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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Pakistan executes 4 terrorists convicted by military courts

Pakistan Wednesday hanged 4 "hardcore" terrorists convicted of "heinous" terrorism-related offences by controversial military courts in the restive northwestern province, taking the number to over 160 since the Peshawar terror attack in 2014.

The terrorists belonging to a banned outfit were executed in a jail in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the worst hit due to violence by Taliban terrorists.

"They were involved in committing heinous offences relating to terrorism, including killing of innocent civilians, destruction of educational institutions, attacking Armed Forces of Pakistan and Law Enforcement Agencies," the army said.

It said the terrorists were awarded death sentence by the military courts which work in secrecy due to fear of attacks by militants.

Military courts were restored in March for another 2 years after their initial 2-year term expired in January.

The courts were set up after a constitutional amendment following a terror attack on an Army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014 which killed more than 150 people, most of them students.

Human rights group Justice Project Pakistan says 441 people have been executed since the Peshawar attack.

Pakistan has been fighting various extremist groups for over a decade. Militant attacks have killed tens of thousands of people.

The military courts have handed down the death penalty to more than 160 militants.

Source: business-standard.com, May 17, 2017

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