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Showing posts from June, 2014

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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…

La pena capital muere matando

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Los problemas recientes en varias ejecuciones en Estados Unidos han reabierto un debate nacional la aplicación de la pena de muerte. Las noticias sobre el sufrimiento de los condenados a muerte en sus últimos instantes de vida han escandalizado a la sociedad estadounidense y a medio mundo.
Estas dificultades llegan en un momento en el que la pena capital vive horas bajas. A las críticas habituales, se suman ahora las dudas sobre la capacidad de las cárceles de llevar a cabo los ajusticiamientos de una forma no cruel. Con la inyección letal, se creía haber alcanzado una forma indolora de ejecución, pero los últimos casos muestran lo contrario.
Cuando los datos sobre su uso y popularidad son los más bajos en cuatro décadas y cada vez más estados la han abolido, ¿asiste Estados Unidos a la muerte de la pena capital?
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Fuente: Adrià Calatayud, junio 2014

Florida: Gov. Scott stands strong on death penalty

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Scott has presided over 18 executions, including 13 in the last two years, the most executions carried out by any Florida governor in a single term since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s.
With another execution scheduled in 10 days, Scott has already exceeded the 15 executions carried out in Gov. Bob Graham's second term. Only Jeb Bush, who oversaw 21 executions in two terms over eight years, remains ahead of Scott.
Yet Scott, a lawyer and former health care executive, said the use of the death penalty was far from his focus when he ran and beat Alex Sink in closely fought race in 2010.
Shortly before the June 18 execution of John Henry, a Pasco County man who stabbed his wife and stepson to death in 1985, Scott described the death penalty as “a solemn duty of the governor.”
“It's not something I thought about when I was going to run,” Scott said. “But I uphold the laws of the land. When I think about the executions I think about the families, the stories of what…

Chloe Dewe Mathews's Shot at Dawn: a moving photographic memorial

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James Crozier was 16 when he presented himself at his local army recruiting office in Belfast in September 1914. He was accompanied by his mother, Elizabeth, who tried in vain to prevent him enlisting. The recruiting officer, who also happened to be called Crozier, assured her he would look out for her son and "would see that no harm comes to him".
Throughout the winter of 1915-16, Private James Crozier fought on the Somme in the 36th Ulster Division, 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. In early February 1916, he failed to report for sentry duty in the trenches near Serre on the Western Front. A week later, he was found wandering in a daze some distance behind the front line. An army doctor examined him and declared him fit in both mind and body and, on 14 February 1916, he was court-martialled for desertion. James Crozier defended himself, saying that he had not known what he was doing when he went absent and had been wracked with pains throughout his body. He was sentenced …

Defending the indefensible? Lawyers on representing clients accused of nightmarish crimes

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John Henry Browne, 67, has been practising law for 43 years. Based in Seattle, Washington, he has defended high-profile mass murderers, including serial killer Ted Bundy, who sowed fear across the US in the 1970s, and Robert Bales, an army sergeant who massacred 16 Afghan civilians in 2011.
I usually have some emotional engagement with clients, but Ted Bundy was a perfect example of someone born evil. I had no compassion for him. But I did want to save him from the death penalty. He was at times smart and handsome. To sit down and talk to him, you would think he was normal. He acted very well. Totally manipulative.
Ted told me one time that in junior high school he would put white mice into this little corral. He would sit there and figure out which ones he would save and which ones he would kill. It was the same with women. Control was his thing. But Ted did tell me something that showed he was 2% not sociopath. He said, "John, I want to be a good person, I'm just not."
H…

Amnesty condemns secret execution of death row prisoner in Japan

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The Japanese authorities' determination to continue with secret executions despite growing concerns on the use of the death penalty in the country is a scar on the justice system, says Amnesty International.
Masanori Kawasaki, who was convicted in 2008 of the murder of three relatives, was hanged early this morning (26 June) at Osaka detention centre.
The execution is the 1st since a court ordered the immediate release in March of Hakamada Iwao, who spent more than 4 decades on death row after an unfair trial. Prosecutors have appealed the decision to grant Hakamada a retrial, despite the court stating police were likely to have fabricated evidence.
The execution - the 1st in 2014 - is the 9th since Prime Minister Abe's government took office in December 2012. In February, a group of former lay judges urged the Minister of Justice to halt executions until there is greater transparency in the use of capital punishment. In Japan, the Justice Minister must authorise executions be…

Bali Nine drug courier and former death row inmate Scott Rush getting married to London banker

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BALI Nine drug courier Scott Rush has fallen in love, is getting married to a London banker and has begun turning his life around behind bars in Bali.
And behind his stunning transformation from drug addict to model prisoner is mum of two Nikki Butler, whom he met briefly before his arrest in 2005.
Scott Rush’s marriage proposal this month was unconventional. He got down on one knee, separated by the bars of the jail visiting area. “Nikki, I love you and you love me. I think we can have a happy ending. Will you marry me?”
The pair shared their extraordinary love story last month when News Corp Australia visited Rush in his Bali jail at Karangesem, where he was happy and excited about his new life and his clear-eyed appearance was in stark contrast to earlier visits.
Ms Butler spoke from her home in London, where she works in the legal team of a large investment bank.
The 28-year-old Rush has long battled the temptation of drugs behind bars but says he trying hard to clean up his act …

Ghana referendum will abolish death sentence, weaken President's war powers

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Ghanaians would soon be called upon to decide in a referendum on the three critical reviews of portions of the 1992 constitution which are abolition of the death penalty, declaration of war by the President and the swearing-in of the President before parliament by the chief Justice.

The proposed amendments will replace the death penalty with life imprisonment whilst the declaration of war by the President will be subjected to parliamentary approval within 72 hours with two-thirds majority endorsing and that the President, under certain circumstances, should be sworn-in anywhere not before Parliament but by a high court judge.

Mrs. Estelle Appiah, a member of the Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC), said this at the Central Regional edition of CRIC's regional stakeholder briefing on the recommendations for amendments of the constitution held at Elmina.

Mrs. Appiah said the referendum would be held alongside the local and district assembly elections to cu…

U.N. appeals to Iran not to execute woman for crime as a teenager

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The U.N. human rights chief appealed to Iran on Thursday not to execute a woman convicted of murdering her husband at age 17.

Razieh Ebrahimi, imprisoned in Ahwaz, is among some 160 people thought to be on death row in Iran for crimes committed before they turned 18, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

More than 250 people are believed to have been executed in Iran this year, Pillay said.

"The imminent execution of Razieh Ebrahimi has once again brought into stark focus the unacceptable use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders in Iran," she said.

Ebrahimi was married at 14 and gave birth to a child a year later. She says that her husband subjected her to domestic violence, according to the statement. She was arrested in 2010.

"Regardless of the circumstances of the crime, the execution of juvenile offenders is clearly prohibited by international human rights law," said Pillay, a former international judge.

Hawai: Jury declines death penalty, Naeem Williams sentenced to life in prison

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Naeem Williams will not die for the violent killing of his daughter, a federal jury announced on Friday. The former Schofield soldier is instead sentenced to life in prison.

During the trial, which ended in April when a jury found him guilty of the murder, Williams admitted to beating 5-year-old Talia Williams every day for months after gaining custody of the girl.

It was the 1st time in decades that a Hawaii courtroom had hosted a death penalty trial. 
The same jury that convicted Williams had deemed him eligible for the death penalty, since the crime occurred on federal property. 
However, the jury of 7 men and 5 women were unable to reach a unanimous decision on the sentence of death or the the sentence of life without the possibility of parole, leaving the judge to impose the sentence.

"Naeem Williams will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Yes, justice has been served," said Florence Nakakuni, United States Attorney for t…

Missouri Death Row Inmate Seeks Independent Clemency Review

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - The next Missouri inmate scheduled to die by lethal injection wants Gov. Jay Nixon to appoint an independent panel to review his clemency request under a little-used provision in state law that hasn’t been invoked in nearly two decades.
John Middleton, 54, is scheduled to be executed July 16 at the state prison in Bonne Terre. The onetime methamphetamine dealer was convicted in the 1995 drug-related killings of three people in northern Missouri. His conviction in the Harrison County death of Iowa resident Alfred Pinegar was cited as an aggravating factor justifying the death sentences he received for the two subsequent murder convictions.
The petition for an independent Board of Inquiry argues that the governor cannot impartially rule on Middleton’s request to commute his death sentence since Nixon was the state’s attorney general for 16 years, including when Middleton stood trial.
That alternative is allowed under Missouri law but has been invoked rarely, most recen…

Florida: DNA evidence prompts court to overturn sentence

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly 30 years after Paul C. Hildwin was convicted of strangling a Hernando County woman, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday overturned both his conviction and death sentence, saying that new DNA evidence "completely discredits" the case used by the state.
A divided court ruled 5-2 that Hildwin should be given a new trial.
The new evidence instead points to the person that Hildwin said had done the crime all along - the victim's boyfriend who was sentenced in 1998 to 20 years for attempted sexual battery of a child.
"It's a wonderful day but a very long and overdue one," said Nina Morrison, a senior staff attorney with The Innocence Project working on the case. "It's taken us a decade to get him the justice he deserved."
Hildwin had been sentenced to die for killing 42-year-old Vronzettie Cox, whose nude body was found stuffed in the trunk of a car parked in some Hernando County woods in September 1985. She had been s…

Death row inmates sue Arizona over lethal-injection drugs

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A convicted murderer and 5 other death row inmates sued Arizona on Thursday arguing the state's secrecy around lethal-injection drugs used in botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma violates their constitutional rights.

Joseph Wood, a 55-year-old sentenced to die on July 23 for 2 murders in an auto-shop, and other prisoners argued in a complaint filed in an Arizona federal court that prison officials concealed information about their plans to use the sedative-painkiller combination midazolam and hydromorphone.

"The Arizona Department of Corrections has stonewalled requests for basic information about its lethal injection protocol and the drugs it plans to use to end Mr. Wood's life," his attorney, Dale Baich, said in a statement.

Attorneys in several U.S. states have argued that moves to keep hidden the identity and methods of lightly regulated pharmacies - to which they have turned to procure execution drugs in the face of sales bans - as well as details …

Saudi beheads two for raping minors

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Saudi authorities beheaded Wednesday two nationals convicted of raping minors in two separate cases, in one of which the culprit killed the victim, the interior ministry said.
HB was found guilty of kidnapping and raping a seven-year-old boy before throwing him into a well and killing him, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
HB was executed in Qassim province, north of Riyadh.
In the other case, IB was condemned of kidnapping and raping a minor, and attempting to kidnap another. He was executed in the northern Hail province.
The beheadings bring to 15 the number of death sentences carried out this year in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Saudi Arabia beheaded 78 people in 2013, according to an AFP count.
Last year, the UN High Commission for Human Rights denounced a "sharp increase in the use of capital punishment" there since 2011.
According to figures from rights group Amnesty International, the number of executions rose from 27 in 2010, in…

Japan hangs death-row inmate for fatally stabbing 3 people

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TOKYO — Japan carried out its first execution of the year on Thursday when it hanged a man for a triple murder, the ninth prisoner to be put to death since the conservative government of Shinzo Abe took power in 2012.
Masanori Kawasaki, 68, was convicted of stabbing three people to death—including a three-year-old girl—as they slept, after breaking into their house in Kagawa, western Japan, in 2007.
“It was an extremely cruel case,” Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki told reporters. “I ordered the execution after prudent consideration.”
Apart from the United States, Japan is the only major industrialised democracy to use capital punishment.
Surveys have shown the death penalty has overwhelming public support, despite repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.
The government did not execute anyone in 2011, the first full year in nearly two decades without an execution amid muted debate on the rights and wrongs of the practice.
But in March 2012, it abruptly …

Lethal lessons: State's execution procedures fall short, World review finds

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In a cramped, dimly lit room next to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s death chamber, three volunteer executioners push syringes full of lethal drugs into the veins of an inmate they cannot see.
Sometimes the executioners use flashlights to illuminate what they are doing in the drug room. While the three can hear what is said in the death chamber, they use a makeshift system to communicate with the warden, doctor or others in the room.
The executioners stick colored pencils through holes in the wall where two IV lines feed into the inmate’s body.
“If you saw red, there might be possible problems,” a deputy warden explained in a deposition.
The 2007 description of the chaotic scene in the state’s death chamber was documented as part of a legal challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal injection process.
“I use the flashlight to make sure that all the drugs are in the right order,” the deputy warden explained during his deposition.
The state’s failure to require executioners to monitor inmates du…

Meriam Ibrahim: Sudanese apostasy woman freed from death row is re-arrested at airport... and then released again

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Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, the Christian woman sentenced to death and later freed after an international outcry, was briefly re-arrested while trying to leave the country for the US before being released again.
Eman Abdul-Rahim, a lawyer representing Ms Ibrahim, said she had been held along with her two children and husband at the international airport in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. The BBC reported that Ms Ibrahim, whose death sentence in May for renouncing Islam sparked international outrage, was detained by around 40 security agents, but was then released again by Sudanese authorities.
That came 24 hours after her husband, Daniel Wani, who has US citizenship, had said the family would go to the US after his wife was released.
The 27-year-old, whose father was Muslim but who was raised by her Christian mother, was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian. Sudan’s penal code forbids Muslims from converting to other religions, a crime punishable by death.
Click here to read the full a…

Muammar Gaddafi's Son Charged with Murdering Soccer Teammate in Libya

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Saadi Gaddafi, 3rd son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has been charged with killing a former soccer teammate, according to Libya's state LANA news agency.

Gaddafi is being charged with the murder of Bashir Riani, a Libyan soccer player who played alongside Gaddafi when the latter played professionally. Xinhua notes that the charges are the 1st coming down from a Tripoli court since Gaddafi was extradited into Libya from Niger.

Gaddafi made his 1st court appearance since his extradition; he is pleading not guilty to this and all other charges, including several other murders, systematic rape, and sabotage. Many of these crimes are alleged to have occurred during his father's reign and the ensuing revolt to overthrow him. Iran's Fars news agency is reporting more details on those charges, which allegedly include personally shooting and killing several anti-Gaddafi protesters. The report notes that Gaddafi is one of many former regime figures facing t…

Japan: Death penalty in 2011 stalking case upheld

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The Fukuoka High Court upheld the death sentence Tuesday for a 29-year-old man over the killing of the mother and grandmother of a former girlfriend in a high-profile 2011 stalking case.

Presiding judge Hiroshi Furuta said he could find nothing unreasonable with the district court ruling.

In a lay judge trial in June 2013, Nagasaki District Court sentenced Gota Tsutsui to death on charges of murder and intimidation after he was found the morning after the murder with the knife used in the crime and traces of the victims' blood on his clothes.

Tsutsui has maintained his innocence. The high court judge rejected the defendant's claim that the police planted the weapon on him, calling the claim groundless and absurd. Tsutsui's defense counsel plans to appeal the high court ruling.

Furuta described the double murder as "a ruthless crime based on strong criminal intent."

Tsutsui admitted his guilt during the police investigation but then pleaded not guilty dur…

South Korea ferry disaster: Surviving passengers of Sewol tragedy give evidence in court

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Surviving passengers of a South Korean ferry which sunk in April, killing 304 people, are due to give evidence in the trial of its captain and 14 crew members.
Students from the Danwon High School in Ansan, 18 miles south of Seoul, will testify with other passengers in a smaller court nearer to their home, rather than the one where the defendants are being seen in Gwangju, in the south of the country.
The Sewol ferry set sail on 16 April with 476 passengers and crew on board - more than 300 of which were schoolchildren.
They were enroute from the mainland to the island resort of Jeju as part of a school trip, when nearing the end of the journey, the vessel, which was overloaded, also made a sharp turn to the right causing it to capsize.
Captain Lee Joon-seok, 68, was caught on rescue footage being one of the first to leave the ship, while many passengers, obeying orders, remained in the cabins. It is thought a delayed evacuation order from the captain did not get throu…

Sudanese woman Meriam Ibrahim re-arrested at Khartoum airport while trying to leave the country

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A Sudanese woman freed from prison Monday after having her death sentence for apostasy commuted was re-arrested Tuesday along with her husband at Khartoum airport while trying to leave the country, one of her lawyers said.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, 26, was detained along with her husband, US citizen Daniel Wani, and their two young children as they tried to leave the country, lawyer Eman Abdul-Rahim told The Associated Press.
The family is reportedly being held at a security building outside the airport.
A Sudanese court sentenced Ibrahim to hang on May 15 for abandoning the Muslim faith of her father, despite having been raised solely by her Christian mother and identifying herself as a Christian.
Under the version of sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983, conversions are punishable by death. A Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous. The court also ordered her Christian marriage to be annulled and sentenced her to 1…

Sudan Court Frees Woman on Death Row for Apostasy

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Mother Was Convicted of Renouncing Islam, Marrying a Christian
KAMPALA, Uganda—A Sudanese appeals court on Monday ordered the release of a woman who was sentenced to death in May for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, ending a monthslong legal dispute, officials and activists said.
The three-judge appeals panel in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, quashed the verdict and ordered the release of Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old mother, who was forced to give birth in prison in May after being convicted of apostasy—or the abandoning the Islamic faith—after she married Daniel Wani, a Christian man of South Sudanese origin who holds U.S. citizenship.
The case had drawn the attention of Western human-rights and religious groups, threatening to further isolate the Islamic-led government of President Omar al-Bashir, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders.
"We are delighted to hear that Ibrahim and her children have been released into the care of her husband and that the unjust, in…

Seven Prisoners Executed For Drug-Related Charges in Northern Iran

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Iran Human Rights, June 23, 2014: Seven prisoners were hanged in the prison of Rasht (Northern Iran) reported the official website of the Iranian judiciary in Gilan Province.
According to the report all the seven prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges. 
The prisoners were identified as M.H. charged with participation in buying 2 kg of the narcotic drug Crystal, S. G. for trafficking of 2,851 kg of heroin, A. D. for manufacturing and trafficking of 3 kg of concentrated heroin, J. Kh. for buying and selling 100 kg of opium and possession of 1,481 kg of crack, A. A. for participation in buying 147 kg of cannabis and 8 kg of opium, A. S. for possession of 6 kg and 12 g. of heroin and B. B. for possession and trafficking of 2,368 kg of crack.
Source: Iran Human Rights, June 24, 2014

In Texas, perfect storm for executions

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Yet in Texas we hear only of executions — a seemingly endless stream. Are we really two different nations (yes, Texas was its own country once) with different capital destinies? Or are the rest of the states the canaries, and Texas the miner, as oxygen is sucked out of the American death penalty cave?
Texas, too, is less frequently imposing and carrying out the death penalty. In 1999, Texas juries returned an astounding 48 death sentences. Since 2008, however, Texas has annually sent fewer than 10 defendants to death row.
Executions in Texas have declined as well, from a high of 40 in 2000 to fewer than 20 since 2010. But Texas rightly has become the symbol of the modern American death penalty because of its extraordinary number of executions — accounting for more than 500 of the nation's 1,379 executions since 1977.
Indeed, Texas has executed at least four times more people than any other state, and more than all of the other death penalty states combined, excluding Oklahoma, Vi…

U.S.: Race and the Execution Chamber

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After a seven-week freeze following Clayton Lockett's botched execution in Oklahoma, three states executed three death-row inmates in less than 24 hours last week. Georgia, Missouri, and Florida had tangled with defense lawyers for months over the secrecy surrounding their lethal-injection cocktails and where they were obtained, a key issue in Lockett's death. Florida also addressed concerns about its inmate's mental capacity; his lawyers claimed he had an IQ of 78. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected all appeals, however, and the three inmates—Marcus Wellons, John Winfield, and John Henry, respectively—were successively executed without apparent mishap.

In addition to their fates, Wellons, Winfield, and Henry have something else in common: They are among the disproportionate number of black Americans to have been executed since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

In the three states where they were executed, blacks constitute a disproportionate share of…

Judge who sentenced Saddam Hussein killed by Sunni militants

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Baghdad, June 24: Islamic Fundamentalist group ISIL on Monday captured more cities in Iraq and if reports are to be believed then even killed the judge who sentenced death-by-hanging to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussien in 2006. 
Reports suggest that the Kurdish judge Raouf Abdul Rahman was executed by the Sunni militants in retaliation to Saddam's hanging. The judge is said to have been captured on June 16. 
The Iraqi government has not onfirmed the news but several reports suggest the death of the judge may have taken place. 
Facebook posts from many leaders including people who were close to Rahman confirmed his eath. 
Jordanian Member of Parliament Khalil Atteih wrote on his Facebook page; "Iraqi revolutionaries arrested him and sentenced him to death in retaliation to Saddam Hussain's death." He also added that the Iraqi government has not confirmed his death but have refused to deny the kidnapping. He said that the judge tried escaping by wearing dancers un…

China: Death Penalty Overturned for Wife Who Killed Abuser

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The Chinese Supreme People’s Court has overturned a death sentence imposed on a woman who killed her husband after years of abuse, in a decision women’s rights advocates and death penalty opponents hailed as a major step forward for women and the rule of law in China. The court ruled that the case must be retried.

Ms. Li, 43, was sentenced to death in 2011 by the Zhiyang Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan for killing her husband, Tan Yong, in 2010. She beat him to death with an air gun he attacked her with during an argument. This followed a pattern of abuse, including stubbing out cigarettes on her body, banging her head against the wall and locking her outside on the balcony in the winter, her brother said in an interview last year.

What Ms. Li did after she killed her husband was also extreme — she cut him up and boiled parts of him, and then alerted neighbors in Anyue County to what she had done.

After her death sentence was announced, women’s rights advocates across China …

Meriam Ibrahim, sentenced to death in Sudan for apostasy, walks free from prison: lawyer

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Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy, has finally walked out of prison - after six months behind bars.
"Meriam was released just about an hour ago," said Mohanad Mustafa, one of her lawyers.
"She's now out of prison," he told AFP, but said authorities will not issue the reasons for her release until Tuesday.
She has been transferred, he said, "to an unknown house to stay at for her protection and security."
"Her family had been threatened before and we are worried that someone might try to harm her," he told Reuters.
Source: The Telegraph, June 29, 2014

Indiana: 100 years after relative's execution, a woman's self-discovery

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Latonya Collier walks quietly down the long hallway, the click of her heels echoing the last few steps in a 10-year journey of self-discovery.
The Indianapolis woman moves slowly, almost apprehensively, through the windowless passage leading to a small room in a training center just outside the razor-wire fence that surrounds New Castle Correctional Facility.
Reaching a heavy steel door at the end of the hall, Collier stops. She exhales and draws in a deep breath. Then she pushes through the door.
Tears well in her eyes.
There, only a few feet in front of Collier, is the killer of a member of her family: Indiana's electric chair.
The once-prolific killing machine is the most tangible connection yet to Collier's great-great-grandfather, Robert Collier. A century earlier, shortly after midnight on Oct. 16, 1914, Robert Collier became the first black man to be executed in Indiana's then-new electric chair.
His execution was something that few in Collier's family knew abo…

Bali Nine inmate Myuran Sukumaran enters Archibald Prize

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ARCHIBALD Prize entrants often paint famous people. Myuran Sukumaran jokes he has painted an infamous person.
“Look where I am”, he says casting his eyes around. “There are not exactly famous people in here for me to paint”, he says of Kerobokan Jail in Bali, his home for close to the last decade.
Instead the death row inmate chose a self-portrait for his entry in the prestigious art prize. His self-portrait was flown back to Australia and will be lodged this week.
Sukumaran doesn’t expect his entry will be accepted — many are not — but for him it’s not about that, it’s about having a goal and something to aim for.
“Most likely I won’t get accepted in the judging. But it is something to aim for and something to work towards ... Aiming for something high,” he says of his decision to do a painting, at the urging of his mentor Ben Quilty.
Himself an Archibald Prize-winning artist, Quilty has been mentoring Sukumaran and has conducted art classes inside the jail. It is the second time Su…

Saudi Arabia sentences 26 dissidents to death

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June 18, 2014: Saudi Arabia has sentenced twenty-six people to death on such charges as giving speeches critical of the Al Saud regime and participating in protests against the ruling family, Press TV has learnt.

Among those sentenced to death is the prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was attacked, injured and arrested by Saudi security forces en route to his house in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on July 8, 2012.

He has been charged with disturbing the country’s security, giving anti-government speeches, insulting the Saudi king in Friday Prayers sermons, and defending the political prisoners.

Shia activist Kamel Abbas al-Ahmed, who has been in detention after criticizing the regime and fighting for religious freedom and against religious discrimination, is another convict.

In 2009 Ahmed had rejected the remarks of Adel al-Kelbani, the Imam of Grand Mosque of Mecca, who had alleged Shia Muslims are unbelievers.

Following Kelbani’s comments, Ah…

Egypt hangs man for murdering Moroccan singer's daughter and her friend

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June 19, 2014: Egypt hanged a man convicted of murdering the daughter of a Moroccan singer and her friend six years ago during a bungled burglary, security officials said.
The November 2008 murder of Heba al-Akkad, the 23-year-old daughter of singer Leila Ghofran, and her friend Nadine Gamal in an affluent Cairo suburb had sparked a massive hunt for the killer.
A blacksmith was arrested in connection with the murders, with police saying at the time he had entered Akkad's apartment with the intention of stealing money and had killed her and Gamal.
The man was sentenced to death in 2010 and executed on Thursday (June 19) at the Wadi al-Natrun prison. 
Source: NILENET, June 20, 2014

For death row inmate’s lawyer, one last call, one long wait

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Seven weeks after the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate, who twisted in pain and lived for 43 minutes after being injected with lethal drugs, four men in four states had been scheduled to die in one 24-hour period. One of the four, a rapist and murderer, had been executed the evening before in Georgia. In Missouri, a man who had committed a double homicide had been executed at midnight. In Pennsylvania, a man who killed a police officer had received a stay.

And here in Florida, the execution of murderer John Henry had come down to the final grind of the modern death penalty: a convicted killer who was sentenced to die, a state trying to carry out that sentence and a defense attorney trying to keep his client alive.

Harrison looked around for a clock. “Damn, what time is it?” he asked his wife, Barbara.

It was almost 11 a.m. The execution was scheduled for 6 p.m., the dinner hour Baya and Barbara usually observed. He was tired. He was 72 and out of blood pressure medication. He…

Court confirms Egypt Muslim Brotherhood death sentences

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An Egyptian court has confirmed death sentences for 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters accused of a 2013 attack on a police station, lawyers say.
A judge had recommended the death penalty for the 683 defendants, in a widely-criticised mass trial in April.
Mohammed Badie, leader of the banned group, was among those whose sentences were upheld. Appeals are now likely.
The military-installed government has sentenced hundreds of its opponents since December.
Authorities have cracked down harshly on Islamists since former President Mohammed Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, was removed by the military in July 2013 following mass protests.
Saturday's verdict was delivered by a court in the town of Minya, south of Cairo.
Four of the defendants were given sentences of 15-25 years in jail and the rest were acquitted.
The defendants were accused of involvement in the murder and attempted murder of policemen in Minya province on 14 August 2013, the day police killed hundreds of M…