February 10, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 06
Iran: Although most executions in Iran are carried out by hanging, some areas continue to rely on older methods, such as death by stoning. A criminal court in the western Lorestan province has sentenced two individuals to death by stoning for engaging in “unethical relations.”
Ahmadreza Djalali, a scientist who has been studying disaster medicine at two European institutes, has been sentenced to death. Ahmadreza was arrested over nine months ago, on unknown charges, and has spent most of his time since then in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer. His family has been informed that he is being held on matters concerning national security, although no specifics have been given. Ahmadreza’s family believes he was arrested due to the numerous international contacts he had made while conducting his research.
South Sudan: President Salva Kiir has announced that soldiers found guilty of rape or murder will be executed by firing squad. The nation is currently in the midst of a civil war, between supports of President Kiir, and supporters of his former vice-president Riek Machar. The war began in 2013. Since January of this year, there have been nearly 40 reported cases of rape. President Kiir wants to eliminate the “bad elements” to help bring peace to the nation.
Thailand: Antonio Bagnato, an Australian national, has been convicted and sentenced to death for abducting and murdering Hell’s Angels biker Wayne Rodney Schneider in 2015. Wayne’s body was found buried in a shallow grave on the side of the road. He had been beaten and had a broken neck. There are over 600 prisoners on death row in Thailand and the nation rarely carries out executions. The official method of execution is lethal injection, although firing squads have been used in the past.
Trinidad & Tobago: Thirty-seven-year-old Anand Boodram has been sentenced to death for the murder of 26-year-old Brian Maharaj in 2006. The two friends had an argument and Boodram left, but returned later with a shotgun. A witness heard a loud noise and then saw Maharaj staggering, holding his chest, while Boodram was holding the weapon. Boodram claims the gun went off accidentally as the two men struggled for control of it.
United States of America: Tilon Carter was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. His execution has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Thirty-seven-year-old Tilon is convicted of the murder of 89-year-old James Tomlin in Fort Worth, Texas. The stay of execution was granted due to the trial court being a day late in notifying the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs that an execution date had been set. Tilon has been given a new execution date of May 16. Read more about Tilon and his case here.
Before Governor Pete Ricketts signed the final protocol for executions in Nebraska, one final change was made to the bill; the identities of the person or company that supplies the execution drugs will be made public. Many states have done the opposite and introduced bills to shield the identities of the suppliers, but Nebraska, it appears will not follow the trend. This may make it exceedingly difficult to obtain execution drugs, as official drug makers are unwilling to sell to prisons and many compounding pharmacies do not want their names revealed. Compounding pharmacies who have had their identities made known have reported receiving death threats via phone and mail, as well as employees being harassed by death penalty opponents. Not all Nebraska lawmakers support revealing the identity of the suppliers and are continuing to try and pass legislation that would conceal their identities.
There are only two men on death row in Montana and both have been there for over two decades. Now some law makers are attempting to eliminate the death penalty in the state and commute their sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Two years ago, a similar bill was introduced but failed when it was split 50-50 in the House of Representatives. At the time Republican controlled the House by the same number they do now, 59-41. Supporters of the bill argue that it will save taxpayers money and ease the burden on the victim’s family, as it will no longer require decades of legal proceedings, many of which cause the family to relive the crime. Additionally, it does not leave the inmate or the victim’s family waiting years for a sentence to be carried out.
On Monday, February 6, 2017, a Senate panel in Florida unanimously approved a bill that would require an unanimous jury recommendation for the death penalty. Currently, Florida is unable to try any capital cases, as the state is in the middle of revamping how inmates are sentenced to death, following a Supreme Court ruling last year which gutted the state’s sentencing procedure. Florida currently has 313 death penalty cases pending, 66 of which are ready to go to trial.
The House of Representatives in Mississippi, have passed a bill that would allow executions to be carried out by nitrogen gas, firing squad, or electrocution, but only if lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood both support the bill.
As Ohio’s lethal injection process continues to be battled in the court system, Governor John Kasich has announced that eight executions are delayed. Ohio’s lethal execution protocol has been in courts since the prolonged execution of Dennis McGuire in January of 2014. Since then, Ohio has approved a new execution protocol and purchased drugs, only to have all three drugs ruled unconditional by a federal judge, even though one of the drugs has recently been approved by the Supreme Court of the United States. Ohio is currently appealing the decision of the federal judge that ruled the drugs unconstitutional. Arguments for the appeal will occur before the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals on February 21.