Iran: Annual report on the death penalty 2017

IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (MARCH 13, 2018): The 10th annual report on the death penalty in Iran by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM shows that in 2017 at least 517 people were executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. 
This number is comparable with the execution figures in 2016 and confirms the relative reduction in the use of the death penalty compared to the period between 2010 and 2015. 
Nevertheless, with an average of more than one execution every day and more than one execution per one million inhabitants in 2017, Iran remained the country with the highest number of executions per capita.
2017 Annual Report at a Glance:
At least 517 people were executed in 2017, an average of more than one execution per day111 executions (21%) were announced by official sources.Approximately 79% of all executions included in the 2017 report, i.e. 406 executions, were not announced by the authorities.At least 240 people (46% of all executions) were executed for murder charges - 98 more than in 2016.At le…

Texas: Court findings offer hope for death row inmate in case tainted by 'Dr. Death'

Even after the parole board refused to consider a prosecutor's rare plea for clemency, the condemned man at the center of a controversial death row case may have another shot at life after a favorable finding in Kerr County court.
Jeff Wood, a Kerrville man with a low IQ, was sent to death row under the so-called "law of parties" for his role in a 1996 store robbery gone wrong. As the getaway driver, Wood wasn't actually inside the building when Danny Reneau fired the shot that killed clerk Kriss Keeran.
In the more than two decades since the slaying, Wood's case has sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle - in part because of his low intelligence, in part because he wasn't the shooter, and in part because of testimony from a notorious forensic psychiatrist dubbed "Dr. Death" for his damning words in more than 100 capital cases.
Though he's not contesting his guilt, Wood is still fighting his capital sentence - and last year th…

Arizona death-row inmates killed by hepatitis C, not lethal injection

Since executions were put on hold by a federal judge in 2014, 5 Arizona death-row inmates have died of "natural causes." All of them were related to hepatitis C infections, according to attorneys and relatives of the dead prisoners.
The medical director at the Arizona prison complex that until last year housed the majority of death-row inmates recently testified that up to 80 % of inmates in that complex were infected with the disease.
Official Arizona Department of Corrections statistics paint a less dire picture.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne viral infection that mostly affects the liver, causing cirrhosis, or hardening of the liver, and cancer. It can complicate other maladies such as kidney disease and diabetes.
Once incurable, it now can be effectively treated with expensive antiviral medication. It is mostly contracted by sharing needles among drug users but can also be spread by sex, infected piercing or tattoo needles, or by sharing razors and toothbrushes.
If left un…

Gov. Kasich, heed Ohio Parole Board and don't execute William Montgomery

William Montgomery, 52, is slated to die on Ohio’s lethal injection gurney on April 11 for the March 8, 1986, robbery-motivated killing of Debra Ogle. 

The families of murder victims deserve the truth about what happened to our loved ones. We want the offenders punished, but we certainly don't want the wrong persons held accountable. Unless Gov. John Kasich acts on the recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board to not execute William Montgomery, that horrifically unfortunate scenario could become an unintended outcome of Ohio's next scheduled execution on April 11.
Montgomery was sentenced to be killed for his "alleged" murder of Debra Ogle. He also received a life sentence for his "alleged" killing of Cynthia Tincher. "Alleged," because there is simply too much doubt about whether Montgomery is actually their killer, as the Ohio Parole Board acknowledged Friday in voting 6-4 to recommend clemency in the case.
I know how painful it is to lose a loved…

Iran's Abuse of the Death Penalty Remains Largely Unchanged

On Monday, the Associated Press reported upon the death sentence that had been handed down for a member of the Sufi religious minority who was responsible for the deaths of 3 policemen during a large protest demonstration last month. Mohammad Salas claimed he had not intended to ram into the policemen with the bus that he was driving, but was instead trying to flee from the clashes between protesters and security forces.
The demonstrations turned violent after members of the Sufi order known as Gonabadi dervishes assembled in response to speculation that their leader Nour Ali Tabandeh was slated for arrest as part of the government's crackdown on political activists in the wake of nationwide protests in December and January. By some accounts, security forces did attempt to gain access to Tabandeh's home but were blocked by the masses of dervishes. In addition to the 3 deaths attributed to Salas, 2 members of the basij civilian militia were killed in a separate stabbing incide…

Death sentence reinstated for Mississippi's only woman on death row

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has reinstated the death sentence of Lisa Jo Chamberlin, Mississippi's only female death row inmate.
The ruling Tuesday came almost three years after a federal court ruling granting her a new trial in a double homicide in Hattiesburg.
The full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with the exception of Judge James Graves who recused himself, reviewed the judge's ruling and a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that voted 2-1 to affirm the ruling. 
On a motion by the Mississippi attorney general's office, the 5th Circuit agreed to hear the case. 
Special Assistant Attorney General Cameron Benton argued the two U.S. Court of Appeals judges put together unimpressive statistics and an incomplete comparative analysis to find the existence of discrimination in the striking of two black prospective jurors.
"There is ample proof in the record to suggest that the exercise of peremptory strikes was not motivated by racial animus,"…

Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew receives reprieve before execution

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution for a Missouri inmate who argued that a medical condition could result in the process causing him undue suffering.
Russell Bucklew was scheduled to die by injection Tuesday evening for killing a former girlfriend’s new boyfriend during a violent rampage in 1996.
In a statement, the Supreme Court said it granted the stay in the execution. But the court says that 4 justices — John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — would have allowed the execution to go ahead.
It is the 2nd time that the nation’s highest court has halted the execution of Bucklew over concerns about his rare medical condition. Bucklew, 49, was within an hour of execution in May 2014 when the U.S. Supreme Court halted it over concerns about Bucklew’s rare medical condition, cavernous hemangioma. The ailment causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, tumors in his head and throat and on his lip, and vein problems.
His attorney, Cheryl Pilate,…

Georgia: Prosecutors excluded black jurors in seven death-penalty cases

DAs’ notes said jurors were ‘slow’ or ‘ignorant’ or ‘fat’
In handwritten notes, Columbus prosecutors described prospective African-American jurors as “slow,” “ignorant,” “con artist” and “fat.” They also jotted a “B” or an “N” next to black people’s names on jury lists and routinely ranked them as the least desirable jurors. This astonishing system of race discrimination, revealed in a court motion filed Monday, was intended to exclude black people from juries in seven death-penalty cases against black defendants in the 1970s.
The motion was filed on behalf of Johnny Lee Gates, who is serving a sentence of life without parole for the 1976 rape and murder of Katrina Wright. It contends that Gates deserves a new trial because prosecutors made a concerted effort to keep black people off his jury. In Gates’ case, the prosecution struck all four prospective black jurors.
“Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to a fair trial that’s free of race discrimination,” said Patr…

Japan marks anniversary of sarin attacks as execution speculation grows

Tuesday marked the 23rd anniversary of a deadly sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system, as speculation grows that members of the cult behind it could soon be executed.
At Kasumigaseki Station, one of the targets of the attack, subway staff gathered at 8 a.m., around the same time the events occurred on March 20, 1995, to observe a moment of silence and offer flowers.
Toyohiko Otomo, the 57-year-old chief of the station, and Shizue Takahashi, 71, who lost her husband, Kazumasa, an assistant stationmaster, were among those who offered flowers at the station.
"We will work together to make further efforts to ensure the safety of passengers so that they can feel safe using the service," Tokyo Metro Co. said in a statement.
The subway operator set up stands to allow people to offer flowers at Kasumigaseki, Kodenmacho, Tsukiji and three other stations where lives were lost in the attack.
13 people were killed and thousands more injured when members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult rele…

Man Sentenced to Death for Killing Cops in Tehran Riot

An Iranian court on Monday handed down death sentence for a rioter that had driven a bus into a group of police officers during a February mob attack in north Tehran.
Mohammad Salas, driver of the bus that killed 3 police forces and wounded a number of others during the February 19 disturbance on Tehran's Pasdaran Street, was sentenced to death under a court ruling released on Monday.
The convict appeared in 3 court sessions before facing the death penalty. He will have a period of 20 days for an appeal to the court.
During the clashes on Pasdaran Street, Salas drove a bus into a group of police officers, killing 3 and wounding a number of others. 
In a separate attack, 1 member of the Basij forces was run over and killed, while another was stabbed to death.
Police spokesperson said 30 police forces were injured and many public and private properties were destroyed in the riot.
The security forces were trying to quell a disturbance involving Gonabadi Dervishes, a Sufi community i…