January 13, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 02
Bahrain: Three individuals have had their death sentences upheld by the Cassation Court. On March 3, 2014, the three suspects were part of a group that planted an explosive device and lured policemen to the scene before they detonated. The police officers were killed in the attack. Three of the eight suspects involved in the attack remain at large. All were charged with being members of a terror group and committing terroristic activities. Three of the eight were sentenced to death, while the remainder received a sentence of life in prison.
Iran: On Wednesday, January 4, 2017, Traub Rashidi and Ali Cheshmeh Noushi were executed by hanging at Rajai Shahr Prison. Both were executed for Moharebeh (enmity against God). A third prisoner, Sajad, was also executed on Wednesday at Rajai Shahr Prison. Sajad was executed on drug related charges.
On Sunday, January 8, 2017, two prisoners were publicly executed by hanging in Sarpol-e Zahab in western Iran. The two men, Rouhollah Koshtemad and Sajjad Zarsineh, were both convicted of Moharebeh, or waging war against God; armed robbery and the murder of a police officer.
Nasrollah Khazaei was executed on Monday, January 2, 2017, reportedly for “carrying and keeping drugs.” According to his family, however, his case was under review and his sentence was put on hold. Now, several officials of the Iranian Prosecution Office in Tehran have spoken out, saying that Nasrollah should not have been executed.
On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, Morteza Heydari was executed by hanging at Maragheh Prison. He was convicted of drug related charges after being arrested in May of 2012.
On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, Nassar Soltani was reportedly executed by hanging at Urmia Central Prison. Nassar was convicted of murder.
Pakistan: On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, Naveed Hussain was executed by hanging at Central Jail Adiala in Rawalpindi. His was the first execution of the year. He was convicted of terrorism for his part in riots on June 24, 2006, which resulted in several deaths.
Thailand: The nation has approved allowing public officials convicted of corruption to be sentenced to death. The committee responsible for the proposal suggests that public officials should be subject to inspections just like politicians. Additionally, various prison terms and fines are also possible punishments for those convicted.
United States of America: On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, Christopher Wilkins was executed by the state of Texas. He was pronounced dead at 6:29 pm CST, inside the Walls Unit execution chamber at the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. He was convicted of murdering Willie Freeman and Mike Silva. Read more about Christopher and his case here.
Ronald Philipps was scheduled to be executed in Ohio on Thursday, January 12, 2017. His execution has been rescheduled to February 15, 2017. The execution delay was caused by ongoing legal challenges and difficulties obtaining execution drugs. Ronald is convicted of murdering his three-year-old daughter Shelia in 1993. Read more about Ronald and his case here.
Confusion continues in Florida over the status of the state’s death penalty law, with opponents saying that the Florida’s Supreme Court ruling meant that all current death penalty trials should be changed to life in prison, while supporters of capital punishment say the trials should be paused until the legislature is able to sort out the confusion. In an attempt to end the confusion, a senator has filed a bill that would require juries to unanimously agree to death penalty. Previously versions of similar bills required a 10-2 majority, however the Florida Supreme Court ruled that was insufficient.
In an attempt to speed up death penalty cases in Tennessee, legislatures in the state House have proposed a bill that would send death penalty appeals straight to the Tennessee Supreme Court. This would eliminate one step of the state appeals, possibly speeding up the appeals process. Currently, death penalty cases must be heard by a midlevel state appellate court before going to the Tennessee Supreme Court. If passed, this bill would have no affect on the federal appeals process. Executions are currently on hold in the state, and have been since 2009, due to a challenge over the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol.
It has been announced that Ohio not only has sufficient execution drugs to executed Ronald Philipps next month, but that they obtained significant quantities of the execution drugs, enough for approximately 40 executions. Ohio has further stated that the drugs they plan to use in the first three executions of the year are standard drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, although the state has declined to say from where the drugs were purchased. Ohio is not required to release that information, as the identities of execution drug suppliers are protected by state law.
Dylann Roof, the man convicted of murdering nine African American parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been sentenced to death by a federal court. The 22-year-old confessed to the crime and has shown no remorse for his crimes. Acting as his own lawyer, he declined to present any evidence in his defense. Roof is a white supremacist who admitted to hoping to start a race war.