to the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC/Pasdaran) reported Wednesday, May 26, the execution of a prisoner in Zahedan identified as Jamshid M. He had only been arrested a month ago.
With the latest reports on hangings, the number of executions in past 4 days reaches 8 in Iran.
Rising number of executions, widespread arrest of young people under the cover of so called "social security plan," increasing suppression of women for "improper veiling" and other repressive measures on the brink of anniversary of the Iranian people’s courageous uprising, are aimed at intensifying the atmosphere of intimidation to p…