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Showing posts from July, 2017

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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…

Yemeni executed for child rape and murder

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SANAA (Reuters) - A man convicted of raping and murdering a three-year-old girl was executed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday in front of hundreds of onlookers, the first public execution there since 2009.
"Security was very tight, because authorities were fearing a revenge attack by armed men from the Bani Matar tribe to which the girl's family belong," said Reuters photographer Khaled Abdullah who witnessed the scene.
The police van transporting Muhammad al-Maghrabi, 41, to Sanaa's Tahrir Square was escorted by five police patrol vehicles. The execution drew a large number of onlookers, some perched up telegraph poles and many watching from rooftops.
The crowd started to shout "Allah is the greatest" when Maghrabi arrived.
"The man was escorted from the van to the middle of the square, and then the place turned to a complete chaos and I fought for a position to take pictures," Abdullah said.
"He tried to talk to the executioner, a pol…

Japan: Efforts continue to achieve hanged killer's final wish

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Efforts to achieve the final wish of a serial killer continue even 20 years after his execution, with around 200 people gathering for a charity event on Saturday in Tokyo to raise money for underprivileged children.
The main speaker of the event commemorating Norio Nagayama, who was hanged on Aug. 1, 1997, for the murder of four people in 1968 at the age of 19, was Yoshihiro Ishikawa, a psychiatrist.
Based on his experience of performing mental evaluations on Nagayama, Ishikawa said, "He could not develop his personality in the face of multiple posttraumatic stress disorders."
Born into an extremely poor family, Nagayama was abandoned by his mother at age 5, left in a bleak house in the middle of winter. He also had to overcome both an abusive brother and the death of his gambling-addict father whose life ended in destitution.
Despite a patchy school record, he completed his junior high school studies in a rural northeastern town and in 1965 moved to Tokyo at a time when Ja…

Philippines mayor accused by Duterte of drugs trade links shot dead

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A Philippine mayor accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of having links with the illegal drugs trade has been shot dead in a police raid.
Reynaldo Parojinog, mayor of the city of Ozamiz on Mindanao island, was killed with his wife and 10 others at his home as police served a warrant.
Officers were fired on by the mayor's security guards, officials said.
More than 7,000 people are said to have been killed since Mr Duterte launched a war on the drugs trade in July 2016.
Police were serving an arrest warrant when they were "met with a volley of fire" by Mr Parojinog's security guards, officials said.
"The Parojinogs, if you would recall, are included in President Duterte's list of people involved in the illegal drug trade," Mr Duterte's spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said in a statement.
A spokesman for the Parojinogs denied that there had been any exchange of fire and said the mayor's camp did not fire a shot.
Mr Parojinog's brother was also kill…

Indonesia ombudsman finds rights violations in execution of Nigerian

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The office of Indonesia's ombudsman has unearthed evidence of rights violations in the execution of a Nigerian drug convict in 2016, an official said on Friday.
Humphrey Jefferson was still seeking clemency from President Joko Widodo at the time of his execution, which meant he still had a chance of being pardoned, said Ninik Rahayu, an official of the ombudsman's office who is overseeing the case.
Mr. Jefferson, sentenced to death in 2004, had also sought a second judicial review of his case by the Supreme Court, but his request was denied by the Central Jakarta court without proper explanation, Rahayu said, in what she called maladministration.
If the court had taken on Mr. Jefferson's case, his execution would have had to be delayed until its final verdict.
"When one is given the death penalty, all of the procedures must be done according to the laws," Rahayu told reporters at her office.
"The rights of the person must be fully met before his sentence is…

Iran must not squander opportunity to end executions for drug-related offences

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Iranian lawmakers must not miss a historic opportunity to reject the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences and save the lives of thousands of people across the country, said Amnesty International and Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation today.
In the coming weeks, Iran's parliament is expected to vote on a bill that amends Iran's anti-narcotics law, but fails to abolish the death penalty for non-lethal drug-related offences as is required by international law.
Drug-related offences often linked to poverty, drug abuse and unemployment
"Instead of abolishing the death penalty for drug-related offences, the Iranian authorities are preparing to adopt a deeply disappointing piece of legislation, which will continue to fuel Iran's execution machine and help maintain its position as one of the world's top executioners," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
The 2 organizations are calling on…

Nevada schedules what could be 1st execution in a decade, but has no drugs to carry it out

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Nevada has a problem on its hands after a Clark County judge ordered an inmate executed: the state has no apparent way to carry it out.
District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti signed an order Thursday ordering Scott Raymond Dozier's execution for the week of Oct. 16. Dozier, 46, has voluntarily given up opportunities to appeal his decade-old death sentence and has repeatedly requested to die.
He was convicted in 2007 of robbing and killing a 22-year-old man at a Las Vegas hotel before dismembering the body. He was also convicted of another murder in Arizona.
Although the state has about 80 people on death row, most die in prison, and a volunteer is rare. Nevada hasn't had an execution since 2006, and only carried out 12 executions since 1977.
The state is required by law to use a lethal injection, but a drug needed to create the lethal injection cocktail has expired. Nevada found none of the 247 vendors it contacted last year were willing to replace it.
Numerous major pharmac…

Florida: Judge rejects challenge to new execution drugs

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A death row inmate scheduled to be executed next month failed in a bid to get a Jacksonville judge to delay his execution because of the state's new triple-drug lethal injection protocol.
Duval County Circuit Court Judge Tatiana Salvador on Friday rejected a request from Mark James Asay to put a hold on an Aug. 24 execution date scheduled by Gov. Rick Scott.
Asay's appeal included a challenge to a new lethal injection protocol --- which includes a drug never used before for executions in Florida, or in any other state --- adopted by the Florida Department of Corrections earlier this year. In its new protocol, Florida is substituting etomidate for midazolam as the critical first drug, used to sedate prisoners before injecting them with a paralytic and then a drug used to stop prisoners' hearts.
In a 30-page order issued Friday, Salvador ruled that Asay failed to prove that the new three-drug protocol is unconstitutional. Etomidate, also known by the brand name "Amidat…

Malaysia: Women accused of killing Kim Jong Un's half-brother face a possible death penalty if convicted

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A chemist's report that shows the banned VX nerve agent was used to kill the half brother of North Korea's leader needs further scrutiny, a lawyer for 1 of the 2 women accused of poisoning the man said Friday as he examined evidence ahead of a trial set for October.
High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin set an Oct. 2 trial date for Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who are accused of smearing Kim Jong Nam's face with banned VX nerve agent at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13. He died about 20 minutes later.
The women, who face a possible death penalty if convicted, say they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show.
Prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said he plans to call up to 40 witnesses, including 10 experts and a few foreigners.
The women appeared in court wearing traditional Malay dresses, smiling at their lawyers and embassy officials. They were handcuffed as they were led to the dock.
But…

Utah parents could face death penalty in death of their 3-year-old daughter

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OGDEN — In 2nd District Court Thursday, Weber County attorney Christopher Shaw told a judge that Miller Costello and Brenda Emile will require attorneys certified to handle death penalty cases.
Ogden couple accused of killing 3-year-old may ask for leave to attend funeral
Police responded to a 911 call on July 6 and found 3-year-old Angelina Costello dead. They observed that the girl appeared malnourished and had injuries consistent with prolonged abuse, according to the probable cause statement against her parents.
“Officers on scene immediately recognized the child victim had bruising, contusions, lacerations, burns, open sores and abrasions all over her face, hands, legs, head and neck,” the probable cause statement says.
Emile told officers she found the girl, who is the couple’s biological daughter, dead around 12:20 p.m. Thursday when she called police. 
Court documents say the 3-year-old appeared to be “extremely malnourished,” “cold to the touch and stiff with an apparent on…

India: Gopal Gandhi opposes death penalty in all cases

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The process to elect the Vice-President of the country has started. There is a straight fight between the NDA candidate Venkaiah Naidu, and Opposition’s Gopal Krishna Gandhi. But this piece is not about the election. It is about the place of death penalty in a civilised country like ours, in the context of the protests against Gopal Gandhi on the ground that he had asked for Yakub Menon’s death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment in the Mumbai blasts case, which had killed many innocent citizens. Headlines were flashed to say that Gopal Gandhi wanted mercy to be given to the terrorists. This was an incorrect interpretation of what he had said. It is not denied that Gopal Gandhi has been a long time opponent of death penalty. Around two years ago, the Law Commission of India had held a seminar on death penalty. I was one of the speakers there. I am for the abolition of death penalty. A near unanimous resolution was passed there for the abolition of death penalty. Consistent wi…

Family of Saudi disabled death-row protester appeal for help

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The family of a disabled man who faces execution in Saudi Arabia for allegedly attending protests have appealed for help to save his life – and given fresh details of the abuses he has suffered.
Munir al-Adam was arrested in 2012 in the midst of a Saudi crackdown on political protests. Born with a hearing and sight impairment, Munir was tortured so badly by Saudi police that he became completely deaf in one ear. He was forced to sign a false confession, later used to sentence him to death in a secretive trial. Last weekend, the Saudi Supreme Court confirmed Munir’s death sentence, along with those handed to 13 other alleged protesters. He could now be executed at any time.
In a statement given to human rights organization Reprieve, Munir’s family said: “We are issuing a warning of our son’s potential imminent execution. Now that he has been sentenced to death and the verdict has been confirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, his case is with the Ministry of Interior to …

Israel: Netanyahu demands death penalty for Halamish terrorist

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Visiting bereaved Salomon family, PM says government’s position supports execution for ‘such a base murderer’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he supports the death penalty for the terrorist who killed three members of the Salomon family on Friday night.
“The death penalty for terrorists –- it’s time to implement it in severe cases,” Netanyahu said in a conversation with family members of the victims, a video of which was posted on the prime minister’s Twitter account.
“It’s anchored in the law. You need the judges to rule unanimously on it, but if you want to know the government’s position and my position as prime minister –- in a case like this, of a base murderer like this -– he should be executed. He should simply not smile anymore.”
On Friday evening, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, from a nearby West Bank village, burst in to the Salomon family’s house in the West Bank settlement of Halamish armed with a large knife and stabbed to death Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughte…

Iran: Prisoners’ Families Plead for Stays of Executions Until Vote on Potentially Life-Saving Amendment

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The families of prisoners facing imminent execution gathered in front of the judiciary’s headquarters in Tehran on July 26, 2017 to demand a halt to pending executions until Iran’s Parliament votes on a bill that would remove the death penalty for low-level drug-related convictions.
Iraj Ghobadi and Kavous Maleki were transferred to solitary confinement in Parsilon Prison in Khorramabad, Lorestan Province, on July 20 apparently in preparation for their executions, a source close to the Ghobadi family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“Our argument is that Iraj and Kavous did not have prior criminal convictions,” said the source, who spoke with CHRI on the condition of anonymity. “Wait a little until the new law is passed and Iraj’s death sentence will change to life in prison. Don’t take his kids’ hope away.”
The two have been on death row for the past five years after being sentenced in a trial without legal representation.
“We had no idea when they were sentenced, an…