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

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…

Bahraini Court Upholds Military Tribunal Death Sentences

Bahrain’s highest court has upheld the death sentences handed down by a military tribunal to four men accused of plotting to kill the head of the country’s armed forces, concluding a secretive and unfair trial that has fallen far short of international standards of due process. They face imminent execution, along with four other men previously convicted and sentenced to death based on false confessions extracted through torture.
Telecoms engineer Sayed Alawi Sayed Hussain was abducted by Bahrain’s security forces on 24 October, 2016. Another of the defendants, Fadel Radhi, was taken from his home on September 29, 2016. Both men were ‘disappeared’ for months: their families were not told where they were being held or what they were accused of.
In April 2017, Bahrain amended its constitution to enable military tribunals to try civilians accused of threatening the security of the state. Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, supposedly the intended target of the plot, appointed the judges that c…

6 North Koreans executed by firing squad after trying to smuggle out nation's phonebook

6 North Koreans were executed by firing squad after trying to smuggle out the nation's phonebook, it has emerged.
The residents from the capital Pyongyang were executed at the end of last year on the charge of treason for attempting to leak the contents of a directory to the outside world.
Their relatives were booted out of the city and exiled in the countryside. North Korea's phonebook is considered a secret document.
It contains the phone numbers of factories and companies, managers, party chairmen and other high-ranking officials and office numbers and can sell for up to around 5,700 pounds in China.
'The authorities relayed the message to legal organisations through lecture materials stating that, 'At the end of last year, 6 Pyongyang residents who attempted to distribute a phonebook outside of the country were executed.'
'The point was emphasised that those who commit such acts can be punished at any moment,' a high-ranking source in the capital told …

China: Jurors to attend death penalty cases

Chinese jurors are expected to participate in hearing cases in which defendants may face a death penalty, a draft law said on Wednesday.
The draft law on people's jurors was submitted to the bimonthly session of the country's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, for the 2nd reading. 
It was first discussed among the legislators last year.
Compared to the first version that stated criminal cases where defendants were likely to be sentenced to over 10 years in prison or life imprisonment, the latest one has added the death penalty, showing the nation's cautious attitude to the death sentence as well as ensuring the public participant in case hearings.
The latest draft also said some people could not become jurors, such as defaulters, arbitrators, lawyers whose license are revoked and those with serious violations.
Meanwhile, it stipulates that citizens aged 28 years old or above and who have received high school education or above c…

Malawi Debates Death Penalty to Halt Attacks on Albinos

It has been 24 years since the Malawi government executed a convicted murderer, but President Peter Mutharika has called for discussions on implementing the death penalty to deter attacks on people with albinism.
False beliefs that the body parts of albinos bring good fortune have led to a series of attacks on them in Malawi. Since 2013, at least 20 albinos have been killed and 130 injured in the southern African country.
Most recently, police officers, a medical officer and a Roman Catholic priest were charged in last month's slaying of MacDonald Masambuka, 22, whose body was found dismembered.
Mutharika wants the nation to debate imposing the death penalty for murder.
While the country has a death penalty law on the books, it hasn't been used since the change to a democratic government in 1994. Instead, convicted murderers remain in prison for life, even if they are given a death sentence.
That is cruel because there is no pardon or commutation of the sentence, says Imran S…

Iran: At least 21 executions in 1 week; 13 hanged collectively

Iranian regime sent 19 prisoners to the gallows in cities of Gohardasht, Urmia, Hamedan,Tabriz, Kermanshah and Ilam prisons. 8 of the executed were hanged collectively in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj on April 18th.
On the same day, Bahman Varmazyar, a young prisoner who was a sports coach, was executed in Hamadan Prison. A day before, a prisoner was executed in Tabriz's central prison.
On April 23, 9 prisoners were sent to the gallows. 5 of them were hanged collectively in Urmia prion, 3 prisoners in Keramanshah, and on prisoner in Ilam.
Unable to deal with the deadly crises, in particular, the increasing protests of the people fed up of injustice and repression, the religious tyranny ruling the country has increased the number of executions in different cities to intensify the atmosphere of intimidation in society.
Meanwhile, a 50-year-old prisoner Mohsen Parvas committed suicide and passed away on April 21 in protest at the harsh pressures imposed on him.
In yet another occasion,…

Iraq Shelves Death Sentence Of German Woman Who Joined IS

An Iraqi court has lifted the death penalty handed to a German woman for belonging to the Islamic State jihadist group, sentencing her to life in prison instead, German foreign ministry sources said Tuesday.
The German woman of Moroccan origin, identified by German media as Lamia K., was condemned to death by hanging in January for providing “logistical support and helping the terrorist group to carry out crimes”.
“The foreign ministry confirms that the death penalty against a German citizen in Iraq was commuted to a life sentence. The verdict is not yet final,” a ministry source told AFP.
The woman continues to receive consular assistance from the German embassy in Baghdad, the source added.
Lamia K. left Germany with her two daughters in 2014 to join IS.
One of the daughters was killed while with the jihadists, a judicial source told AFP.
Lamia K. and her other daughter were arrested by Iraqi forces during the final stages of the battle to oust IS from its stronghold Mosul last Jul…

Death penalty for alleged Mossad spies sentenced in Algeria

Leader of the squad was sentenced to the death penalty, other six members were given 10 year jail sentence
Seven individuals accused of spying on behalf of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, were sentenced to imprisonment and death on Monday by a criminal court in Algeria, local media reported on Tuesday.
The leader of the squad, a man of Lebanese descent with Liberian citizenship, was charged with seeking “to harm the security of Algeria” and was given the death penalty.
The other six members of group, who were said to be of African origin, were given ten year jail sentences and each fined 20 million Algerian dinar.
According to Jerusalem Post citing local Algerian media, they were charged with espionage “possession and dissemination of documents that glorified terrorism,” and undermining state security.
The defendants reportedly pleaded not guilty to their charges.
Algeria's Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui said the exposure of the "international spy ring" working for…

Indiana: Prosecutor seeks death penalty as probe continues in slaying of deputy

The man who requested the death penalty last month during his first court appearance on murder charges in the death of Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Pickett may get exactly what he was asking for.
Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer announced Tuesday that his office is seeking the death penalty against Anthony Louis Baumgardt, 21, in the fatal shooting of the 34-year-old law enforcement officer.
Meyer also revealed that additional criminal charges, including felony murder counts, may be filed in connection to the case as the investigation continues.
"To give you a picture of where we're at, it's like doing a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and we've got it 95 percent complete," Meyer said. "We can see the image. ... We just need a few more pieces to confirm that, and things take time." Meyer said.
He said his office has issued dozens of subpoenas.
Meyer said the decision to seek the death penalty was not taken lightly. He spent the weeks following …

Victim’s family pardons five Indians on death row in UAE

Indians who killed man in 2011 group fight return home after benefactor helps them pay blood money
Dubai: Five Indians, who were spared death penalty for murdering a compatriot in a group fight, are now back home after the victim’s family accepted the blood money and pardoned them.
The unmarried youths had a reunion with their families — two of them after nine years — after they served about six-and-a-half years in jail following the murder of Virendra Chauhan.
Dharmendra, Harwinder Singh, Ranjit Ram, Dalwinder Singh and Sucha Singh had been sentenced to death after they were convicted of killing Chauhan during a brawl between two groups of bootleggers in Sharjah in November 2011.
"I wanted them to feel guilty for indulging in the fight and work hard to repay their families. So, I gave them only the amount that their families were falling short of."  - S.P. Singh Oberoi, Indian hotelier who helped the convicts 
Their release became possible after their appeal to be spared de…

Australia: Call to shut Real Bodies exhibition over fears it uses executed prisoners

Organisers of Sydney exhibit deny human rights groups’ claims the bodies are from Chinese political prisoners
A group of lawyers, academics and human rights campaigners has called on the federal government to shut down a controversial Sydney exhibition, amid claims the show could be displaying the bodies of executed Chinese political prisoners.
Protesters in Sydney have been urging a boycott of Real Bodies: The Exhibition, which showcases bodies and anatomical specimens that have been preserved through plasticisation.
The exhibition is billed as featuring the largest collection of dead bodies and human specimens to be viewed in Australia, and organisers say it has been approved by the New South Wales Department of Health.
The Imagine Exhibitions chief executive, Tom Zaller, told News Corp – which is also a media sponsor of the exhibition – earlier this month that the bodies came from China, a detail that concerns human rights activists.
Susie Hughes, the executive director of the Inte…