"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs bill to shorten time of death penalty appeals

Gov. Kay Ivey Friday signed a bill that would shorten the death penalty appeals process in Alabama.

Ivey signed the legislation early Friday afternoon, according to her office. Both supporters and opponents of the bill agreed that it would cut the time in the death penalty appeals process.

But proponents said it would ensure the swifter enactment of justice, while opponents said it would make it more likely Alabama would execute innocent people.

The signing came less than 24 hours after the state executed Thomas Arthur for the 1982 murder of businessman Troy Wicker. Ivey’s office said Friday the timing was a coincidence.

Inmates condemned to death have two rounds of state appeals. The first one is a direct appeal, based on the facts of the case. The second, known as a Rule 32 appeal, allows the inmate to raise post-conviction issues, such as them competence of his or her defense attorney. Under the new law, sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, the two appeals would run parallel to each other.

The inmate would have a year from the filing of the brief in their direct appeal to file a Rule 32 motion. The circuit court would have 90 days to dismiss claims or set them for hearing.

The legislation would not affect an inmate's federal appeals. Appeals of capital sentences can take decades. Arthur was first sentenced to death in 1983 and sentenced again after two further trials in 1992. He outlived seven death sentences before his execution Thursday night.

The Alabama attorney general’s office long sought the change. In a statement Friday afternoon, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the bill stemmed from work between the attorney general’s office, prosecutors, victims’ groups and the Legislature.

“Our collective experiences with capital cases compelled us to pursue an improved appeals process for our state—one that is fairer, more efficient, and does not prolong the suffering of victims, but provides justice to all parties,” the statement said.

The legislation drew criticism from the American Bar Association and anti-death penalty groups, who said it could create situations where an inmate would have to challenge the competence of an attorney at the same time the attorney is defending them on direct appeal. ABA President Linda Klein wrote a letter to legislative leaders in early May, asking them to oppose the legislation.

“While the ABA respects the importance of finality and judicial efficiency, quicker resolution of cases where a life is at stake should not take priority over ensuring the fundamental fairness and accuracy of those convictions,” the letter said.

Frank Knaack, executive director of Alabama Appleseed, which opposed the bill, said it would "create all kinds of problems" for post-conviction attorneys trying to investigate claims of inadequate counsel.

"We were very optimistic when (Ivey) signed the (judicial) override bill that we were moving in a direction ensuring a fair and accurate death penalty process," he said. "This takes us in the opposite direction."

The Alabama Department of Corrections says as of Friday there were 183 people on death row – 178 men and five women. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty group, the number of death sentences handed down in Alabama fell from 25 in 1998 to six in 2015.

Source: Montgomery Advertiser, Brian Lyman, May 26, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Former top Chinese cop Zhao Liping executed for murder

Former top Chinese cop Zhao Liping
Top Chinese cop Zhao Liping executed for murder
A former regional police chief in China was executed for murder, state media said Friday, after reports described his victim as a lover more than three decades his junior.

Zhao Liping, 65, was found guilty of murder, bribery and possession of firearms and explosives by a court in Taiyuan, the capital of the northern province of Shanxi, in November.

China’s supreme court announced Friday that Zhao had been executed after it approved the sentence, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

China carries out executions by lethal injection or shooting, but the method used this time was not specified.

Zhao was detained in 2015 in Chifeng on suspicion of killing a 28-year-old woman with whom he “had an intimate relationship” because she wanted to expose his wrongdoings, Chinese media reported earlier.

Zhao opened fire on the woman, who reportedly survived the first two rounds, but after she fled he chased her down in a car and shot her in the head.

Zhao headed the police in Inner Mongolia for seven years until he retired in 2012, and was also a deputy head of the regional People’s Political Consultative Conference, a Communist-controlled debating chamber.

Many fallen Chinese officials have been found to have mistresses, and corruption investigations have often been triggered by allegations from spurned or angry women.

Source: Hong Kong Free Press, May 26, 2017


Former Chinese official executed following supreme court's approval


CHINA'S Supreme People's Court (SPC) announced Friday that Zhao Liping, a former senior political advisor in northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, had been executed after the SPC approved the death sentence.

Zhao, former vice chairman of the Inner Mongolia regional committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was convicted of intentional homicide, taking bribes and possession of firearms, according to an SPC statement.

Zhao was found guilty of having shot dead a 26-year old woman, identified only with her surname of Li, in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, on March 20, 2015.

He also took advantage of his post to secure business contracts and official positions for associates, and accepted bribes totaling 23.68 million yuan (3.45 million U.S. dollars) from 2008 to 2010, as the police chief of Inner Mongolia.

During the investigation police located two guns, 49 bullets and 91 detonators that led back to Zhao.

The SPC stated that the death penalty was given on the basis of clear facts and solid and sufficient evidence. Zhao had committed crimes with serious consequences and vile social effects.

The Intermediate People's Court of Taiyuan in north China's Shanxi Province executed Zhao Friday.

Source: Shanghai Daily, May 26, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Indonesia's Blasphemy Law Should Not Be Repealed: PKS

Jakarta. Despite the mounting pressure locally and internationally for Indonesia to review Article 156a of the Criminal Code on blasphemy, the Justice and Prosperity Party, or PKS, said that the law should not be repealed.

"Constitutionally and by law, the blasphemy law [embodied in Article 156a of the Criminal Code] is really important in respecting and honoring all religions that are officially acknowledged by the government," Jazuli Juwaini, PKS chairman said on Thursday (18/05).

Calls for Indonesia to abolish the controversial article were at the forefront after former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.

The United Nations Human Rights Council also recommended that the Indonesian government revise its laws.

The Constitutional Court has turned down previous requests to abolish the law. It was challenged after a judicial review was brought to the court in 2010 and 2013, but the court decided that the law should remain on the basis that it is needed to preserve harmony, religious tolerance and limit acts that could potentially disrupt public order.

The Constitutional Court also said that many other nations have criminalized blasphemy.

In fact, anti-blasphemy laws are not unique to Indonesia. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2014, about a quarter of the world’s countries and territories — or 26 percent— have laws against blasphemy.

Jazuli who is also a member of the House of Representatives Commission I — which oversees defense, information, foreign and political affairs — agreed with the Constitutional Court's decisions, saying that the law is needed to maintain harmony in the country.

He cited Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution that says that all citizens are guaranteed the freedom to worship, each according to his or her own religion or belief.

"It should not be abolished, we want to maintain harmony, because if the article isn't there, people can just insult [...] religion. This will trigger disharmony that could create national instability," he said.

PKS was one of the supporters of the blasphemy trial against Ahok.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, Yustinus Paat, May 18, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Indonesian caning of gay men strains Australian relationship, says Liberal MP

Caning of two gay men in Aceh: A "cruel and sickening punishment."
Caning of two gay men in Aceh: A "cruel and sickening punishment."
Trent Zimmerman says Australia cannot ignore the ‘cruel and sickening’ punishment, and Derryn Hinch wants foreign aid suspended

A Liberal MP says the “cruel and sickening” caning of two gay men in Aceh has cast a cloud over Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.

Australia should not stand by and ignore the inhumane treatment of the men who were caned 85 times under sharia law for having consensual sex, the gay backbencher Trent Zimmerman told parliament on Tuesday.

He was grateful the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, had raised the matter with her Indonesian counterparts but called on others, including the Muslim community in Australia, to take a stand.

“Our friendship with Indonesia has been strengthened by our perception of a pluralistic, democratic and moderate Islamic nation,” Zimmerman said. “Sadly, recent events have given us cause to question that understanding.

“Nothing should absolve the Indonesian government of its obligation to ensure all its citizens are afforded the basic human rights it has agreed to uphold through its international commitments.”

The crossbench senator Derryn Hinch has called for Australia to suspend its foreign aid to Indonesia over the matter.

“I believe Australian aid should be suspended to show our disapproval and disgust,” Hinch said. “I’m disappointed by our government’s silence on this cruelty.”

Source: The Guardian, AAP, May 26, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Alabama executes Tommy Arthur

Tommy Arthur
Tommy Arthur
(CNN) Alabama executed death row inmate Tommy Arthur early Friday after a lengthy court battle that included multiple lethal injection delays.

Arthur, 75, was convicted in the 1982 murder-for-hire of romantic rival Troy Wicker.

The inmate, who was nicknamed the "Houdini" of death row because he'd had seven prior execution dates postponed, died by lethal injection at the Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay Thursday, then lifted it later that night, leading to his execution.

"No governor covets the responsibility of weighing the merits of life or death; but it is a burden I accept as part of my pledge to uphold the laws of this state," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

"Three times Tommy Arthur was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Each time his case was reviewed thoroughly at every level of both our state and federal courts, and the appellate process has ensured that the rights of the accused were protected."

Phone access


Arthur's lawyers had filed motions arguing that Alabama's method of execution was cruel and unusual, and that the attorneys should have access to a cellphone while witnessing the execution.

Before the Supreme Court decision, stay requests had been rejected by the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the governor.

Arthur's lawyers had asked Ivey to delay the execution so DNA evidence could be examined from the killing for which he was sentenced to die.

Two executions were stopped when Arthur's convictions were overturned. Arthur has appealed other execution orders by arguing the combination of lethal injection drugs would cause him physical pain because of a heart condition.


Multiple killings


Arthur was convicted of killing Wicker of Muscle Shoals by shooting him in the right eye on February 1, 1982, according to court documents.

He was a work release prisoner at that time. He had been convicted of killing his sister-in-law in 1977, also by shooting her in the right eye.

Arthur was in a romantic relationship with Judy Wicker, Troy Wicker's wife, the Birmingham News reported.

She initially told authorities that a burglar wearing a wig raped her and killed her husband, the Birmingham News reported. She later testified she paid Arthur $10,000 in life insurance money to kill her husband.

Arthur, who had pleaded not guilty, was first convicted in 1983, but that verdict was overturned on appeal, the News reported.

A 1987 conviction was overturned and he was convicted again in 1991.

Source: CNN, By Faith Karimi and Ralph Ellis, May 26, 2015


Alabama executes Tommy Arthur: Inmate dies for 1982 murder-for-hire


Alabama's death chamber
Alabama's death chamber
On his eighth scheduled execution date, Alabama Death Row inmate Tommy Arthur was put to death by lethal injection for a 1982 murder for hire.

Arthur made a thumbs up gesture with his left hand to his daughter Sherrie who was in the witness room between Arthur's attorney Suhana Han and Jordan Razza, a long-time legal adivsor to Arthur. At one point he also winked towards his daughter.

Arthur, his voice quivering and choking up, read out the names of his children. "I'm sorry I failed you as a father. I love you more than anything on Earth," he said.

He did not admit to or mention anything about the crime that landed him on death row - the shooting death of Troy Wicker Jr.

The execution began about 11:50 p.m., ten minutes before the death warrant was to expire, said Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn.

As long as the execution begins before midnight then the Alabama Attorney General stated they should complete the execution, Dunn said. "It went exactly according to protocol," he said.

The execution was to have begun at 6 p.m. but was delayed by appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the execution had not begun by midnight, the state would have had to sought another execution date.

The execution was in contrast to the Dec. 8 execution of Alabama Death Row inmate Ronald Bert Smith, who for 13 minutes heaved and gasped for breath and two consciousness tests were performed before the lethal drugs were administered. Smith's attorneys called it "botched" but Dunn said it too had gone to protocol.

Arthur slowly drifted off after they began administering the first of three drugs about 11:50 p.m. and his breathing became more shallow. He was pronounced dead at 12:15 p.m.

Gov. Kay Ivey's office issued this statement minutes after Arthur's death:

"How to proceed when faced with a potential execution is one of the most difficult decisions I will ever have to make as governor. After much prayer and careful and deliberate consideration, I thought it best to allow the decision of a jury of Tommy Arthur's peers to stand. In allowing the execution to proceed this evening, the rule of law was upheld, and Mr. Wicker's family can finally rest knowing that his murderer has faced justice.

"Three times Tommy Arthur was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Each time his case was reviewed thoroughly at every level of both our state and federal courts, and the appellate process has ensured that the rights of the accused were protected.

"No governor covets the responsibility of weighing the merits of life or death; but it is a burden I accept as part of my pledge to uphold the laws of this state. Mr. Arthur was rightfully convicted and sentenced, and tonight, that sentence was rightfully and justly carried out."

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he hoped the family of Troy Wicker can begin to recover.

"Thirty-four years after he was first sentenced to death for the murder of a Colbert County man, Thomas Arthur's protracted attempt to escape justice is finally at an end. Most importantly, tonight, the family of Troy Wicker can begin the long-delayed process of recovery from a painful loss."

Wicker's two sons witnessed the execution, but had no statement, prison officials said.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority opinion denying a stay despite Arthur's attorneys challenges to the method of execution using the controversial drug midazolam and whether Arthur's attorneys should have access to a phone during the execution. The number of justices who voted for or against the stay was not included in the order.

"Alabama plans to execute Thomas Arthur tonight using a three-drug lethal-injection protocol that uses midazolam as a sedative. I continue to doubt whether midazolam is capable of rendering prisoners insensate to the excruciating pain of lethal injection and thus whether midazolam may be constitutionally used in lethal injection protocols," according to her dissent. "Here, the State has--with the blessing of the courts below-- compounded the risks inherent in the use of midazolam by denying Arthur's counsel access to a phone through which to seek legal relief if the execution fails to proceed as planned."

Arthur's attorneys had argued that they should have a constitutional right to access to the courts through the execution. "Its (the court's) action means that when Thomas Arthur enters the execution chamber tonight, he will leave his constitutional rights at the door," Sotomayor stated in her dissent.

Arthur, 75, was the second oldest inmate on death row. He also was the third-longest serving inmate among Alabama's 184 death row inmates.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: AL.com, Kent Faulk, May 26, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Saudi Arabia upholds death sentence for deaf, tortured protester

Saudi Arabia has upheld a protest-related death sentence for a protester who was tortured so badly that he was rendered completely deaf in one ear. The judgment marks the first such move for several months, and comes days after President Trump visited the Kingdom.

Munir Adam (23), who has impaired sight and hearing, was arrested in the wake of political protests in 2012. Despite medical records proving his disability, Saudi police tortured him until he lost all hearing in one ear, and forced him to sign a false confession. The forced statement was used as the sole piece of evidence against him in a secretive trial at the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC).

Today, the appellate division of the SCC is understood to have upheld Munir’s death sentence. He now has only one appeal left before the King signs his execution warrant – after which he could be executed at any time, without notification to this family.

The SCC’s latest death sentence appears to break a period of several months during which the court has not upheld any protest-related death sentences. It comes days after President Trump made his first visit to the Kingdom.

Reprieve had urged the President to use his visit to raise the cases of protesters – including juveniles – who face execution. However, the White House is understood not to have raised human rights issues during the trip. One Administration official – Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross – faced criticism after telling journalists there was “not a single hint of a protester” during the visit.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve said:

“Munir’s case is utterly shocking – the White House should be appalled that our Saudi allies tortured a disabled protester until he lost his hearing then sentenced him to death on the basis of a forced ‘confession.’ Today’s judgment shows that, by failing to raise human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, President Trump has emboldened the Kingdom to continue the torture and execution of protesters. The Trump Administration must now urgently stand up for American values – they must call for the release of Munir, and all others who face execution for simply exercising freedom of expression.”

➤ To read more about the death penalty in Saudi Arabia click here

Source: Reprieve, May 25, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Gaza: Hamas executes 3 over commander's murder

The execution was filmed and broadcast live from a nearby building.
The execution was filmed and broadcast live from a nearby building.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas executed 3 people in the Gaza Strip on Thursday over the assassination of 1 of its military leaders allegedly on behalf of Israel.

2 men were hanged to death in Gaza City over the killing of Mazen Faqha in March, while a 3rd was executed by firing squad, said an AFP correspondent who attended the executions.

Hundreds of people were allowed to watch the executions, though the streets around the site were closed to the public.

1 of those executed, Ashraf Abu Leila, was named as the alleged assassin while the other 2 men, who were not named, were convicted of assisting him.

The executions, which come only 2 weeks after the announcement of their arrests, were immediately condemned by human rights activists.

Human Rights Watch said the "rush" to kill the men "smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law".

Mazen Faqha was shot dead on March 24 near his house in Gaza City.

He had been in charge of forming cells for Hamas's military wing in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas immediately blamed its arch-enemy Israel, with which it has fought 3 wars since 2008, and implemented strict border restrictions on those seeking to leave the Palestinian enclave.

Source: al-monitor.com, May 25, 2017


Hams executes three over murder of Gaza commander


The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in Gaza on Thursday said it executed the suspected killer of Mazen Fuqaha, along with his two alleged accomplices.

The Interior Ministry said the the suspected killer and one of the alleged accomplices were hanged, while the second alleged accomplice was shot to death.

Grainy images of what a Gaza-based news organization said were the executions were broadcast on Facebook Live. The images appeared to be shot from a distant building.

Following the executions, Hamas warned Gazans against publishing images of the executions.

The suspected killer and alleged accomplices were sentenced to death by a Hamas military court on Sunday, which said they took part in the killing of Fuqaha.

Fuqaha, formerly a senior leader of Hamas’s armed wing, was mysteriously assassinated on March 24 in front of his house in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza.

Human rights groups criticized the haste in which the three men were sentenced.

“Rushing to put men to death based on an unreviewable decision of a special military court days after announcing their arrests… smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch.

Hamas formed a special court to try the suspected killer and two alleged accomplices, which quickly reached a verdict.

Hamas military prosecutor Fadl al-Jadeili has dismissed human rights groups’ criticism of the special court, saying they do not have all the details of Fuqaha’s assassination.

Since taking over the Gaza Strip in an armed coup in 2007, Hamas has executed 28 people sentenced to death by its courts, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Source: Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2017


Hamas kills three men in execution partially streamed on Facebook


Three men executed by hanging and firing squad were convicted of involvement in killing senior military figure Mazen Faqha

Hamas has killed three men in Gaza accused of assassinating one of its senior members, in executions that appear to have been partially streamed live on Facebook.

The broadcast on the page of Gaza Now, a local news outlet, raises further questions over Facebook’s ability to moderate violent content at a time when its moderation procedures are under scrutiny following leaks of files on how the company deals with controversial and offensive material.

The shaky handheld footage, which appeared to have been filmed on a balcony, was described in Arabic as showing the executions. The Guardian could not verify its authenticity.

Hamas’ interior ministry said two men were hanged on Thursday and one was killed by firing squad for their part in the killing of Mazen Faqha, a senior figure in the military wing of the Islamist group.

In the footage, only distant people, moving vehicles and what appears to be a gallows covered in black cloth are visible. The video appeared to show the same screened gallows structure seen in still photographs taken during its construction.

A recording of the live broadcast, which lasted about 30 minutes, was later taken down.

Since taking over the Gaza Strip in an armed coup in 2007, Hamas has executed 28 people who were sentenced to death by its courts, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Faqha, 38, was killed in a garage in his apartment building in March after dropping off his family. Hamas said the attacker used a weapon with a silencer, allowing him to escape undetected.

Hamas accused Israel of killing Faqha through collaborators and launched a manhunt.

Ashraf Abu Leila, Hisham al-Aloul and Abdallah al-Nashar were quickly tried, sentenced on 16 May and executed just over a week later, raising questions about the judicial process.

The killings were condemned by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights, which said the special field military court that issued the sentences “was constituted solely for this trial, the first such instance since the Hamas takeover of Gaza”.

Human Rights Watch questioned the speed of the trial process and its reliability, and the use of the death penalty by Hamas.

Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of HRW’s Middle East division, said: “Rushing to put men to death based on an unreviewable decision of a special military court, days after announcing their arrests and airing videoed confessions, smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law.

“Reliance on confessions in a system where coercion, torture and deprivation of detainee’s rights are prevalent, and [there are] other apparent due process violations, further taint[s] the court’s verdicts. Death as government-sanctioned punishment is inherently cruel and always wrong, no matter the circumstance.”

Speaking before the executions, Amnesty International said the court “utterly disregarded international fair trial standards”.

Source: The Guardian, May 25, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Stop executions and abolish the death penalty - Malaysian Bar

The Malaysian Bar is deeply troubled that 2 persons - Yong Kar Mun, aged 48, and an individual whose identity has not been reported - were executed by hanging at Sungai Buloh Prison yesterday morning. The prison authorities there had written to the family of Yong Kar Mun on May 19, 2017 to inform them that he would be hanged to death soon, and that they could pay him a final visit on May 23, 2017.

Yong Kar Mun had been convicted under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 for discharging a firearm when committing a robbery, and the mandatory death penalty was meted out.

The Malaysian Bar is appalled that the 2 executions yesterday bring the total of reported executions this year to 4: Rames Batumalai, aged 44, and his brother Suthar Batumalai, aged 39, were reportedly executed at Kajang Prison on March 15, 2017.

Every individual has an inherent right to life - as enshrined in Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution - which is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that have been committed.

We do not condone or excuse any crimes that have been committed. There is no denying that guilty persons ought to receive punishment, and justice must be served. However, to be just and effective, punishment must always be proportionate to the gravity of offences committed, and the State must never resort to taking a human life. Furthermore, studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty.

The death penalty is an extreme, abhorrent and inhumane punishment, and must not be taken lightly, as it is irreversible.

The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to act swiftly to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, stop executions, and commute each death sentence to one of life imprisonment.

Source: themalaymailonline.com, May 25, 2017. This statement is submitted by George Varughese, president of the Malaysian Bar.

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Iran: Mass Executions Immediately After Election Farce

Nine executions on May 23

The mullahs’ regime in Iran has immediately relaunched its domestic crackdown machine after the election farce, especially through executions and torture in prisons across the country. 

Ten inmates in the prisons of Tabriz, Zahedan, Ardebil, Kermanshah and Isfahan, and Karaj Central Prison were hanged on May 22 and 23. Nine of these cases were carried out on May 23 alone.

Authorities in Zahedan executed 30-year-old Abdulkarim Shahnavazi and placed a noose on another prisoner. 

After witnessing Shahnavazi’s death, the latter was brought down from the gallows and told his execution will be carried in 40 days.

Seeking to rein in increasing protests and the abhorrence of the younger generation in cities across the country, the mullahs’ regime has yet again resorted to mass executions.

While referring to the huge numbers of intelligence and security agents deployed on Friday, May 19, Iranian Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli said, “All youths were in the streets during the last four nights. The situation was very concerning. Our state has enemies.”

Source: Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, May 24, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Execution of man arrested at 16 exposes Iran’s disregard for child rights

Iran has demonstrated its utter disregard for children’s rights by executing a man arrested for a crime committed while he was 16 years old in a brazen violation of international human rights law, said Amnesty International.

The man, who has been identified in state media only by the name “Asqar”, was sentenced to death by public hanging nearly 30 years ago. He was executed at Karaj’s Central Prison near Tehran on 23 May 2017.

“With this execution, the Iranian authorities’ repeated claims to the UN and EU that they are moving away from the use of death penalty against juvenile offenders ring horrifically hollow. 

It is absolutely appalling that two decades after it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to display such a chilling disregard for children’s rights,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“This is the third execution this year of someone arrested as a child in Iran, demonstrating the authorities’ clear determination to continue flouting international human rights law. The authorities should halt any further plans for executions and amend Iran’s Islamic Penal Code to abolish the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders once and for all.”

“Asqar” was originally sentenced to death in 1988 after being convicted of the fatal stabbing of his 12-year-old neighbour, according to state media. The sentence was later upheld by the Supreme Court. He was due to be executed at the age of 18 but escaped from prison shortly before the scheduled execution date; he was on the run until his re-arrest in April 2015.

Iran is one of the last few countries in the world that still executes juvenile offenders. International human rights law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty against a person who was under 18 at the time of the crime.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty at all times – regardless of who is accused, the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution. The organization has consistently called on all countries that still use the death penalty to establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the punishment.

Source: Amnesty International, May 25, 2016


Iran: Juvenile offender hanged


IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (24. MAY 2017): A juvenile offender was hanged in the Central Prison of Karaj yesterday morning. 

The prisoner who is identified by a state run website as Asghar, was charged with a murder 30 years ago. At that time Asghar was 16 years old.

According to the Iranian news website Namnak, Asghar had managed to escape 18 months after his arrest in late 1980's, but was again arrested one year ago.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) calls for international condemnation of Iranian authorities' execution of juvenile offenders. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said: "Asghar is the third juvenile offender being executed in 2017. This is a clear violation of Iran's international obligations and must be condemned by the international community. We especially call on the European Union to resume their pressure on the Iranian authorities in order to stop juvenile executions".

Source: Iran Human Rights, May 25, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Homosexuality: from the death penalty to gay marriage

Taiwan's top court ruled government must recognise same-sex unions within two years
Taiwan's top court ruled government must recognise same-sex unions within 2 years.
Same-sex marriage, which Taiwan's top court ruled in favour of Wednesday, is currently legal in around 20 countries around the world, 13 of which are in pioneering Europe.

Such unions are, however, still illegal in most parts of Africa and in the Middle East, where homosexuality is in some cases punishable by the death penalty.

European pioneers


The Netherlands in April 2001 became the first country in the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in a civil ceremony.

Twelve European countries followed: Belgium, Britain (except Northern Ireland), Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Some European countries only allow homosexuals to enter into civil partnerships, including Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Estonia became in October 2014 the first former Soviet republic to authorise this kind of civil union.

Many eastern European countries -- including Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia -- still deny homosexuals the right to marry or enter into unions.

Slovenians in December 2015 voted in a referendum against efforts by their national parliament to legalise gay marriage.

Some 15 western European countries allow same-sex couples to adopt children, whether within marriage or civil partnership. They include Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. Others like Finland, Germany and Slovenia allow gay people to adopt the child of their partner.

Ten countries allow lesbian couples to conceive children with the help of assisted reproductive technologies (ART): Austria, Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and the Nordic countries.

Surrogacy remains restricted across most of the continent.

Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands allow for volunteer surrogacy and in Greece, women can be reimbursed for the costs of carrying a child for someone else.

Progress in America


Canada led the way in North America, authorising same-sex marriage and adoptions in June 2005. ART and surrogacy are also allowed.

In the United States, with gay marriages still banned in 14 of the 50 states, a historic Supreme Court decision in June 2015 legalised gay marriage nationwide.

Mexico's federal capital led the way in Latin America towards civil unions in 2007 and full marriages in 2009.

Same sex marriages are also legal in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia.


A crime in Africa


On a continent where around 30 countries ban homosexuality, only in South Africa can gays legally marry, adopt or have children by ART and surrogacy.

In Sudan, Somalia and Mauritania homosexuals face the death penalty, while only a handful of countries -- Gabon, Ivory Coast, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Mozambique -- have decriminalised the practice.


Hostility in Middle East, Asia


Israel leads the Middle East in terms of respect for homosexual rights, and recognizes gay marriages performed elsewhere, though such marriages are not performed in Israel itself. Gay couples can jointly adopt children.

Homosexuality is theoretically punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while Lebanon is more tolerant than other Arab countries.

In Asia, after Taiwan, the taboo surrounding homosexuality is slowly eroding in Vietnam and Nepal.


Asia Pacific


The only country in the region that allows gays to marry is New Zealand, which passed a law in April 2013, 27 years after homosexuality was decriminalised.

The most recent attempt to legalise gay marriage in Australia hinged on a planned referendum that was blocked in November 2016.

Source: Agence France-Presse, May 24, 2017

🔎 Related content:

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

'It's mind over matter': Alabama prisoner faces execution date for the eighth time

Tommy Arthur
Tommy Arthur
7 times in 16 years Tommy Arthur has had his execution delayed. As he prepares for what could be his final appointment with the death chamber, he tells Ed Pilkington about a grisly - and traumatic - cycle

Tommy Arthur is caught in a ghoulish production of Groundhog Day. 7 times over the past 16 years he has been scheduled to be put to death in Alabama, and 7 times the courts have delayed the execution, most recently in November just minutes before he was strapped to the gurney.

Now Arthur, 75, finds himself once again caught in this grisly cycle, with only hours to go before his 8th and possibly final appointment with the death chamber. At 6pm on Thursday, barring intervention by Alabama's governor or the courts, he will be pumped with medical drugs until he dies.

To come so close to being killed by the state is extraordinary on any occasion, but 8 times? How has he endured repeated execution dates in 2001, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016 and now 25 May 2017?

"It's a question of mind over matter," Arthur said in a phone interview from death row in Alabama's Holman correctional facility. "You can either let a stressful situation break you so you can't breathe, or you hold on to hope and use your every waking moment to fight."

By this late point in the process, most condemned inmates would be ordering their final meal. Not Arthur. "I don't believe in that last meal baloney - I never have the appetite. When they're trying to kill you, you're not hungry."

Other condemned prisoners at this stage would also be consoling themselves with a stream of visits from their loved ones. Not Arthur. He gave up having visitors after the sixth scheduled execution as the stress on both him and them was too much.

"It almost killed my eldest daughter, Sherrie," he said. "She came to 6 execution dates, and the stress of her father about to be killed was so traumatic it damaged her heart, she almost lost her business and home. So I told her to disconnect, I didn't want her coming any more. She didn't come to the 7th, and she won't be coming to this one."

Tommy Arthur has spent the past 34 years on death row.

Tommy Arthur is one of the longest serving capital prisoners in the US. He has spent the past 34 years on death row, 25 of those in the same 5ft x 8ft cell from which he emerges only briefly every other day to take a shower. He has a vivid way of describing his living conditions: "You couldn't put a baboon in this cell, they'd shut the zoo down."

Arthur was sentenced to death for the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker. The state accused him of carrying out a contract killing at the behest of Wicker's wife Judy, with whom Arthur had been having an affair; Judy Wicker was prosecuted separately and given life imprisonment.

At the time of the murder, Arthur was out of prison on work release, having served 5 years of a life sentence for the 2nd-degree murder of Eloise West, the sister of his common-law wife. He pleaded guilty to that unpremeditated killing, though he insisted it was an accident fueled by alcohol.

By contrast, he has always claimed innocence in the murder of Troy Wicker. Over the years he has been deeply involved in pursuing his legal appeals, and speaks of his own case with striking fluency and command of detail.

He points out that at her own trial Judy Wicker testified that the murderer was a burglar in her home who had beaten her up and raped her before killing her husband. It was only 5 years later, after she had been offered a deal to change her evidence that would see her get out of prison after serving only 10 years, that she pointed the finger at Arthur.

His lawyer, Suhana Han, emphasised the weakness of the prosecution case against him. "Neither a fingerprint or a weapon, nor any other physical evidence connects Arthur to the murder of Troy Wicker," she told the Guardian.

The prisoner and his legal team have been pushing for the latest DNA testing technology to be applied to crime scene materials, though the courts have rebuffed their requests and crucial evidence has gone missing. A rape kit taken from Judy Wicker at the time of the murder was lost or destroyed years ago, the state claims, while hairs found near the victim's body and in a wig presumed to have been used by the killer have not been subjected to the most sophisticated forensic techniques.

Arthur has sent a handwritten letter to Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey, pleading with her, so far without reply: "Please Governor Ivey, don't kill me with this evidence never being DNA-tested," he wrote.

Perhaps the best remaining hope for the condemned man is that the US supreme court will once again step in and postpone the execution. His lawyers have an emergency motion before the 11th circuit court of appeals relating to the sedative midazolam that has been used in several botched executions in modern times.

Midazolam was deployed in the most recent Alabama execution of Ron Smith in December, when the inmate heaved and coughed for 13 minutes. The motion argues that were the state to go ahead and use midazolam again on Thursday, despite what happened to Smith, it would be guilty of intentionally inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on Arthur, banned under the US constitution.

As Thursday's deadline approaches, Tommy Arthur's room for manoeuvre closes. Asked how he was preparing for the possibility that this time he might actually be executed, he said.

He had only 1 wish: to be allowed to issue a public apology to his children. "I failed them as a father, and I'm so sorry for that," he said.

As it happens, he will be able to deliver that message in person to Sherrie. A few hours after the phone interview with Arthur had ended, a member of his legal team contacted the Guardian to say that there had been a change of plan: his eldest daughter had decided that despite the trauma she wanted to be present - she will be by his side should his 8th summons to the death chamber turn out to be his last.

Source: The Guardian, May 24, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!