October 21, 2016
IDPN 2016 Issue 43
Bangladesh: On Sunday, October 16, 2016, Asadul Islam, alias Arif, was executed by hanging. Asadul was a leader of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group. He was convicted as part of an attack that killed two judges in 2005.
Belarus: The death penalty remains highly secretive in the only European nation that retains capital punishment. According to those who have had family members executed, the family of the condemned is not informed of when the execution will take place - one a day box will simply arrive on their doorstep containing their family member’s belongings. The family then knows that they execution has been carried out. They are also not informed of the burial location. Visitation with the condemned family member is extremely limited and very carefully monitored. Only certain topics are allowed to be addressed. The European Union continues to oppose the death penalty, especially its use by one of its member nations. The nation has faced sanctions in the past for its continued use of capital punishment.
China: Wei Pengyuan, former deputy head of the coal department of China’s National Energy Administration, has been sentenced to death for accepting bribes and holding extremely large amounts of assets from unidentified sources, exceeding his legal income. His death sentence came with a two year reprieve, after which his sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or further commutation.
India: Vikram Singh and Jasvir Singh were sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old boy in 2005. The two relatives kidnapped the teenager and demanded a ransom from the boy’s father. They were scheduled to be executed this month, however, their executions have been stayed to review their petitions for mercy.
Umesh Reddy has had his execution stayed by the Karnataka High Court on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Umesh is convicted of rape and murder. He is appealing his sentence, asking to have it commuted to life in prison.
Palestine: In the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a court has sentenced a 54-year-old man to death for allegedly spying for Israel. Two others were also recently sentenced to death, each for murder. All trials were carried out in secret.
Saudi Arabia: Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, a member of the royal family, was executed on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. He was executed for the murder of Adel al-Mahedmid in December of 2012. The two were having a dispute at a camp when they exchanged gunfire. A third individuals was injured during the exchange. Although there are thousands of members of the House of Saud (the royal family) they are rarely involved in murders.
On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 33-year-old Saad Al-Shimrani was executed for the kidnapping and rape of a 14-year-old girl. Prior to the attack on this girl, he had previously kidnapped and raped another girl that was approximately the same age. Executions in the nation are traditionally carried out by beheading.
United States of America: On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Gregory Paul Lawler was executed by the state of Georgia. He was pronounced dead at 11:49 pm EDT. His execution was scheduled to begin at 7 pm EDT, however last minute appeals delayed the start of the execution. Gregory was convicted of the murder of 28-year-old Atlanta Police Officer John Sowa in a 2000, shooting. Another police officer was permanently injured in the attack. Read more about Gregory here.
Also on Wednesday, Terry Edwards of Texas was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. His execution has been rescheduled to January 26, 2017. Terry is convicted of murdering 34-year-old Tommy Walker and 26-year-old Mickell Goodwin on July 8, 2002, in Dallas Texas. Read more about Terry and his case here.
The Florida Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-2, has ruled that a jury must unanimously agree when sentencing an inmate to death. Nearly all states that impose capital punishment require unanimous jury decisions. Problems with Florida’s death penalty began earlier this year, when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Florida’s death sentencing procedure was unconstitutional. Since then the legislature passed a new death sentencing procedure, which was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. The bill passed by the legislature only required 10 of the 12 jurors to agree on the death penalty.
Timothy Lee Hurst is the Florida death row inmate who took the case before the Supreme Court of the United States that ultimately required Florida to change its death sentencing procedure law. In Timothy’s case, the jury recommended a life sentence. The judge overruled the jury and sentenced him to death. Judges are no longer able to overrule the recommendation of a jury. The Florida Supreme Court has also ruled that Timothy is to be given a new sentencing hearing.
On Monday, October 17, 2016, Glen Bates was sentenced to death in Ohio. Glen was convicted of the torture and murder of his two-year-old daughter Glenara. During the trial, Glenara’s 10-year-old sister testified to the abuse she saw inflicted upon Glenara. Glenara’s mother is accused of participating in the crime and will soon be tried.
Kate Brown, governor of Oregon, has announced that she plans to continue the moratorium on executions while she is in office. According to a spokesperson, Governor Brown, like the governor before her, is personally opposed to the death penalty and therefore refuses to allow executions to occur in accordance with state laws. There are currently 34 inmates on death row in Oregon.
Among the states that will have death penalty measures on the ballots this November, is Oklahoma. Voters in Oklahoma will decide if the use of the death penalty should be a part of the state’s constitution. The death penalty is legal in the state and it is unclear what impact it would have upon the death penalty, should the measure pass. The biggest issue opponents to the measure foresee is making the death penalty a part of the state’s constitution would make it much more difficult to make changes to the death penalty or eliminate it.
Since 2005, the death row in Ohio has moved twice. It will now be three times. The Department of Corrections has announced that it will transferring most of the 124 death row inmates from Chillicothe to a Toledo prison. The dates for the move have not been announced. Officials state that the reason for the move is to make it easier to deal with aging death row inmates and to reduce crowding. Executions will continue to be carried out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Thomas Meadows, an inmate in Pennsylvania, has been removed from death row and resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In exchange for the reduction in sentence, Thomas has agreed to drop all legal challenges and not file an additional appeals.