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Showing posts from July, 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…

Sister Helen Prejean needs your help to save Richard Glossip's life

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I need your help in the fight to save Richard Glossip's life. As you might know, Richard's execution is scheduled for September 16 - a month and a half away from now. 
I firmly believe, along with many others, that Richard is innocent of the crime that sent him to death row.
We need to get a thick and fast stream of handwritten letters going to Gov. Mary Fallin in Oklahoma City right away. 
Gov. Fallin has the power to grant Richard a reprieve from the scheduled execution. 
You can find a template for your letter on our new Richard Glossip webpage HERE
Once you’ve written your letter, spread the word among your friends and family and in your churches. 
The more letters that Gov. Fallin receives, the more difficult it will be to ignore this innocent man.
Source: Ministry Against the Death Penalty, Sr. Helen Prejean, July 31, 2015
Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Not a killing state: Is Colorado prepared for the death penalty?

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The majority of Coloradans want their state to kill James Holmes. But if he receives the death penalty, the Department of Corrections may not be ready.
Convicted murderer James Holmes is now awaiting his sentence.
He faces the death penalty for his crimes, a punishment 2/3 of Coloradans believe he deserves.
But lethal injection drugs are increasingly hard to obtain. If the jury sentences Holmes to death, is Colorado actually capable of carrying it out?
Like all 31 states that still allow capital punishment, Colorado uses lethal injection as its primary means of execution. But it almost never happens: The 1997 death of Gary Lee Davis remains the state's only execution in almost 50 years, and the only time Colorado has ever performed a lethal injection. We are, in the words of death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, "not a killing state."
The Colorado Department of Corrections, tasked with performing executions, doesn't even keep drugs for the procedure on hand. …

North Carolina wants easier, more secretive executions

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The national debate over capital punishment has proceeded in a variety of disparate directions, with some states deciding to end the practice altogether. But in North Carolina, the Republican-led legislature has apparently concluded that the status quo on executions needs to be tweaked in a more alarming way - making it easier for the state to kill people with greater secrecy.
With little debate, the North Carolina Senate voted along party lines 33-16 Monday night to approve a bill aimed at restarting executions in the state.
The legislation, House Bill 774, would repeal the current law requiring that a physician be present to monitor all executions .... The bill would also remove from public record the names of companies that make, supply or deliver the drugs used in lethal injection, and it would exempt the execution protocol itself from the oversight of the state's Rules Review Commission.
There would be no public oversight of the protocol, nor would that information - from th…

India hangs another despite pleas from eminent people

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Possible innocence, the fact that guilt was never proven beyond reasonable doubt and that many impoverished accused are poorly represented - just a few of the reasons anti-death penalty campaigners cite.
Earlier today, Yakub Memon, a chartered accountant convicted in connection with the 1993 Bombay bombings case, was hanged on his 53rd birthday despite many eminent Indians’ pleas that as he had assisted with the investigations and provided vital information, his life should be spared, especially as he had already spent two decades in jail.
Given that the current main constituent of the ruling coalition, namely the Bharatiya Janata Party, and of the previous, the Congress, are near identical in their main policy thrusts, it is hardly surprising that the last two men to be hanged in India were Muslims, as was Memon. Not necessarily by design but a majority of the prison population consists of the poor, Dalits (“untouchables”), Muslims and indigenous peoples. Their representation on deat…

Pakistan executed juvenile in May, court documents show

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This year has already seen Pakistan execute at least two people sentenced to death as children, documents obtained by international human rights organisation Reprieve show.
Faisal Mehmood was executed on 27 May, 2015, even though the prosecutor in his initial trial had argued he should not face the death penalty as he was under 18 at the time of the alleged crime.
The revelation comes on top of the execution of Aftab Bahadur on 10 June, who was convicted aged 15, and ahead of the planned hanging of Shafqat Hussain next week, who was also sentenced to death while under 18.
Faisal Mehmood was initially convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in 2000. However, Pakistan’s Supreme Court increased this to a capital sentence on appeal – despite evidence he was under eighteen at the time of the alleged offence.
The Supreme Court judgement even records that the Deputy Prosecutor General in the case was “pleased that the sentence of imprisonment for life…was…

India Executes Yakub Memon, Man Tied to 1993 Mumbai Bombings

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NEW DELHI — Yakub Memon, the “driving spirit” behind a series of bombings in Mumbai that killed 257 people in 1993, was hanged early Thursday morning at a prison in central India.
The bombings, a carefully coordinated series of a dozen explosions across the city, stunned India because of their level of sophistication and their unprecedented carnage. In addition to the dead, more than 700 people were injured and several neighborhoods were left in smoking ruins.
According to prosecutors, Mr. Memon was the bomb plot’s indispensable middleman, the one who arranged financing, made travel plans, stockpiled weapons and bought vehicles for car bombs. Of all those who have been convicted of crimes related to the bombings, including the men who planted the bombs, Mr. Memon is the only defendant to be executed.
As is the norm in India, journalists were not allowed to witness the execution, which was carried out at the Central Prison in the city of Nagpur. Under prison procedures, the condemned …

Iran: 14 Executions, 3 Carried Out in Public

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Iran Human Rights, July 29 2015: Based on official and unofficial reports, Iranian authorities have executed at least 14 prisoners in the province of Alborz since Monday.
Close sources say seven prisoners with drug charges were hanged on Monday in Karaj Central Prison. 
On Saturday the Iranian authorities had reportedly transferred the seven prisoners along with two more prisoners to solitary confinement. 
The executions of the two others prisoners have reportedly been delayed for unknown reasons.
On Tuesday four prisoners at Ghezel Hesar Prison were hanged for drug charges, according to close sources. 
The prisoners were reportedly removed out of their prison wards on Sunday and transferred to solitary confinement along with two more prisoners. 
The executions of the two other prisoners have reportedly been delayed for unknown reasons.
Today Iranian authorities hanged three prisoners in a public area in the city of Karaj, reports state media Mehr News. 
The report does not mention t…

Nebraska Senator Bob Krist Explains Why He Said "No" to the Death Penalty

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The death penalty has for years been a polarizing issue in the United States. Proponents and opponents alike have strong opinions and strong emotional responses to the issue.

In May, 2015, the Nebraska legislature overrode a governor's veto to abolish the death penalty in that state. One of the unusual aspects of this occurrence is that a conservative legislature overrode the veto of a Republican governor to eliminate the death penalty.
One of those voting to repeal the death penalty was Senator Bob Krist. In a recent opinion piece in the Omaha World-Herald, Krist explained his concerns about the death penalty. [Note: In his op-ed piece, Senator Krist refers to information from the Death Penalty Information Center as to the cost of carrying out executions.]
Krist explains that he reached his decision on the death penalty issue based on hearing 6 years of data about it. Among the things that came to light are the considerable expenses of any death penalty case, from the decision t…

India's SC Paves the Way for Yakub Memon's Hanging; Maharashtra Governor Rejects His Mercy Plea

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon any relief as rejected both his petitions, even as the Maharashtra Governor rejected his 2nd mercy petition, paving the way for his execution on 30 July.
Memon had moved SC seeking quashing of the death warrant issued against him by a special Tada court of Mumbai on 30 April claiming that he had not exhausted all his legal remedies when he was awarded the death penalty. He had also sought a stay on his execution.
A 3-judge bench, constituted by Chief Justice HL Dattu, rejected both his pleas one after the other in the afternoon.
Justice Dattu had constituted a larger bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy after a 2-judge bench differed in their opinions on Memon's petitions.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao also rejected Memon's plea for mercy, media reports said.
Earlier on Wednesday Memon filed a 3rd mercy petition to President Pranab Mukherjee des…

Iran: Juvenile Offender Accused of Murder at 15 May Be Executed on Saturday

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Amnesty International has issued a warning about the imminent execution of a juvenile offender in Iran
Salar Shadizadi is a juvenile offender in Rasht Prison who is reportedly set to be hanged to death on Saturday, August 1st for a murder crime he reportedly committed when he was 15.

Salar's death sentence was confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court.
In a recently published statement by Amnesty International the NGO urges Iranian authorities to stop Salar's execution.
In April 2015 Iranian authorities executed Jamal Saberi, a juvenile offender who was 17 years old at the time he was arrested and charged with murder and drug possession. 
Jamal was sentenced to death by Iran's Judiciary and hanged in Rajai Shahr Prison along with 4 more prisoners charged with murder. 
Jamal reportedly suffered from severe psychological disorders and was held in Omid Abad Psychiatric Ward for some time before his execution.
Iran is signatory to the United Nation's International Covenant of …

8 more murder convicts hanged in Pakistan

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8 more death row prisoners, who were convicted for murders, were sent to gallows in different prisons of Punjab on Wednesday.
According to Samaa correspondent, three murder convicts were hanged in district jail in Attock city early in the morning. A father and his son were among the 3 condemned prisoners.
Officials said 5 other death row convicts were executed in jails of Sargodha, Multan, Kasur, Jhang and Gujarat.
Authorities on Monday resumed executions following a one-month break during Ramazan.
Over 180 people have been executed since December when the country ended a 6-year moratorium on the death penalty following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people -- mostly children -- in the country's deadliest ever terror attack.
Among those currently on death row are murder convict Shafqat Hussain who is scheduled to be hanged on Aug 4 in Karachi.
His case has drawn international criticism because his family and lawyers say he was under 18 at the t…

Philippines bids to save Mary Jane Veloso from execution in Indonesia

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Woman who says she was duped into smuggling drugs was given last-minute reprieve from firing squad but remains on death row
Officials from the Philippines arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday to discuss a case against drug traffickers that they hope can prove that a Filipino former domestic worker was tricked into smuggling heroin and save her from a firing squad.
Mary Jane Veloso was given a temporary reprieve by Indonesian president Joko Widodo just hours before she was due to be executed in April. Eight men were killed by firing squad that day.
Her alleged trafficker had handed herself in to the police in Manila, and the Philippines president, Benigno Aquino, made a last-minute appeal on the basis that Veloso would be needed as a witness in the case against her alleged recruiter.
“Primarily we are updating the Indonesian government on progress made in the case of Mary Jane Veloso,” Filipino department of foreign affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose told the Guardian.
The Philippine…

Pakistan hangs three convicted killers

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July 28, 2015: Three murder convicts were hanged in Pakistan between July 27 and 28 as executions resumed following a one-month break during the holy month of Ramazan that ended last week.
Farooq and Karim Nawaz, were hanged in Multan on July 27 amid strict security arrangements.
“Two prisoners, Farooq alias Farooqa and Karim Nawaz, who had been awarded capital punishment, have been hanged in central jail in Multan today,” Chaudhry Arshad Saeed, a senior government adviser for prisons in the Punjab province told AFP.
“Both of these convicts were awaiting the death penalty for murdering people in separate cases. They have been executed today after resumption of hangings following a temporary moratorium because of Ramazan,” he said.
Another senior official of the prisons department who is responsible for all operations confirmed the hangings.
In 1988, Farooq had murdered a person over a transaction whereas Kareem Nawaz had killed another in 1999 due to old enmity.
Akhtar were han…

Sister Prejean and Death Penalty foes assert Glossip's innocence

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Sister Helen Prejean recalled a phone call she received last January from Richard E. Glossip, who had "put me down as someone he wanted to be present when he was executed."
She accepted because, "I don't believe in working quietly or going quietly into that night" even she believes a person scheduled to receive the ultimate sanction of death is guilty. However, "In this case, I believe he is innocent."
Prejean, author of a book that became the motion picture "Dead Man Walking," said Glossip had ineffective counsel at both of his trials.
Discussing a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Oklahoma's execution protocols - and thus, clearing the way for Glossip's scheduled September 16 date with death - the nun jabbed at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for his defense of Oklahoma's legal system in the case of Glossip v. Gross.
At a July 13 press conference hosted by the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP),…

Japanese 'haiku' killer sentenced to death

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A convicted Japanese murderer who left a haunting "haiku" poem behind after his grisly deeds was sentenced to death on Tuesday.
The district court in southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture handed down the sentence 2 years after Kosei Homi, 65, was arrested for killing 5 elderly residents in a tiny mountain hamlet.
The victims, in their 70s and 80s -- who reportedly represented about 1/3 of the community's population --- were battered to death.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Homi suffered from a paranoid mental disorder but argued he was competent to stand trial.
Defence lawyers immediately appealed the sentence.
Japan and the United States are the only major advanced industrial nations that continue to have capital punishment.
In July 2013 police found 3 corpses in fire-gutted houses and subsequently uncovered 2 more bodies in separate homes.
Homi was arrested days later, being spotted dressed only in his underwear in mountains near the hamlet.
At Homi's house, a "ha…

Indonesia: Woman caught with 82 handbags filled with 12 kg of methamphetamines from China

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North Jakarta Police Commissioner Susetio Cahyadi announced yesterday that his officers had seized 12 kilograms of methamphetamines, said to be worth Rp 18 billion, originating from Guangzhou, China.
As is often the case, the meth was concealed in an unusual container, or rather containers. Specifically, it was sewn into the lining of 82 ladies' handbags.
According to Susetio, the meth filled fashion accessories were seized at a boarding house on Jalan Jatayu in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta, on Tuesday, July 7.
"The meth was received by Jumi Yenita, a 26 years old," he said at his office yesterday, as quoted by Tempo.
Susetio said the meth was ordered from China by a Nigerian citizen named Jhon Ladiord Okori. After the meth arrived in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, Jhon contacted Jumi to pick it up.
After Jumi picked up the product, Susetio said police followed her and caught her with the narcotics in her room. Police later arrested Jhon on Thursday, July 9 at the same bo…

Kuwait court sentences 4 Egyptians to death

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A court in Kuwait has sentenced 4 Egyptians to death over the killing of a Pakistani guard at a construction site.
The Egyptian nationals were sentenced on Tuesday. They were charged with murder using a hammer.
The 4 men confessed to killing the Pakistani national at the construction site where they stole 36 tons of steel, before selling it all for USD 18,000.
The verdict can be appealed.
3 other Egyptians were also sentenced to 7 years in prison for helping the four commit the crime.
In Kuwait, dozens of people are thought to be on death row over, mostly, murder and drug crimes, where execution is carried out by hanging.
Except for a return of the death penalty in 2013, execution has generally not been used in Kuwait since 2007.
Since the death penalty was introduced in Kuwait in the mid 1960s, some 71 people have been executed.
Source: Presstv, July 28, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

Second Saudi execution after Ramadan pause

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens for drug trafficking Tuesday, in the second execution after a pause for Ramadan.
Saif al-Hadissane was found guilty of smuggling a large amount of hashish.
He was executed in the Al-Ahsa region of eastern Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
SPA had reported no executions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday which followed it from July 17.
The latest beheading brings to 104 the number of executions in the kingdom this year, a sharp increase on the 87 recorded during the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.
This year's figure is still below the record 192 which human rights group Amnesty International said took place in 1995.
Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi authorities of waging a "campaign of death" by executing more people in the first six months of this year than in all of last year.
Echoing the concerns of other acti…

Lindsay Sandiford's death row case raised by David Cameron in Indonesia

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The Prime Minister, who is on a tour of Indonesia, raises case of British grandmother convicted of dug trafficking
David Cameron has raised the case of Lindsay Sandiford, the British grandmother on death row, with his Indonesian counterpart.
Mr Cameron discussed her case with President Jokowi of Indonesia at a meeting in Jakarta.
Sandiford, who is in her late fifties and originally from Redcar, Teesside, was sentenced to death in January 2013 in Bali after being convicted of trafficking drugs.
She was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6 million as she arrived in Bali on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand.
She can expect to be killed by firing squad.
Asked about the case, the Prime Minister said: “On the issue of prisoners, I always raise these issues wherever I travel around the world, and will do so here.
“I want to do it in a way I hope will help the family concerned, and obviously will listen to the concerns of the families and their views before doing these things. That is the…

Libyan court sentences Gaddafi son Saif, eight other ex-officials to death

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A Libyan court on Tuesday sentenced Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, and eight others to death for war crimes including killings of protesters during the 2011 revolution that ended his father's rule.
The former Gaddafi regime officials sentenced to die by firing squad included former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and ex-prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Sadiq al-Sur, chief investigator at the Tripoli state prosecutor's office, told a televised news conference in Tripoli.
The trial outcome drew swift criticism abroad, with Human Rights Watch and a prominent international lawyer saying it was riddled with legal flaws and carried out amid widespread lawlessness undermining the credibility of the judiciary.
Eight ex-officials received life sentences and seven jail terms of 12 years each, Sadiq said. Four of the 37 defendants were acquitted, others got shorter jail terms.
Muammar Gaddafi himself was killed by rebels who captured him after months…

Pakistan court grants stay of execution to paraplegic prisoner

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A court in Pakistan today stayed the execution of a paraplegic man who was set to hang tomorrow (Wednesday).
Abdul Basit, 43, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in 2009. In 2010, he contracted tubercular meningitis in prison, which left him paralysed from the waist down. Despite being unable to stand, and reliant on a wheelchair, a ‘Black Warrant’ issued last week scheduled his execution for July 29th.
The Lahore High Court today upheld an appeal by lawyers for Basit who argued that his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, violating the fundamental right to human dignity enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution.
The Pakistan Prison Rules of 1978 – the statute regulating executions – state that the rope for hanging must be the correct length, in order to avoid prisoners facing protracted strangulation (if it is too long) or decapitation (if it is too short). The rules state that the rope’s length is determined by measuring it from “the lower jaw of the con…

The Four Best Charts From the Supreme Court's Death-Penalty Ruling

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Breyer makes the case against "unusual" punishments
When the Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor a controversial lethal-injection drug, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an impassioned dissent. He argued that not only was the specific drug combo unconstitutionally cruel, but the entire practice of lethal injection should be reconsidered. To back his argument, he brought charts.
"Cruel and unusual punishments" are expressly forbidden in the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The first three items above are Breyer's reasoning for why the death penalty is cruel: The methods are unreliable, the sentencing is arbitrary, and the years of uncertain waiting before execution are torturous. It's the fourth item—the declining use of capital punishment across the U.S.—that Breyer uses to argue the unusual nature of executions.
Argument #4. Geographic Concentration of Executions Is Narrowing
Of America's 50 states, 30 have either legally abolished executions o…

Tennessee lethal injection trial continues with dueling experts

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The Tennessee Supreme Court says the death penalty is constitutional, so there must be a constitutional way to carry it out. But attorneys for 33 death row inmates say lethal injection isn't one of them.
In a trial that began July 7, the inmates' attorneys have been trying to prove the injection of deadly chemicals into a prisoner's veins carries an unacceptably high risk of extreme suffering and can cause a lingering death.
The case comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma's lethal injection procedure, which uses different drugs than Tennessee but considered some of the same broad issues.
Inmates' attorneys say the claim of lingering death is a novel one. It is based on the theory that an overdose of sedatives can put inmates into a death-like coma without truly killing them for hours.
One witness who is an expert in resuscitation told the Davidson County Chancery Court it might be possible to revive an inmate who had been declared dead half …

Iran: 27 executions in past week

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NCRI – Nine prisoners were on Monday hanged collectively in a detention center in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.
Also on Monday two other prisoners, identified as Saeid Ganji and Firouz Nouri-Majd, were hanged in Iran’s notorious Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj.
The hangings bring to at least 27 the number of prisoners that have been executed in Iran in the past week.
The nine prisoners executed at dawn on Monday in the Karaj detention center were identified as Omid Mohammadi-Dara, Mostafa Ghafarzadeh, Omidreza Karampour, Shahriar Hassan-Zadeh, Hossein Afghan, Yareh Hassan-Zadeh, Sasan Salari, Meysam Hosseini-Nejad, and Amanollah Baluch-Zehi.
Faced with escalating popular discontent and unable to respond to the rightful demands of the majority of the Iranian people who are living under the poverty line, the religious fascism ruling Iran - dubbed the ‘godfather of ISIS’ by the Iranian people - is ramping up suppression.
On Thursday, Amnesty International said that the Iranian regime ha…