Monday, September 22, 2014

Iran: Two Pakistani women hanged

(file photo)
NCRI - The Iranian regime's henchmen hanged five prisoners on Saturday in the main prison in city of Zahedan, in southeastern Iran.

The five inmates that included two women citizens of Pakistan had been arrested on drug related charges.

The Saturday's hanging of five prisoners in Zahedan was not announced in official media.

Last week, on Thursday, September 17, 2014, at least 17 prisoners were hanged in cities across Iran, including five in public. The executions were carried out in cities of Shiraz, Marvdasht, Kerman and Bandar Abbas. A group of four prisoners were hanged in public in Shiraz while another group of eight sent to gallows in Shabab Prison in city of Kerman.

Reacting to the UN Secretary-General’s annual report to the UN General Assembly, which referred to some aspects of the catastrophic situation of human rights in Iran, the Iranian regime's chief justice, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said last week: “Who is this Mr. Secretary-General to tell us you should stop the executions? Who are they to say so? The death sentence for Corruption on Earth is an internal matter… Much of the things that were said in the official report of an important international organization; they are cheap, baseless words that lack reasoning.”

The inaction by the international community, particularly the Western countries, regarding violations of human rights in Iran, including over 1,000 executions since Hassan Rouhani assumed office, has emboldened the clerical regime to continue and ramp up torture, execution and suppression.

Source: NCRI, Sept. 21, 2014

Japan: Man sentenced to death for murder of financier, wife

TOKYO — The chief suspect in the murder of a wealthy Swiss-based Japanese asset manager and his wife whose bodies were found buried in a vacant lot in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, in February 2013, has been handed a death sentence.

The ruling was handed down by the Tokyo District Court against Tsuyoshi Watanabe, 44, on Friday. Watanabe, 44, had pleaded not guilty in the trial, which began on Aug 20, and which was heard by lay judges.

Watanabe and another man, Takaaki Kuwahara, 42, were charged with killing financier Makoto Shimomi, 51, and his 48-year-old wife Mie, who had been living in Switzerland for four years prior to their deaths. They were said to live a high-flying lifestyle in Europe and owned apartments in Tokyo and Chiba, as well as several luxury cars.

The case gained a lot of media attention at the time.

As police closed in on Watanabe, he tried to commit suicide by swallowing a toilet cleaning liquid. He was found lying beside his car on a road in the middle of a field in Miyakojima. After he was discharged from hospital, he was flown to Tokyo.

Prosecutors said that Watanabe, a former fishery company executive, bore a grudge against Shimomi, blaming him for the loss of hundreds of millions of yen in investments, TBS reported.

The court heard that the Shimomis had come back to Japan for a visit in November 2012 and were scheduled to return to Switzerland on Dec 14. However, they disappeared after leaving their Ginza apartment on Dec 7. They were seen getting into a car and were never heard from again.

The couple told friends that they had been invited by “an acquaintance” to a party in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, on Dec 7, but police found no evidence of any scheduled party.

The two bodies were found buried in a shallow grave in a vacant lot in Kuki. Police said both victims were strangled to death and there were no personal belongings on them.

Investigators also revealed that after the Shimomis went missing, Makoto’s credit card was used unsuccessfully at Tokyo Station by a man in a white face mask attempting to purchase 3 million yen worth of shinkansen ticket coupons. Some of their personal belongings were sold at pawnshops in Tokyo, police said.

The court heard that Watanabe had been communicating by phone and email with Shimomi for about a year about investment deals, TBS reported.

Watanabe owned the plot of land where the bodies were found.

Watanabe’s lawyer said he intends to appeal the death sentence.

Source: Japan Today, Sept. 21, 2014

Iran: 17 prisoners executed in one day, 5 in public

Mullahs’ judiciary chief: Who is [the UN] Secretary-General to tell us stop the executions; these words are cheap, baseless and lack reasoning. Executions for corruption on earth is an internal matter.

NCRI - On Thursday, September 17, 2014, at least 17 prisoners were hanged in cities across Iran, including five in public. The executions were carried out in cities of Shiraz, Marvdasht, Kerman and Bandar Abbas. A group of four prisoners were hanged in public in Shiraz while another group of eight sent to gallows in Shabab Prison in city of Kerman.

The Thursday's executions followed reports of more executions that had been carried out in other cities in Iran. A group of seven young men, mostly in their 20s, were executed on September 10 in cities of Karaj and Hamadan.

Prior to that, 15 prisoners were hanged on September 1 in Karaj's Ghezel Hessar Prison and in prisons in cities of Hamadan and Zahedan. Ten of those hanged were prisoners who had been protesting in Ghezel Hessar Prison.

Thirteen other prisoners were hanged on August 26 and 28 in groups of 8 and 5 in the main prison in city of Bandar Abbas.

Meanwhile, reacting to the UN Secretary-General’s annual report to the UN General Assembly, which referred to some aspects of the catastrophic situation of human rights in Iran, the Iranian regime's chief justice, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said: “Who is this Mr. Secretary-General to tell us you should stop the executions? Who are they to say so? The death sentence for Corruption on Earth is an internal matter… Much of the things that were said in the official report of an important international organization; they are cheap, baseless words that lack reasoning.”

The inaction by the international community, particularly the Western countries, regarding crimes committed by the clerical regime, including over 1,000 executions since Hassan Rouhani assumed office, has emboldened the clerical regime to continue and ramp up torture, execution and suppression.

Iran’s human rights dossier should be referred to the United Nations Security Council. This is not only an essential step to stop the cycle of crime and execution, but it is necessary for adherence to the values that the United Nations has been established to defend.

Priest launches campaign to save Hongkongers on death row in Vietnam

Hong Kong activist Father Franco Mella yesterday called on the Vietnamese government to spare the lives of 2 elderly Hongkongers on death row in the country. 

With support from Amnesty International, the Italian Catholic priest launched the appeal outside Mong Kok East station. More than 500 people had signed by last night. 

The 2 men were part of a group of 5 ethnic Chinese arrested in Vietnam's Guangnam province in May 2008 for trafficking more than 7 tonnes of cannabis resin. 

All 5 - now aged between 57 and 67 - received the death penalty in May 2010. 

"The men can be executed at any moment," said Mella, who has rallied against the use of the death penalty across the globe, particularly on the mainland. 

"Hong Kong does not have the death penalty, so it should try to convince the Vietnamese government not to kill the men." 

Between 2003 and June last year, at least 75 Hong Kong citizens were sentenced to death or executed abroad, according to Amnesty International figures. 

Connie Chan Man-wai, a senior campaigner with the rights group, said the drive to attract support would continue for two weeks. The petition will then be taken to the Vietnamese consulate in Wan Chai. 

One of the convicted Hongkongers, 67-year-old Ngan Chiu-kuen, had been ill-treated by the prison authorities and denied access to medical services despite his failing health, the group said. 

Mella, who first came to Hong Kong in 1974, is a well-known human rights activist. He first took up the cause of the city's homeless and impoverished, at one point joining a squatter camp in Diamond Hill. 

Since then he has championed a variety of causes with some success. He is particularly known for helping boat families in the former Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter in the 1980s, and as a tireless campaigner for right of abode for cross-border families. 

He once went without food for 5 days in support of 7 men who were jailed over a fatal fire in Immigration Tower that started during an abode-seekers' protest in 2000. 

In 2011 he was denied a visa to visit the mainland, a decision that Mella put down to troubled relations between Beijing and the Vatican. 

Source: South China Morning Post, Sept. 21, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Death row inmates challenge electric chair in Tennessee execution protocol

After state allowed use of chair in the event of a drug shortage judge permits inmates to object to chair in ongoing lawsuit

Ten death row inmates already challenging Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol were permitted by a judge Thursday to amend their lawsuit to include objections to the use of the electric chair.

The general assembly passed a law earlier this year allowing prisoners to be electrocuted if Tennessee Department of Correction officials were unable to obtain the drug used for lethal injection.

Prior to that, prisoners could not be forced to die by the electric chair, although they were allowed to choose that method under some circumstances.

The death row plaintiffs claim the new law violates both the US and Tennessee constitutions. Among other things, they claim it violates evolving standards of decency. They also claim that the law is too vague. And they question whether the state’s electric chair actually operates as it is supposed to.

Davidson County chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled on Wednesday that the inmates could amend their lawsuit to include the new claims. The original lawsuit challenged the state’s new lethal injection protocol, adopted in September 2013. It switched execution from the use of three drugs to just one, pentobarbital.

The switch was a response to legal challenges over the effectiveness of the three-drug mixture and a nationwide shortage of one of them, sodium thiopental. Those issues have effectively prevented any executions in Tennessee for nearly five years.

Source: The Guardian, Sept. 18, 2014

Federal judge says he doubts Oklahoma can be ready for planned executions

Judge will consider postponing executions if state, which botched execution of Clayton Lockett, proves unable to act quickly in implementing new guidelines

A federal judge said Thursday he is concerned Oklahoma will not be able to implement new guidelines and training for executions before three inmates are scheduled to die this fall.

“I’m having a hard time seeing how all of this can be done,” US district judge Stephen Friot said during a hearing in a lawsuit filed by 21 death-row inmates in Oklahoma who allege that their executions could be cruel and violate their constitutional rights.

“The timing issues become that much more prominent,” Friot said in denying the state’s motion to stay the lawsuit. He suggested the state seek a delay of executions while the lawsuit continues and said there would be an injunction hearing “pretty soon”, but did not set a specific date.

Assistant attorney general John Hadden told Friot during the hearing that he needed to consult with prison and other state officials before deciding on a course of action. Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, said in an email to the Associated Press that the office had no comment.

If the state does nothing, Friot said he will consider the inmates’ request to postpone all executions.

Oklahoma recently said it would revamp its procedures for administering lethal injections, retrain its staff and renovate its death chamber after the 29 April execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and moaned before he was declared dead 43 minutes after his execution began.

Source: The Guardian, Sept. 18, 2014

View to a kill: Indian hangman prepares for his first execution

Pawan Kumar
Pawan Kumar, who learned his trade from his father and grandfather, is paid £30 a month as a registered executioner

The phone call will come some time in the next few weeks, and when it does Pawan Kumar will be ready.

"I have already done a test run, with a sack of sand the weight of the criminal. I have been waiting for this moment all my life," said the part-time clothes hawker in the northern Indian town of Meerut.

For while selling shirts from the back of a bicycle pays Kumar's rent, his vocation lies elsewhere: the 52-year-old is one of a handful of officially registered professional hangmen in India.

So far, however, he has never actually carried out an execution.

Last month, he was called to a jail in the city of Jaipur, 250 miles south of Meerut, to execute a condemned prisoner. At the last minute though, the man was reprieved.

In early September, Kumar was scheduled to hang Surinder Koli, one of India's most notorious murderers. But another last-minute decision meant the execution was postponed to allow further legal argument, though just until the end of next month.

"I wouldn't say I was disappointed. That would be a personal thing. I am just sorry that a man who has committed such heinous acts has not died yet," said Kumar.

In India, the death sentence is reserved for cases that are deemed "the rarest of the rare". In the past decade, there have been only three executions. The 350 convicted prisoners who theoretically face hanging include four men found guilty of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in 2012.

Source: The Guardian, September 18, 2014

Saudi beheads Pakistani for heroin smuggling

Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded a Pakistani who attempted to smuggle heroin into the kingdom, the interior ministry said, adding to the more than 50 people executed this year.

"Sanaullah Mohammed Amir was executed in Qatif governorate in Eastern Province today because he tried to smuggle a large quantity of heroin" into the country, said the ministry, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The sentence against Amir was endorsed by appeal and supreme courts before a royal order was issued to carry it out, the interior ministry said.

His decapitation takes to 55 the number of people beheaded in the ultra-conservative Gulf nation so far this year, compared with 78 people in all of 2013, according to an AFP count.

A United Nations independent expert last week called on Saudi Arabia to implement an immediate moratorium.

"Despite several calls by human rights bodies, Saudi Arabia continues to execute individuals with appalling regularity and in flagrant disregard of international law standards," said Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"The trials are by all accounts grossly unfair. Defendants are often not allowed a lawyer and death sentences were imposed following confessions obtained under torture."

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, homosexuality and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Source: AFP, September 19, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pennsylvania’s Lethal Injection Fiasco

Despite having the fourth-highest death row population in the country, Pennsylvania isn’t terribly good at carrying out the ultimate penalty. A third of the 184 inmates now on death row there received their sentences more than two decades ago, and at least 24 have died of natural causes before their sentences could be carried out.

Legal experts, including the American Bar Association, blame the poor state of inmate representation in capital cases.

For years there were no pre-qualifications for an attorney to handle capital cases in the commonwealth. And Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that provides no post-conviction financial support for defense appeals, meaning defendants are typically required to turn to county services and the aid of less-than-able court-appointed attorneys. As a result, cases are often wildly mismanaged. Nearly as many death convictions are overturned in Pennsylvania as are handed down each year, the majority of them due to ineffective assistance of counsel.

Most Pennsylvanians now support a moratorium on capital punishment until its efficacy can be determined. Opponents of the death penalty see the state’s drug problem as a sign that that time has come.

“The mere fact that it’s so difficult to score these drugs spotlights how isolated we are from most of civilized society in our obsession with executing people,” said Kathleen Lucas, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “I doubt that any governor would want his or her legacy to be a torture session like those we’ve had recently in states like Oklahoma and Arizona.”

Source: The Daily Beast, Christopher Moraff, Sept. 18, 2014

Five Public Executions in Iran

Shiraz, Iran, September 18, 2014
The execution wave continues in Iran. According to the official and unofficial reports, in the last 30 days at least 95 people have been executed in different Iranian cities. This is an average of more than 3 executions everyday. Iran Human Rights urges the international community to condemn the execution wave in Iran.

Iran Human Rights, September 18, 2014: Five people were hanged publicly in the cities of Shiraz and Sardasht (Province of Fars, Southern Iran) early Thursday morning September 18., reported the Iranian state media.

According to the Young Journalists Club (YJC), a news website close to the Iranian security forces, four of the men were hanged in the “Azadi (Liberty) Square” of Shiraz. These men were identified as: “Bahram”, “Edalat” and “Mohammad” charged with kidnapping and rape, and “Jahanbakhsh B.” charged with “corruption on the earth” and armed robbery.

One man identified as “Hossein Sh.” was hanged publicly in Sardasht. He was charged with “Corruption on earth” and armed robbery, said the report.

Pictures of the public executions in Shiraz shows children watching the executions.

Source: Iran Human Rights, Sept. 18, 2014

(Warning: Graphic Content) Photos of the public execution:

Shiraz, Iran, September 18, 2014 - Darkness at Noon

Texas executes Lisa Coleman

Lisa Ann Coleman
Lisa Ann Coleman becomes the 1st Tarrant County woman put to death in more than 3 decades

Despite a flurry of last-minute appeals, the execution of Lisa Ann Coleman proceeded on Wednesday night at the Texas State Penitentiary Huntsville Unit.

She was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m. local time.

Coleman is the 1st woman put to death from Tarrant County since the death penalty was reinstated in 1982.

She was convicted in 2006 of starving her girlfriend's 9-year-old son Devontae Williams to death.

The dead boy's mother, Marcella Williams, later pleaded guilty and received a life sentence.

Coleman's former defense attorney Fred Cummings said the case serves as a good example of why capital punishment needs reform.

"Williams had a long history with CPS; she was the boy's mother. She was as culpable in the death of Devontae Williams as my client, and that is what seems unfair," Cummings said.

Cummings, who was once a prosecutor, told News 8 in a recent interview that he remembered the case well.

The defense team tried to convince jurors that Coleman didn't deserve to die, but that proved difficult when they saw graphic photos of Devontae weighing only 35 pounds and severely emaciated.

"The photographs of this poor child were so overwhelming, we couldn't overcome that with the jury," he said. "What more could I have done to keep this from happening? And that is going to be something I will always think about."

Cummings also noted that Coleman had a prior criminal history, while Williams only had a record with Child Protective Services.

The Coleman family declined to comment through their current attorneys.

An appeal filed with the 5th Circuit Court this week was denied. A certiorari petition and stay request was submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Parole has also voted against clemency in the case.

Dixie Bersano, who helped prosecute Coleman in 2006, told News 8 in a statement:

This 9-year-old child suffered a horrific death at the hands of Lisa Ann Coleman. Davontae died of malnutrition, a slow and cruel process. There was not an inch on his body that had not been bruised or scarred or injured. The jury assessed the appropriate punishment.

According to court documents, when paramedics responded to Coleman and Williams' Arlington apartment in 2004 they found Devontae "clad only in bandages and a diaper [and] so 'emaciated and underweight' that it was 'shocking.'" The boy weighed only 35 pounds when his body was found in July, 2004.

Source: WFAA News, Sept. 17, 2014

Texas set to execute Lisa Coleman for gruesome murder of child

Holding cells at Huntsville Unit, Huntsville, TX, where
inmates spend their last moments before being put
to death in the chamber at the far end of the corridor.
Woman convicted of murder in death of Davontae Williams to be only the 15th woman in the US executed since 1976

When emergency services arrived at the home Lisa Coleman shared with her lover they found the bruised and emaciated dead body of nine-year-old Davontae Williams clad only in bandages and a diaper.

Ten years later, Coleman is set to be executed in Texas for her role in the boy’s death. Barring the unlikely success of a last-minute appeal to the supreme court, on Wednesday at 6pm CT, the 38-year-old will become only the 15th woman put to death in the US since capital punishment was restored in 1976.

Though women commit about one in 10 murders in the US they account for only 1% of executions. But the jury in Tarrant County was persuaded to hand down the ultimate punishment after hearing testimony at Coleman’s trial that detailed the gruesome treatment the child suffered at a low-rent apartment complex a short drive south of the Dallas Cowboys’ NFL stadium.

A pediatrician identified more than 250 wounds on his corpse, which weighed less than 36 pounds, the typical weight of a child roughly half his age. He appeared to have been hit with a golf club. A doctor found that injuries to Davontae’s hands, arms and ankles suggested he had been bound repeatedly and concluded that the cause of death was malnutrition with pneumonia. The defence claimed that he accidentally drowned in his own vomit.

Coleman was in a relationship with the boy’s mother, Marcella Williams, and they lived together at the apartment. Davontae was known to Texas child protective services, who had repeatedly investigated Williams and removed him from her custody for a period in the 1990s. But his mother sought to keep him hidden from the authorities and avoided bringing him to a doctor, fearful he would be taken away. First responders were called to the apartment on the morning of 26 July 2004, after a report that he was having trouble breathing.

In June 2006, Coleman was convicted of capital murder despite her lawyers’ attempts to argue her background made her an unsuitable guardian but not a deliberately violent killer. According to court documents she has bipolar disorder and endured a deeply troubled upbringing. Her mother became pregnant with her aged 13 after being raped by a family member. Coleman was physically and sexually abused by family members and grew up in foster care, where she may also have been sexually abused.

Her mother rarely visited her in care and gave her the nickname “Pig”. She was knifed in the back by a cousin aged 11, shortly after she learned through the taunts of several cousins that she was born as a result of rape. By the age of 16 she had used drugs, started drinking and had given birth to a child of her own. Before Davontae’s death, she had a criminal record for burglary and a drug-related offence.

Coleman’s latest appeal hinged on the technical question of whether Davontae could be considered kidnapped inside his home. The legal “aggravator” that raised the charge to capital murder was the court’s conclusion that the child had been confined in his house and kept away from others, meeting the definition of a kidnapping even though there was no element of transportation.

Her lawyers contend that her original legal team failed to properly challenge this counter-intuitive interpretation and that they have uncovered witnesses who say they often saw Davontae outside and that he was not hidden from visitors. As a result, they claim, Coleman did not kidnap the child and is not eligible for the death penalty. The federal fifth circuit appeals court rejected this argument on Tuesday.

“The state singled Lisa out and figured some way to get her the death penalty because she was black, a lesbian and an easy target … it was a slam dunk,” said one of her attorneys, John Stickels. “The facts of the case were horrible,” he said. “We are not asking for her to be released, we are just asking the state to be fair and follow the law.”

Dixie Bersano, one of the trial prosecutors, said in a statement: “This nine-year-old child suffered a horrific death at the hands of Lisa Ann Coleman. Davontae died of malnutrition, a slow and cruel process. There was not an inch on his body that had not been bruised or scarred or injured. The jury assessed the appropriate punishment.”

Coleman will be the third American woman given a lethal injection since September 2010, when Virginia caused an outcry by putting Teresa Lewis to death for hiring hitmen to kill her husband and stepson for an insurance payout. Lewis was only narrowly above the intellectual disability threshold, while the two gunmen were given life sentences. Since then, 159 men have been executed.

Last year, Texas executed Kimberly McCarthy, who had the dubious distinction of being the 500th prisoner put to death by the Lone Star state since it resumed the practice in 1982. Suzanne Basso followed last February, also at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, 70 miles north of Houston.

Only 10.5% of homicides from 1980-2008 were committed by women, according to US Department of Justice statistics. Less than 3% of current Texas death row inmates are female: eight out of 275 people.

“This does feel different going into this execution than other executions,” said Brad Levenson, director of the Austin-based Office of Capital Writs, which since 2010 has worked with indigent defendants sentenced to death in Texas, including Coleman. “We as an office have only had one other female client,” he said. “I don’t know what the statistics bear out, I would only be surmising that perhaps jurors have a more difficult time giving the death penalty to a woman than a man, it also could be that the state doesn’t pursue as vigorously the death penalty in females as males.”

Some 14 women in seven states have been executed in the modern era, compared with 1,374 men in 34 states. “If anything gender might play a role that might be more favourable to women although there’s not really statistical proof of that because there’s relatively few cases,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“It’s not just whether a murder’s been committed but whether it’s an aggravated murder, usually a murder accompanied by physical abuse or another crime such as robbery, kidnapping or committed by someone with a history of violence. To begin with, women commit fewer murders – and they certainly commit fewer of these murders that society considers more heinous in the sense of being accompanied by other acts. Women are almost always killing someone they know, not a stranger, and it may be their only violent crime in their life.”

Marcella Williams was tried after Coleman, pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence. While the couple’s gender made them unusual suspects in a capital murder case, their contrasting treatment despite ostensibly similar roles is common.

“A lot of crimes involve more than one person and it’s what we call a race to the courthouse or a race to the prosecutor’s office: who will plead guilty and then be the one cooperating with the prosecution? Only one person gets the deal,” said Dieter.

Source: The Guardian, Tom Dart, September 17, 2014

DPN: "Almost all my [Death Penalty] clients should have been taken out of their homes when they were children. They weren't. Nobody had any interest in them until, as a result of nobody's interest in them, they became menaces, at which point society did become interested, if only to kill them." -- David R. Dow, Texas Public Defender Service attorney

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sudan: Killers of Chinese oil workers hanged

Sudan has hanged 2 people convicted over the killing of Chinese oil workers and damaging an oil pipeline in troubled South Kordofan State 6 years ago. 

The Sudanese ministry of Justice confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the management of the Federal Kober Prison in Khartoum has executed the death penalty on the 2 convicts. 

They were fighters of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) found guilty of killing the Chinese workers who were working at the Abu Dafra oil field in West Kordofan in 2008. 

17 others Chinese workers were freed after spending a long time in captivity, the ministry added. 

JEM has strongly condemned the execution of the convicts whom he described as freedom fighters claiming none of its ex combatants were involved in the death of the Chinese. 

JEM spokesman Jibril Adam Bilal described the trial of the pair as politically motivated. 

On 18 October 2008, nine Chinese oil workers and a Sudanese driver were said to have been abducted from the Abu Dafra oilfield. 

The bodies of 5 Chinese workers were found a few days later near the area where they were abducted. 

Source:, Sept. 17, 2014

Darfur rebels convicted of murder executed 

On Sunday, the management of the federal Kober prison in Khartoum North carried-out the death penalty of 2 rebels, accused of killing Chinese workers in West Kordofan. 

The members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were sentenced to death on charges of murdering the 5 Chinese who were working at the Abu Dafra oil field in West Kordofan in 2008. 17 others were acquitted. 

On 18 October 2008, a group of 35 JEM rebels kidnapped nine Chinese oil workers and a Sudanese driver at the Abu Dafra oil field. The bodies of 5 workers were found a few days later. 

JEM strongly condemned the execution of the "freedom fighters" in Kober prison, stressing that "no JEM combatant had anything to do with the assassination of the Chinese in Abu Dafra". 

Jibril Adam Bilal, the spokesman for the movement, told Radio Dabanga that the trial, in which the two were convicted, was politically motivated. "It was directed by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and has nothing to do with the judiciary in the country." 

He stressed the need to investigate and document "this crime committed against innocent people" by human rights organisations. 

Source:, Sept. 17, 2014

Iran: Prisoners hanged in Qom and Uromiyeh

(file photo)

As the wave of executions in Iran continue unabated under Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime henchmen hanged a prisoner in city of Qum on Tuesday. Another prisoner was hanged in city of Uromiyeh in north western Iran on Monday. 

The prisoner hanged in the main prison in city of Qum was identified as Q.S., state-run news agency IRNA reported. He had been arrested on drug related charges. The execution in Uromiyeh prison has not been covered by the media. 

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's said in his annual report to the General Assembly expressed alarm at the recent increase in executions in Iran. 

The report said: the promises made by Hassan Rouhani "have not yet led to significant improvements, and restrictions on freedom of expression continue to affect many areas of life." 

He also criticized Tehran for carrying out death sentences on juveniles. "According to information gathered from reliable sources, more than 160 juveniles are currently on death row and at least 2 have been executed in recent months for crimes that they committed when they were younger than 18," Ban's report said. 

Under so-called 'moderate' Hassan Rouhani the country has faced highest number of executions in a year compared to any Iranian regime's president for the past 25 years. 

Source: NCR-Iran, Sept. 17, 2014

The “Death Row Dinners” Restaurant In London

The people behind a death row-themed pop-up restaurant that planned to open in east London are “considering their next steps” after a huge online backlash.

Death Row Dinners’ website had a series of black-and-white images of death row inmates with menus around their necks. Alongside the photos, it said, “Eat like it’s your last meal on earth,” and asked, “What would your last meal be?”

The £50-per-head restaurant experience hoped to let Londoners enjoy the idea of their very own last meal, “without the nasty execution bit”.

Under the “why?” section of the site, there is a description of the history of last meals, with a light-hearted reference to the fact that the ritual still exists in the countries that practice the death penalty.

Source: BuzzFeedNews, Sept. 16, 2014

DPN: Stupidity knows no limits.

Related articles:
- 'Last Meals', a series of oil paintings by death penalty artist Kate MacDonald, September 2011
- Big picture: Death Row Prisoners' Last Meals, April 2012

Bangladesh court commutes death sentence of Islamist political leader

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh's Supreme Court commuted on Wednesday the death sentence of an Islamist political leader whose conviction last year for war crimes during the nation's 1971 war for independence sparked deadly protests.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, one of the top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, must remain in prison "for the rest of his natural life," Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain said.

The judge did not explain his reason for reducing the sentence.

Jamaat-e-Islami called for a daylong general strike for Thursday to denounce the verdict, saying Sayedee was innocent.

A war crimes tribunal convicted Sayedee in February 2013 on eight counts involving mass killings, rape and atrocities committed during the nine-month war against Pakistan in 1971. His death sentence touched off days of clashes that killed at least 70 people across the country.

Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, campaigned against the independence war but denies committing any atrocities. Bangladesh says the war killed 3 million people and forced millions more to flee to neighboring India.

Source: Mail Online, September 17, 2014

Texas: Lisa Coleman's execution set for Wednesday

Lisa Coleman
An Arlington woman who abused and starved the 9-year-old son of her live-in girlfriend is set to be executed Wednesday, the 1st Tarrant County woman to be put to death since executions resumed in Texas in 1982.

Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, was convicted in 2006 in the death of Davontae Williams, 1 of 3 children of Marcella Williams.

Davontae's body was found July 26, 2004. He had been beaten and bound, weighed 35 pounds and his body bore more than 250 scars, according to evidence presented at trial.

Initially, both Coleman and Williams were charged with capital murder.

Coleman's appellate attorney, John Stickels, filed a clemency application on Aug. 27, arguing that Coleman is not guilty of capital murder and requesting that Gov. Rick Perry commute her sentence to life in prison. The board voted unanimously on Monday not to recommend commutation or a reprieve of Coleman's sentence.

The clemency petition states that Coleman may be guilty of causing Devontae's death but not guilty of capital murder.

Stickels said Coleman was punished with death because she had the temerity to take her case to a jury. Prosecutors never offered Coleman a plea bargain as they later did Williams, Stickels said.

"What she's really guilty of is being a black lesbian," Stickels said. "If she is executed, it will be because of her sexual orientation. Her sexual orientation played a role in the state choosing to seek the death penalty and in her getting the death penalty.

"I have hope that I can save her."

After Coleman was sentenced to death, Williams pleaded guilty to capital murder in exchange for a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in July 2044, when she is 66.

If Coleman is executed Wednesday, she will be the 6th woman put to death in Texas since 1982, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

Case based on kidnapping

Coleman was charged with capital murder before the Texas statute changed in 2011 making the killing of a child age 10 or younger a capital crime. In Coleman's case, prosecutors used kidnapping as the underlying charge justifying the death penalty.

Prosecutors argued at her trial that Coleman did not allow Davontae to have visitors, kept him from visiting others by restraining him and told people he was not at the apartment when he was there, in effect saying that using such restraints and keeping Davontae's location a secret was kidnapping.

Stickels' clemency petition is based on the assertion that Coleman is not guilty of kidnapping and therefore cannot be guilty of capital murder. In the appeal he recently filed in the federal court system, Stickels contends the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals referred to the idea that Devontae had been kidnapped in his own home as "counterintutive."

It was only the kidnapping component of the prosecutors' capital murder case that made Coleman death penalty eligible, Stickels said. In his filings, he says that the federal court or Perry should take the time to consider new evidence about the kidnapping component, Stickels said.

"Of the claims made by the state, the court found that the kidnapping case was the weakest," Stickels said.

The appeal also claims that at least four people saw Davontae Williams playing with other children a week or less before his body was found, Stickels argued. The evidence showed that Davontae Williams was restrained with his mother's permission no more than twice and only then for his own safety, Stickels said.

A Tarrant County district court denied Coleman's appeal last week. Stickels appeaed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which has not responded.

'Nothing new' in appeal

A Tarrant County jury deliberated about 3 hours in June 2006 before recommending the death penalty.

"This 9-year-old child suffered a horrific death at the hands of Lisa Ann Coleman," said Dixie Bersano, one of the Tarrant County prosecutors who presented the state's case. "Davontae died of malnutrition, a slow and cruel process.

"There was not an inch on his body that had not been bruised or scarred or injured. The jury assessed the appropriate punishment. Court testimony during Coleman's trial showed that she had a leading parental role and was the decision-maker on how Davontae should be treated."

Tarrant County prosecutors in the appellate office maintain that the execution should be carried out as scheduled.

"Our position on this is that all of these issues have been fully litigated in state and federal court," said Steven Conder, Tarrant County's chief of post-conviction writs. "There is nothing new in these petitions that have not already been considered by the courts."

Death penalty unfair

Coleman's aunt, Tonya Brown, said her niece does not deserve to die. The courts are skewed in favor of the people with the most money, Brown said. Brown said evidence of the system's unfairness is as recent as the case of Ethan Couch, a white teenager who received a sentence of 10 years probation and psychiatric treatment after driving drunk and killing 4 people.

Brown also said the court acted unfairly when it decided to give Davontae Williams' mother a life sentence and Coleman death.

"If you don't have money, you cannot get good representation," Brown said. "She's given her life to Christ and she's trusting in His grace and mercy and believing that God will work it out."

Fred Cummings, one of Coleman's defense attorneys during the capital murder trial, said her attorneys sought a plea agreement but never got an offer from the Tarrant County district attorney's office. Cummings, who said he has been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and a police officer, said the death penalty is unfair in the way it is administered and nearly impossible to fix.

Had Coleman's trial been in a smaller county, it is likely the district attorney's office would not have had the money to pursue a death penalty trial, Cummings said. Or, if Coleman's trial been more recent, after the law changed to permit a sentence of life without parole, prosecutors might not have sought the death penalty, Cummings said.

"The DNA exoneration are illustrative of the fact that we often don't get these right," Cummings said. "There are confessions, eye witness testimony, that juries often rely on that turn out to be wrong."

Davontae's death was one of several cases cited in 2005 when the Legislature passed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, that overhauled the state's protective services agencies.

Child Protective Services first investigated Williams in 1995 when she was 14 and Davontae was 2 months old. Caseworkers investigated her 6 more times until 2002 when they lost track of the family.

Source: Star-Telegram, Sept. 16, 2014

Court Declines To Stop North Texas Woman's Execution

A federal appeals court has refused to stop this week's scheduled execution of a North Texas woman for the starvation and torture death of her lover's 9-year-old son a decade ago.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected appeals Tuesday from lawyers for 38-year-old Lisa Coleman.

She's scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday in Huntsville.

Paramedics responding to a 911 call from an apartment in Arlington found Davontae Williams on a bathroom floor and first thought he was about 3 to 5 years old. He weighed only 36 pounds.

Evidence showed the 9-year-old had been restrained repeatedly, kept in a closet away from food and suffered more than 250 distinct injuries.

His mother and Coleman's partner, Marcella Williams, took a plea deal and is serving a life prison term.

Source: Associated Press, Sept. 16, 2014

Colorado cinema shooting: Judge allows fingerprint evidence

James Holmes and lawyer
A judge presiding over the murder case of Colorado cinema shooting suspect James Holmes will let fingerprint evidence linking him to the mass shooting be used at trial, a ruling made public on Monday showed.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour denied a motion by lawyers defending the former neuroscience graduate student that sought to exclude the evidence, arguing that fingerprint comparison is a subjective, inexact science.

Public defenders also had made a similar argument challenging the reliability of firearms analysis, which Samour also rejected earlier this month.

Holmes, 26, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to opening fire inside a suburban Denver movie theater during a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises." 12 moviegoers were killed and 70 were wounded in the July 2012 rampage.

Prosecutors have charged Holmes with multiple counts of 1st-degree murder and attempted murder, and have said they will seek the death penalty for the California native if he is convicted.

The defense challenged the reliability of fingerprint analysis testimony, citing the 2004 train bombing in Madrid that killed 191 people. An FBI investigation initially said fingerprints found at the Madrid scene matched those of an American lawyer, who was arrested but later released after the error was discovered.

But Samour said in his ruling that despite occasional mistakes, fingerprint evidence has been deemed reliable in U.S. courts for more than a century.

"The fact that fingerprint examiners make false positive identifications is more directly related to the competency of the practitioners, not to the reliability of fingerprint comparison as a methodology," he said.

Prosecutors plan to call a police analyst and an FBI agent who matched Holmes' fingerprints to prints lifted from the theater's emergency exit door, firearms, and other items recovered from his apartment, which was rigged with explosives.

The trial is set to begin with jury selection in December.

Source: Toronto Sun, Sept. 16, 2014

Oklahoma Lawmaker Suggests Nitrogen as Alternative to Lethal Injection

The most common method of executing condemned prisoners in the U.S. - lethal injection - has suffered a mountain of setbacks in recent months. Most notably, executions using relatively untested drugs have not gone as intended in several states, including Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma.

But 1 Oklahoma lawmaker thinks he might have a potential solution to the lethal-injection crisis: nitrogen gas.

Rep. Mike Christian, a Republican from Oklahoma City, is slated to present the idea Tuesday to the state legislature, inviting its members to take up a broader study on the issue.

According to a story by a local television station:

[Rep. Christian] wants to use nitrogen gas. . . . The process is officially called Nitrogen Asphyxiation, a fancy term for the process of slowly replacing oxygen with nitrogen. Those who have studied the process say it causes no pain and can kill a person within a matter of minutes.

A message left with Rep. Christian wasn't immediately returned. But he told NewsChannel 4 that "if you deplete oxygen it's within 8-to-14 seconds, up to no more than 20 seconds that they pass out. And then, within a few minutes, up to 8 minutes, probably less, that they would be pronounced dead." According to the Oklahoman, nitrogen has likely never been used for an execution. But Mr. Christian told the paper that the approach seems humane. "Some who have received an accidental excess of the gas have even said the effect was mildly euphoric," according to the story.

Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, an organization largely opposed to the death penalty, said "a lot more study" would be needed before a state adopted such a proposal. "This is just more experimenting with human lives," he told Law Blog.

In the wake of problems with lethal injections, several states have revisited bringing back older techniques. Tennessee in May passed a law allowing for use of the electric chair in situations in which lethal-injection wasn't possible. This week, lawmakers in Wyoming moved a bill forward that would authorize the state to use a firing squad to execute inmates on death-row if prison officials fail to obtain drugs for lethal injections.

Source: Wall Street Journal, Sept. 16, 2014

12 Nigerian soldiers sentenced to death for mutiny: court martial

12 Nigerian soldiers were on Tuesday sentenced to death for mutiny after shots were fired at their commanding officer in the restive northeast city of Maiduguri earlier this year.

A 9-member military tribunal, sitting in Abuja, convicted the soldiers following the incident on May 14 when shots were fired at the commanding officer of the Nigerian Army's 7th Division, which is tasked with fighting Boko Haram insurgents.

Court president Brigadier General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo said the sentences were subject to confirmation by Nigeria's military authorities but added there was no doubt about the gravity of the offence.

The panel considered "its likely effect on the counter-insurgency operations in the northeast as well as its implications on national security", he told the court.

- Equipment shortage -

Nigeria's army has been under pressure to end the bloody five-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, made tens of thousands of others homeless and seen the militants make territorial gains in the northeast in recent weeks.

Front-line troops have frequently complained of a lack of adequate weapons and equipment to fight the rebels.

Residents in towns raided by the Islamists have said the insurgents are often armed with rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft weapons mounted on trucks and, in some cases, armoured personnel carriers.

Soldiers by contrast have at times reportedly lacked ammunition and been sent out to the bush to fight without basic communication equipment.

Last month, dozens of Nigerian soldiers refused to deploy for an offensive to try to retake the captured Borno town of Gwoza, which the Islamists claimed as part of an Islamic caliphate.

Soldiers' wives also demonstrated at the gate of a military base in Maiduguri trying to stop their husbands from heading to Gwoza without proper equipment.

One of the protesting soldiers, who set up camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri, said at the time: "We are being killed like chickens by Boko Haram because we are not given the required weapons to fight. We say enough is enough."

The country's military spokesman Chris Olukolade denied the troops had mutinied and told AFP that Nigerian soldiers were "too disciplined and patriotic to indulge in this dangerous offence".

The military has also rejected claims that hundreds of troops shouldered arms and fled their posts in border towns overrun by Boko Haram.

President Goodluck Jonathan has asked lawmakers to approve a $1 billion (750 million euros) foreign loan to upgrade the capacity of the military, which was seen as a tacit acknowledgement that troops were being out-matched.

- Unruly protest -

The court martial heard that on the day in question, the soldiers from 101 Battalion opened fire at a convoy containing the 7th Division commander General Amadu Mohammed at an army medical centre in Maiduguri.

The soldiers had demanded that Mohammed speak to them after a number of their colleagues were killed in an ambush on the way back from the Borno state town of Chibok.

The previous month, Boko Haram fighters kidnapped more than 200 girls from their school in the town, triggering global outrage.

Witnesses said the soldiers became unruly and threw stones at an officer when he arrived and shots were fired into the air. Mohammed then had to take cover as they trained their guns on him but he was not injured.

"The soldiers succeeded in shooting at his staff car, thereby causing bullet impressions at the right rear door where the GOC (general officer commanding) sat," Okonkwo told the court.

"He said thank God for the staff officer who rushed him into his car and the fact that the staff car is an armoured plated vehicle."

Eighteen soldiers in total, ranked from private to corporal, were charged with mutiny, criminal conspiracy, attempted murder, disobeying orders, insubordination and false accusation.

12 were sentenced to death for mutiny, 1 was given 28 days' hard labour on another count and 5 were acquitted. All pleaded not guilty.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Sept. 16, 2014

Saudi Arabia Beheads Syrian Drug Trafficker

A Syrian convicted of drug trafficking was beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.

Mohammed Ismail al-Jammus had been charged with smuggling a large quantity of amphetamines into the country, a ministry statement reported by state news agency SPA said.

His decapitation takes to 54 the number of people beheaded in the ultra-conservative Gulf nation so far this year, compared with 78 people in all of 2013, according to an AFP count.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, homosexuality and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Human Rights Watch expressed alarm last month at a surge in executions, which saw 19 people beheaded between August 4 and 20 alone.

HRW said 8 of those executed had been convicted of non-violent offences such as drug trafficking and "sorcery", and described the use of the death penalty in their cases as "particularly egregious."

Source: Agence France-Presse, Sept. 16, 2014