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Showing posts from December, 2014

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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Maryland Gov. O'Malley to commute sentences of state's last four death row inmates to life in prison

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Outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley said Wednesday that he will commute the capital sentences of the state's last four inmates on death row to life in prison, saying executing them "does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland."
Two years ago, the General Assembly abolished the death penalty in the state, making the ultimate sentence in new cases life in prison without the possibility of parole.
That left four previously sentenced inmates on death row.
The governor noted in a statement that outgoing Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler recently asserted that carrying out prior sentences would be illegal in the absence of an existing statute.
"The question at hand is whether any public good is served by allowing these essentially un-executable sentences to stand," O'Malley said in his statement. "In my judgment, leaving these death sentences in place does not serve the public good of the people of Maryland ? present or future.&…

Iran: Seven prisoners secretly hanged in Orumieh prison

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NCRI – The Iranian regime’s henchmen hanged a group of seven prisoners on Monday in the main prison in the city of Orumieh in northwestern Iran.
Those executed were residents of Kermanshah, Sanandaj and Shiraz. No other information is available on the victims.
The clerical regime in Iran has refused to halt its cycle of atrocities and executions even during Christmas. The regime henchmen hanged at least seven prisoners in the Adelabad Prison in Shiraz at dawn on Christmas day.
On December 18 and 14, ten other prisoners were secretly hanged in same prison that it is known for being one with most appalling condition.
Meanwhile, a judiciary official of the Iranian regime rejected the international criticism of the regime’s high rate of execution related to drug charges and said: “No sentence can replace death verdict.”
Mohammadreza Habibi, the head of judiciary in Yazd province (central Iran) said on Saturday said: “Decisive dealing and executions would reduce the drug trafficking and i…

Pakistan: Musharraf Attack Case Convict Executed

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December 31, 2014: Niaz Muhamamd, convicted of orchestrating murder attempt on former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, was hanged in Peshawar at Central Jail.
Niaz Muhammad who belonged to Swabi was an aide of Adnan Rashid, a notorious militant leader and an accused in the Musharraf attack case.
The death row prisoner was shifted from Haripur Central Jail to Peshawar last night where he was executed early in the morning.
Jail authorities say the body would be moved to Swabi for burial. 
A military court had handed down death sentence to Niaz Muhammad for the 2003 attack on Pervez Musharraf.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on capital punishment after a deadly militant attack in a Peshawar school that killed almost 150 people majority of them children on December 16. 
Source: geo.tv, December 31, 2014

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Saudi Arabia carries out 86th execution of 2014

December 29, 2014: Saudi Arabia beheaded a man in the southern Najran region for stabbing a relative to death, the interior ministry said.
Misfir bin Nasser bin Misfir Lesloom al-Yami was found guilty of killing Hamad bin Ali bin Hamad Lesloom al-Yami following a fight, the ministry said in a statement made public by SPA state news agency.
His beheading in the southern Najran region brings to 86 the number of Saudis and foreigners in the oil-rich state. 
Source: english.al-akhbar.com, December 29, 2014
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Parents of wrongfully executed teen in China to get $330,000

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Beijing: The parents of a Chinese teenager executed 18 years ago for the rape and murder of a woman he did not commit will get 2.05 million yuan (Dh1.2 million or $330,491) in compensation, a court and his father said on Wednesday.
This month, a court exonerated Huugjilt, saying he was wrongly convicted in 1996 of raping and killing a woman in a public rest room. He was executed in the same year. He was 18.
Huugjilt is the latest wrongfully convicted death-row inmate exonerated in the past year. In August, Nian Bin, a former death row prisoner, was freed after a court said there was insufficient evidence against him.
These cases, which have sparked an outcry, have added to public discontent over wrongful punishment. They come as the government has embarked on legal reforms, including banning the use of torture to extract confessions.
Huugjilt’s father, Li Sanren, said the compensation was “all right”, adding that he and his wife “respect the decision of the law and the state”.
“Our m…

2014 The Year in Review

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2014 The Year in Review

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UPDATE:December 29, 2014: Saudi Arabia beheaded a man in the southern Najran region for stabbing a relative to death, the interior ministry said. Misfir bin Nasser bin Misfir Lesloom al-Yami was found guilty of killing Hamad bin Ali bin Hamad Lesloom al-Yami following a fight, the ministry said in a statement made public by SPA state news agency. His beheading in the southern Najran region brings to 86 the number of Saudis and foreigners in the oil-rich state. Source: english.al-akhbar.com, December 29, 2014
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Iran: Secret Mass Executions of Drug Convicts in Kerman Prison

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Tens of prisoners have been executed in the past few months in the prison of Kerman (Southeastern Iran) and their executions have not been announced by the official media. Most of the prisoners have been convicted of drug-related charges. It is not known how long these executions have been going on but it is certain that the executions are not limited only to the past few months. Iran Human Rights (IHR) is investigating further details of the executions.
Iran Human Rights, December 28, 2014: At least 33 prisoners have been executed in the prison of Kerman since August 2014, according to sources Iran Human Rights(IHR) has been in contact with. 
The prisoners have often been executed in groups of 6-8 at a time, according to these sources. Except for one prisoners who was charged with murder, all the other prisoners had been sentenced to death for drug-related charges. No executions in the prison of Kerman has been reported by the official Iranian sources in this period.
Human rights gr…

2014 The Year in Review

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China's Death-Penalty Debate

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BEIJING — There was an ear-splitting whistle and Kong Ning, a young supervising officer from Beijing, saw blood spurt from the bodies of the 34 prisoners, all men in their 20s and 30s, kneeling in a row in front of her. One man’s head was blown off completely. She collapsed on the muddy ground.
Ms. Kong was traumatized by the executions, which she watched over on a bitterly cold day in November 1983, when China’s first wave of “strike-hard” campaigns against rising crime was in full swing. After the event, she quit her job and became a lawyer in the hope of defending people unjustly accused of crime. But over the years she suffered several mental breakdowns, at one point being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a few months. Now, she always dresses in black — and she always wears a bulletproof vest.
In 2006, she started to paint, primarily as a way to cope with the trauma that had changed her life. She has also staged performances, reliving that terrifying incident.
Beyond the fo…

2014 in Review

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2014 in Review

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Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

2014 in Review

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Japan: 129 inmates remain on death row

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TOKYO — Japan’s prisons had 129 inmates on death row as of Dec 26, according to a Justice Ministry report.
The ministry said that there were three executions in June and August, while five death-row inmates died of illnesses, including a 92-year-old man, TV Asahi reported Sunday.
A man believed to be the world’s longest-serving death row inmate, Iwao Hakamada, 78, was freed in March after the Shizuoka District Court ordered a fresh trial over the grisly 1966 murder of his boss and the man’s family.
Human rights group Amnesty International has criticized Japan’s use of capital punishment for being “shrouded in secrecy.”
Japan and the United States are the only major industrialised democracies to carry out capital punishment, a practice that has led to repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups.
International advocacy groups say the Japanese system is cruel because death row inmates can wait for their executions for many years in solitary confinement and are on…

2014 in Review

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Healing Hearts: Norway massacre survivor works to prevent a repeat

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On the afternoon of July 22, 2011, Ihler, a 20-year-old theater major at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and a political activist, was hanging out with a few friends on Utoya, a small, heart-shaped emerald isle set on the waters of the Tyrifjorden lake in Buskerud County, Norway, roughly 24 miles from the capital city of Oslo.
The youth wing of Norway’s Labour Party that owns Utoya Island was holding a summer camp there for hundreds of young people.
Ihler and others on the island had heard about a bomb blast in Oslo earlier that day that had claimed eight lives. Despite news of the blast, many on the island felt they would be safe there – miles away from chaotic Oslo.
But on that day, the scenic island’s fairy tale-like tranquility was shattered. As Ihler and others found out within minutes, a lone-wolf killer wielding a handgun and an assault rifle was indiscriminately and heartlessly killing young people as he walked calmly across the island. He was also wearing the garb…

China: Death sentence for Japanese man in drug case

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Six people nabbed in a cross-border drug trafficking case in China, including one Japanese and two Koreans, have been given punishments ranging from life imprisonment to the death sentence.
Three of the six, including one from the Chinese mainland, one from Hong Kong and one from Japan, were sentenced to death on December 16 for trafficking up to 120 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, the intermediate people's court of Nantong in the eastern province of Jiangsu said on Friday.
The court found that the Hong Kong man escorted the Japanese buyer and three others, two from the South Korea and one from Taiwan, who is still on the run, to buy crystal methamphetamine from two sellers in South China's Guangdong Province between February 2012 and March 2013.
Some of the drugs were transported to Nantong and also Rizhao in Shandong Province, and another two Koreans were responsible for smuggling the drugs to Japan by cargo ship, it said.
The other drug seller in Guangdong was senten…

Somalia: Al-Shabaab executes young man for suspected spying

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December 23, 2014: Al-Shabaab militants have executed a young man for suspected spying for the Federal Government of Somalia. 
The group executed the man in front of a crowd in Biyo Ade, 40 kilometer outside of Jowhar, the capital of central Shabelle region.
Eyewitnesses told Bar-Kulan the group invited a crowd to witness the execution of the man whom they suspected was on a spying mission for the Mogadishu government. 
Witnesses said the executed man was a resident in the area, and there was no indication that he was working with the government. 
Al-Shabaab militant group which is fighting to topple the government of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has previously executed people it suspected of spying.
Source: Radio Bar-Kulan, December 23, 2014
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Iran: 26-year-old man hanged in Mashhad

December 23, 2014: A 26 year old man was hanged in the prison of Mashhad (Northeastern Iran). 
The man who was not identified by name, was convicted of murdering his brother in law, reported the Iranian state media. 
The execution took place in the prison of Mashhad, in the presence of the judges and prison officials. 
The report didn’t mention whether the family of the murder victim were present, as they normally do.
Source: Iran Human Rights, December 23, 2014
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Jokowi Seeks Indonesia's Largest Islamic Organization's Blessing to Kill Drug Convicts

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Jakarta. President Joko Widodo visited Nahdlatul Ulama on Wednesday to ask Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization for its support in the fight against radicalism and to receive NU’s blessing for the government to execute drug dealers.
“[On radicalism] we have to be very firm in our stance against it so the people can see our integrity,” Joko told reporters in Jakarta.
Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of the central board of NU, said he would back the government’s attempts to clamp down on radicalism in Indonesia.
“We are against radicalism, terrorist groups and extreme radicals, even ISIS,” said Said Aqil. “They’re not fighters, but dangerous wanderers. Do not allow there to be any ISIS support in Indonesia.”
Joko was accompanied by several ministers including Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, State Secretary Pratikno and Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto. He asked NU to support his decision to execute drug traffickers.
“We also talked about death penalty, especially rel…

Jakarta Archbishop Criticizes Indonesia’s Use of Death Penalty

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Jakarta. The Archbishop of Jakarta criticized President Joko Widodo’s policy on executing drug traffickers on Thursday, saying no-one had the right to take a person’s life.
“Nobody has the right on anyone else’s life,” Archbishop Mgr. Ignatius Suharyo said, as quoted by news portal Tempo.co. “Church teachings don’t allow for the death penalty.”
Indonesian law allows for the death penalty in the event of a conviction for a range of crimes, including murder, sedition, aggravated robbery, terrorism and drug trafficking. The sentence is carried out by firing squad.
Many in human rights circles had hoped that Joko’s image as a reformer would extend to him changing Indonesia’s position on the death penalty. But during a speech at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta earlier this month, Joko ruled out awarding clemency to convicted drug traffickers.
Joko said some 40 to 50 drug users died in Indonesia every day, and that the government needed to send a firm, zero-tolerance message.
Indonesi…

Mauritania issues first apostasy death sentence

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Mauritania has delivered its first death sentence for apostasy since independence in 1960, ordering capital punishment for a Muslim man who wrote an article deemed blasphemous of Islam.
Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, aged in his late 20s, fainted when the ruling was read out late Wednesday in a court in Nouadhibou in the northwest of the country, a judicial source told AFP.
He was revived and taken to prison.
Cheikh Ould Mohamed has been in custody since January 2, after his arrest for an article he wrote that appeared briefly on several Mauritanian websites.
His text challenged some decisions taken by Islam's prophet Mohammed and his companions during holy wars, the source said on condition of anonymity.
During his trial, the judge told Cheikh Ould Mohamed he was accused of apostasy "for speaking lightly of the Prophet Mohammed".
The defendant pleaded not guilty and said it was "not his intention to harm the prophet," the judicial source said.
No information wa…

Romanians at Ceausescu's grave, 25 years after execution

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Romanians nostalgic for the communist era gathered Thursday at the grave of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, who were tried and executed on Christmas Day twenty-five years ago.
Some Romanians have made the pilgrimage to the Ghencea cemetery into an annual tradition. This year, about 15 people gathered at the burial place.
Ceausescu's 24-year-rule was characterized in the later years by food and power shortages and a lack of basic freedoms. But the few Romanians who turned up at his grave expressed nostalgia for an era where there was more security.
Caltea Oprea, a retired engineer, clutched two beeswax candles and said his red knitted scarf was a symbol of communism.
"After communism ended we were run by thieves and bandits," he told The Associated Press. "Ceausescu was not perfect but communism was a necessary evil; everyone had a job and a house."
Earlier this week, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called for an investigation into the killing…

Saudi Arabia beheads Pakistani for heroin smuggling

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday [Christmas day] beheaded a Pakistani man for heroin smuggling, the twelfth person from Pakistan to be executed in the kingdom for drug trafficking since mid-October.
They are among 85 foreigners and Saudis put to death this year in the oil-rich kingdom, according to an AFP tally.
Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest execution tolls.
The sentence against Ismail Khan Sayed was carried out in Eastern Province after his conviction for smuggling "a large amount" of heroin, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
In addition to amphetamines and other drugs, Saudi authorities seized almost 18 kilos (40 pounds) of raw heroin during the Islamic calendar year that ended in October, according to the Interior Ministry.
The Gulf has become an increasingly important market for illicit drugs in recent years, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Rape, murder, apostasy, homosexual…

Sombre Christmas for Bali Nine Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

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Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have celebrated Christmas in Kerobokan jail, as Indonesia's president continues to defend his support for the death penalty.
Christmas Day was marked with a modest service in the prison's hall on Thursday morning, and although the pair arrived smiling, they did not speak to media.
President Joko Widodo's announcement earlier in December that he's against granting clemency for drug offenders is a blow to the Sydney pair who were sentenced to death in 2006.
Five or six Indonesian and Nigerian citizens are expected to face the firing squad this year, while another 20 prisoners could be executed next year.
Prison governor Sudjonggo said the Australians were aware of the latest developments.
"They've never asked me about it," Sudjonggo told reporters.
"From the look of it, I see them casually, there's been no behavioural changes.
"Their emotional state is normal, nothing explosive."
Sudjongg…

UAE: Widow pardons husband's killer in Abu Dhabi

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A Pakistani widow surprised the judge at an Abu Dhabi court when she told him she was forgiving the killer of her husband in line with Islamic teachings.
The judge had given the woman three options — either to pardon the defendant, demand diya (blood money) or have the killer executed.
“This Pakistani woman has set an example in forgiveness,” the semi-official Arabic language daily ‘Al Ittihad’ said.
“She and her sons decided to pardon the killer of her husband. 
She affirmed to court that she only did this in line with Islamic teachings which call for toleration and forgiveness and that she only wanted to satisfy God the Almighty.”
Under Islamic law, a convicted killer can be freed after spending a specific jail term if pardoned by the victim’s relatives in return for diya.
Source: Emirates 24/7, December 24, 2014
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"Capital Punishment No Violation of Human Rigths": Indonesia Narcotics Chief

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Jakarta. Executing people for drug-related crimes is not a violation of human rights, the chief of National Narcotics Agency (BNN) said on Tuesday at a discussion on the matter.
Admitting that the measure continues to be controversial, Comr. Gen. Anang Iskandar said that as long as the punishment was based on a court order, “there is nothing wrong about sentencing a drug convict to death,” Tempo.co reported.
Tedjo Edhy Purdjianto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, explained that many people simply do not understand the reasons why someone is sentenced to death.
The minister added that drug convicts, especially drug lords, put people’s lives in danger.
“We should get this straight,” Tedjo said. “Because of the drug lords, forty drug addicts die every day.”
Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch however urged the government to eliminate the death penalty, calling it a cruel and pointless measure.
“The current government should understand that the dea…

Arizona to change its execution drugs after investigation of inmate's lengthy July death

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona officials said Monday they have been cleared of any wrongdoing in an execution this year that lasted nearly two hours, but they are nevertheless changing the drugs they use to put inmates to death.
According to a letter from Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan to Gov. Jan Brewer, the agency no longer will use the drug combination used in the controversial July execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood. He was given 15 doses of the drugs and gasped over and over before taking his final breath.
The letter said the department will stop using the mixture of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. Instead, it will try to obtain pentobarbital or Sodium Pentothal, the powerful sedative also known as sodium thiopental that was used in lethal injections in Arizona until it became difficult to obtain.
Pentobarbital has been successfully used dozens of times in Texas, Georgia and Missouri but also is in short supply. Records obtained by The Associ…

Calls for end to UK ‘aid for executions’ as Pakistan hangings catch government off guard

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The Government defended controversial UK ‘aid for executions’ to Pakistan on the mistaken understanding that Pakistan would not resume hangings, it’s emerged.
On 11 December, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote to legal charity Reprieve, which assists some death row prisoners in Pakistan, saying “it is clear that a de facto moratorium remains the policy of the Pakistani Government.” He said he was assured of this position following “high-level discussions” with Prime Minister Sharif, the details of which he was “unable to share”.
The letter from Mr Clegg came as Reprieve called for an immediate freeze on UK counternarcotics aid to Pakistan in light of the country’s resumption of executions, which has seen a number of prisoners hanged over the past few days.
While it has been claimed that the first prisoners to be executed will be “terrorists”, it’s emerged that some of the first eight prisoners to have a “black warrant” issued in their names have been convicted of offences bearing…

Nigerian military court sentences 54 soldiers to death

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Among the 54 soldiers were two corporals, nine lance corporals and 49 private soldiers who were attached to the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri. The 7 Division is the Army Division which was created in 2013 and charged with waging war against the deadly Boko Haram terrorists who have been wreaking havoc in the North East of the country.
The convicted soldiers pleaded not guilty to the charges against them when the trial began in October.
According to the charge sheet, they conspired to commit mutiny against the authorities of the 7 Division on August 4, at the Mulai Primary School camp, opposite AIT Maiduguri, Borno State. They were alleged to have disobeyed orders to join operations against Boko Haram.
The soldiers are the second batch of Nigerian soldiers condemned to death by Nigerian Military courts for mutiny. In September, 12 soldiers were also sentenced to death for mutiny.
The soldiers were represented at the court by a respected Nigerian human rights lawyer, Fem…

Federal judge denies request to halt Oklahoma executions

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OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge has rejected a request by Oklahoma death-row inmates to halt executions in the state, finding that the state's protocol does not violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot clears the way for four upcoming executions, though the plaintiffs are expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In making his ruling, Friot found that the plaintiffs, 21 death-row inmates, did not prove that the state's use of a new lethal drug, midazolam, presents a constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering during executions. That is the standard set up by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2008 ruling upholding lethal injection. Friot said the inmates had failed to establish that the state's revised lethal injection protocol presents a risk that is "sure or very likely to cause illness or suffering."
Attorneys for the state maintained that midazolam has been found constitutio…

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's attorneys worry client's 'supporters' could prejudice jury

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BOSTON - Defense attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are asking a judge to "take reasonable measures" to protect Tsarnaev from the public relations impact of his own supporters.
Attorney David Bruck wrote in a court motion that when Tsarnaev's trial begins on Jan. 5, jurors will be required to walk through the same doors outside which Tsarnaev's supporters are likely to be demonstrating. 
If the public and jurors cannot walk into court without seeing "inflammatory messages," Bruck wrote, "The fairness of the defendant's trial is likely to be gravely harmed, in part because of the natural but false inference that the defendant and his counsel agree with the outrageous conspiracy theories that are being so vociferously advanced by demonstrators claiming to be the defendant's 'supporters.'"
When Tsarnaev appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing last week, supporters came to the federal courthouse in Bosto…

Pakistan: Court halts executions

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The Lahore High Court (LHC), Rawalpindi bench, on Monday halted the execution of death sentences awarded to five terrorists in an attack on an army camp in Gujrat in 2012. 
Ehsan Azeem, Asif Idrees, Aamir Yousaf, Kamran Aslam and Umer Nadeem were awarded death sentence by a military court for their involvement in a terrorist attack which claimed the lives of seven security personnel.
Justice Arshad Mahmood Tabassum heard a writ petition filed by Sajida Parveen, the mother of Ehsan Azeem, through her counsel Laiq Khan Swati. The counsel pleaded the court to set aside the conviction and sentence awarded by the military court and provide opportunity for a fair trial to his client. 
During the course of proceedings, the court issued a stay order against the implementation of death sentences of all the five convicts till the next date of hearing. Swati argued that his client Ehsan Azeem along with Asif Idrees, Aamir Yousaf, Kamran Aslam and Umer Nadeem was convicted and awarded the death…