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Showing posts from February, 2015

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Bali 9: Myuran Sukumaran awarded fine art degree

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Bali 9 ringleader Myuran Sukumaran has been awarded an Associate Degree in Fine Art from Curtin University in Perth just days before he is expected to die.
He deserves this in so many ways and for so many reasons
Sukumaran was due to finish his Bachelor of Fine Arts, which he was completing via correspondence from Kerobokan prison in Bali, by the end of this year.
"It's just so unreal," Ben Quilty said of the degree awarded to Sukumaran.
His friend and mentor, Archibald prize winning artist Ben Quilty wrote last month that Sukumaran's mother, Raji, was worried that the pressure of an imminent firing squad would prevent "Myu" finishing his degree this year.
"She has worried more in the past 10 years than most mothers worry in a lifetime," Mr Quilty wrote in Fairfax Media.
"I told her that as long as he is allowed to live, nothing will stop Myuran Sukumaran."
Now Curtin University has confirmed that Sukumaran has already accrued enough po…

Singapore: Landmark decision on death penalty sparks legal debate

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When it comes to a murderer, how brutal must he be to warrant the death penalty?
In a landmark decision last month, judges were divided on this point - deciding in the end by 3 to 2 that convicted killer Kho Jabing, 31, will hang.
The decision sparked keen discussion among the legal fraternity, who noted that while it did provide some guidelines on when the death penalty should be upheld, these may not be enough.
Kho's was the 1st murder case to reach the Court of Appeal since new laws kicked in 2 years ago, giving judges more sentencing discretion for murder and drug-trafficking offences, as an alternative to mandatory hanging.
In 2008, Kho, a Sarawakian rag-and-bone man, bludgeoned a construction worker repeatedly with a branch while trying to rob him.
The decision of the nation's highest court last month hinged on what three of the judges said was the "sheer savagery and brutality" Kho had displayed. In essence, the act "outraged the feelings of the communit…

Four executed in Iran

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3 prisoners were hanged in the prison of Ardebil (Northwestern Iran).
According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Ardebil Province, the prisoners were convicted of drug trafficking and were arrested while transferring 27 kilograms of heroin out of the country.
Due to lack of transparency in Iran's Judiciary, the charges have not been confirmed by independent sources.
Source: Iran Human Rights, February 28, 2015

A man hanged in Tabas
A man hanged in a prison in city of Tabas in Iran. The prisoner had been arrested 3 years ago.
Mehdi Fatahi was hanged early morning on Wednesday in the main prison in the city.
Fatahi was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug related offences but he was sentenced to death by an appeal court.
On the same day two other prisoners were hanged in public in the western city of Kermanshah.
The 2 men were hanged in 2 locations in the city at 10 in the morning local time.
According to the reports received from various sources doz…

Bali Nine: Joko Widodo 'open to views on executions,' says Jakarta's governor

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Kerobokan, Bali: Jakarta's governor has told an Indonesian media outlet that the country's President Joko Widodo is "considering different views" on the death penalty, including advice that it should be removed from Indonesia's laws.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, was Mr Joko's deputy for two years at city hall, and succeeded Mr Joko as governor when he became president.
Visiting a prison in Jakarta on Saturday, Ahok revealed he had told the president he believes the death penalty should be removed from Indonesia's laws and replaced with life in jail without remission.
"If from inside (jail) they're still controlling drugs, then execute them immediately that day," Ahok was quoted by local news website detik.com as saying.
"But if people want to change, give them a chance to live. Maybe he can make other people more aware instead of punishing him with death ... I don't agree with the death penalty."
The governor&…

ISIS releases images showing another 'gay man' being thrown off roof and stoned to death in Syria

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Islamic State (ISIS) has released images appearing to show another man being thrown off a roof and stoned to death for being gay in Syria.
Last month ISIS released extremely graphic images of the execution of two men for being gay in Mosul, Iraq, and earlier this month posted video of an similar incident in Tal Abyad, Syria.
The group has now posted images of another execution in Raqqah, Syria.
In the images, a man is thrown off a roof blindfolded, with his hands and feet bound.
A large crowd gathered below the area to pelt his body with rocks.
According to the Mail, the man had been accused of committing ‘acts of Sodomy’, and was referred to as a ‘Child of Lot’.
Most of the images are too graphic to display on PinkNews, showing the man’s body amid a mound of rubble.
In addition to men in the crowd, women in niqabs can be seen watching the execution in some of the unpublished pictures. It is unusual for women to be allowed to attend a public execution.
Source: PinkNews, February 28, …

Saudi Arabia Beheads Indian, Pakistani nationals

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded an Indian axe murderer and a Pakistani heroin trafficker, bringing to 34 the number of death sentences carried out this year.
Vijay Kumar Saleem, of India, was convicted of killing a Yemeni by striking him in the head with the axe, an interior ministry statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.
The attack took place after a dispute at the farm where they worked, it said, adding that Saleem was executed in Riyadh.
"Investigations led to his confession and he was tried and found guilty," a separate interior ministry statement said.
The Pakistani city of Karachi is a key transit point for heroin from Afghanistan.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Gulf has become an increasingly important market for illicit drugs in recent years.
The Saudi government says it "is committed to fighting drugs of all kinds due to the physical and social harm they cause".
It also says the death penalty …

French national Serge Atlaoui 'not a drug user, not a trafficker, not a drug baron': French Ambassador

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Jakarta (ANTARA News) - French Ambassador Corinne Breuze said the death sentence and a threat of execution of a Frenchman in Indonesia has been received as a disturbing news in France.
"The report is greatly disturbing for the French people as since 1981, no French citizen has been punished with death either in France or abroad," Breuze told a news conference at the French embassy here on Thursday.
Therefore, all people of France including its government gave support to the family of Serge Atlaoui, the Frenchman, who was given a death penalty for cases of ecstasy factory.
"Serge Atlaoui is not a user, a dealer or the owner of the drug factory. We hope the law authorities give a serious attention to his bid for a review (PK) of the sentence and could give a fair decision," the ambassador said.
Meanwhile PK on the case of Atlaoui has been submitted to the Tangerang District Court on February 10, 2015 and the court would hold a session on the PK request on 11 March,…

Chan and Sukumaran urged to accept reality

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Bali's head ombudsman says Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran should accept the reality that authorities are determined to execute them.
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are keeping their spirits up even as authorities around them say they should come to terms with Indonesia's determination to execute them soon.
Kerobokan jail governor Sudjonggo says the men, who are the driving forces behind his prison's successful rehabilitation programs, are faring well.
He says he has no word on when they will be transferred to Nusakambangan, the island Indonesia is preparing for the executions of the Bali Nine pair and eight other drug offenders.
"I don't know yet when they're going to be transferred," he told reporters on Thursday.
"I'm not seeing them packing yet either. Myuran's paintings are still in the studio."
Bali's head ombudsman Umar Ibnu Alkhatab inspected the prison on Thursday and found all was running normall…

Asian sentenced to death for raping child in Abu Dhabi; Kuwaiti jailed 10 years for killing 'lazy' maid

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A court of appeals in Abu Dhabi upheld a previous court ruling and sentenced an Asian cleaner to death after he was convicted of raping a 7-year-old school girl.
Police had arrested the cleaner at the school following a report by the girl’s parents that he forced her into the kitchen where he works and raped her.
He then threatened to kill her if she tells anyone at school or home. But her mother discovered the crime when the girl went home and changed her school dress.
“Her mother and aunt noticed there was blood in her clothes…after pressing her, the scared girl told her mother what happened,” Emirat Alyoum daily said.
The defendant had appealed the death sentence on the grounds he confessed to the crime under duress. 
The appeals court dismissed his claims and sentenced him to death. It also rejected a demand by the victim’s family for Dh5 million damages from the school and referred the case to the civilian court.
Source: Emirates 24/7, February 26, 2015


Kuwaiti beats maid to deat…

Jakarta Globe Editorial: Okay, Mr. Tough Guy. We Get It. Now Stop.

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What will be the exit strategy for Indonesia to extract itself from the diplomatic mess our leaders and countrymen’s insistence on executing foreign citizens for drug trafficking has caused? There’s no way out in sight, unless the executions stop.
With a total of 58 foreign nationals on death row, Indonesia is going to face increasingly intense and coordinated diplomatic protests from other nations, such as France, Britain and China, if the government insists on proceeding with all of the executions.
These countries will lodge protests because their governments will look bad domestically if they don’t go after Indonesia. There is a strong risk that relations can be harmed to such an extent as to disrupt trade and investment, as well as endanger Indonesia’s own citizens abroad.
The execution of foreign citizens is not merely about those sentenced to death: It’s also about the pride of all their countrymen. Heads of state and their diplomatic corps have a moral duty to defend the human…

We stand for mercy: Australia's top legal minds sign petition calling for clemency for Chan and Sukumaran

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More than 140 of Australia's leading law professors, deans and academics have signed a petition pleading with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to use his constitutional powers to spare the lives of the Bali 9 pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
In ultimately deciding on clemency we believe the Indonesian Government should give the strongest consideration to the remarkable rehabilitation history of the 2 condemned.
Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sydney, Mark Findlay, said the response from the legal fraternity over the past 24 hours has been "astonishing in its commitment and its concern".
"We are not lecturing the Indonesians, but rather we want to commend their prison system which seems to have assisted in the remarkable rehabilitation of our 2 fellow citizens," he said.
The petition says the academics seek the Indonesian president's mercy, "not as critics of Indonesia, or its legal system, nor of Indonesia's right to take…

Saudi Arabia beheads Jordanian national for drug trafficking

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Saudi Arabia has beheaded a Jordanian on charges of drug trafficking, bringing to 32 the number of executions carried out in the kingdom in the first 2 months of 2015.
The convicted Jordanian drug smuggler, identified as Omar Mohammed Abdul Muti al-Rubai, was beheaded in the northwestern al-Jawf region, on Wednesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.
The execution was carried out after the convict allegedly confessed to trying to smuggle a large amount of amphetamines across the northern Jordan-Saudi border.
This is while the increasing number of executions in Saudi Arabia has drawn growing concern on the international stage. Riyadh carried out the death penalty against 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013.
The country has come under particular criticism from rights groups for the executions carried out for non-fatal crimes.
According to the London-based rights group Amnesty International's annual report on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia imposes death sentences "after unfair tri…

Two prisoners hanged in public in Kermanshah, Iran

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NCRI - As the executions of prisoners continue unabated in Iran, the clerical regime’s henchmen hang two other prisoners in public in the western city of Kermanshah.
The two men were hanged in two locations in the city at 10:00 in the morning local time on Wednesday.
The public hanging follows executions in several prisons in cities across Iran, few of which have been officially announced.
According to the reports received from various sources dozens of prisoners have been hanged during the past weekend alone in prisons across Iran.
Official news websites reported that four prisoners have been hanged on Sunday in city of Arak and another prisoner has been hanged on Tuesday morning in the main prison in the city of Rasht.
Source: NCRI, Feb. 25, 2015

4 men hanged in Arak

4 prisoners hanged in the main prison in the city of Arak on Tuesday, the judiciary's website in the Central Province has announced.

The prisoners were only identified by their 1st name and last name initials as Moh…

Nevada death penalty costs reflect U.S. trends

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When Nevada lawmakers were informed in November that death penalty cases in the state cost $532,000 more on average than other murder cases from arrest through the end of incarceration, the findings were consistent with other studies pushed by anti-death penalty advocates. The financial hit taken by taxpayers has become 1 of the central arguments death penalty foes have used in recent years in an effort to have states overturn that form of punishment.
A search of the Internet turns up little in the way of arguments that refute the cost studies, even though the majority of states have death penalty laws that continue to be defended by victims' rights organizations.
There are 18 states without the death penalty. Michigan has been on that list the longest, having been without a death penalty since 1846, while Maryland was last to join this group in 2013.
Nevada is among the other 32 states with the death penalty, with April 2006 being the last time the punishment was applied in this…

PNG government defends death penalty as new guidelines approved

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The Papua New Guinea government has defended its decision to reinstate the death penalty as the country prepares to execute 13 prisoners before the end of the year.
Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, secretary for the Department of Justice and attorney-general, said people had had enough of serious crime and perpetrators should die for their crimes.
"In this country we have very strong support for the implementation of the death penalty," Mr Kalinoe told the ABC's Radio Australia." For example, one of the (radio) talkback shows I went to, 33 people called. Of the 33, 3 opposed the death penalty, 30 of them fully supported the government's role, to actually offer to be the executioner.
"That's how serious the citizens of this country are, serious in trying to make this place, a just safe and secure society."
Mr Kalinoe's comments came after the government approved new guidelines for the implementation of death penalty.The death penalty has not been used in P…

Texas: British death row grandmother Linda Carty granted new hearing

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A Texas court has today granted British death row grandmother Linda Carty a new hearing to assess recently discovered evidence in her case.
The evidentiary hearing, granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, will assess evidence that the key witnesses in Linda’s trial lied on the witness stand because they were threatened by the prosecutor into testifying against her. The new evidence was unearthed by lawyers at international human rights charity Reprieve following years of investigation.
Among the witnesses is Christopher Robinson, the only person who claimed to have seen Linda (56) carry out the murder of Joanna Rodriguez. Christopher Robinson has now admitted that Texas District Attorneys (DAs) “threatened me and intimidated me” into identifying Linda as the culprit. Mr Robinson, who was the key to the prosecution case, admits that he never saw Linda kill anyone and his testimony to this extent at trial was a lie.
Mr Robinson has signed an affidavit, filed in September 2014, …

Georgia: Death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner denied clemency; execution rescheduled ahead of winter storm

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Kelly Gissindaner's last ditch effort to avoid execution Wednesday night was unsuccessful.
The five member, all-male Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Wednesday morning it has denied clemency to the state's only female death row inmate.
Tuesday, the board listened to a full day of testimony from supporters and opponents. Twenty-one people over a four hour period asked the board to spare Kelly Gissendaner's life.
Gissendaner now admits to her role in the February 1997 murder of her husband, Doug Gissendaner, Jr. She orchestrated his murder by convincing her boyfriend, Greg Owen, to kill him.
"He beat him (Doug) with a (billy) club and stabbed him and left him to die in the woods," said Gwinnett County District Attorney, Danny Porter.
Kelly Gissendaner was not there at the hearing, which was closed to the public.
The witness list in favor of clemency included two of Gissendaner's three children, Kayla and Dakota; her stepmother and grandmother; fi…

Unswayed by World Leaders’ Pleas, Jokowi Pushes Ahead With Executions

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‘Firm Stance’: Indonesia’s unyielding position on capital punishment has transformed into an issue of national pride
Jakarta. President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday the planned execution of 11 convicts on death row, most on drugs charges, would not be delayed despite concerted pleas from several world leaders. Instead, he warned foreign countries not to intervene with his government’s right to impose the capital punishment.
Joko has denied clemency to the death-row prisoners despite repeated pleas for mercy from Australia, Brazil and France, all of whom have citizens due to be executed by an Indonesian firing squad.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made a similar appeal to Indonesia last Friday.
Eleven inmates are due to face the firing squad after Joko rejected their requests for clemency in January.
“I will say this firmly: no one may intervene with the executions because it is our sovereign right to exercise our laws,” Joko told reporters.
He said he had taken calls from…

Bill To Abolish The Death Penalty Fails By Just One Vote In Montana House

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The Montana state House came closer to abolishing the death penalty Monday than it has ever before, ultimately failing to pass the measure by just one vote.
According to the Montana Lee Newspapers, the House ended up deadlocked 50-50, which means the measure is likely dead for the 2015 legislative session. Although the state Senate has passed legislation ending the death penalty, the House never has.
There are currently two inmates on death row in Montana. Seventy-four people have been executed by the state in total.
State Rep. David "Doc" Moore (R), sponsor of House Bill 370, said the people on death row should instead spend their lives in prison without parole.
“And to me, personally, I couldn't imagine a worse fate than being locked up on prison for the rest of my life,” he said, according to Montana Television Network.
Last week, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said he would support a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty pending a Supreme Court decision …