May 12, 2017
IDPN 2017 Issue 19
India: Three individuals, Yogesh Raut, Mahesh Thakur, and Vishwas Kadam, were sentenced to death for the abduction, gang rape, and murder of 28-year-old Nayana Pujari. Nayana was a software engineer who was abducted on her way home from work in October of 2009.
Indonesia: Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the former Christian governor of Jakarta, has been found guilty of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years in prison. Basuki assumed the governorship of Jakarta when his predecessor, Joko Widodo, was elected president. Basuki was only the second non-Muslim governor. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. He hoped to become the first directly elected non-Muslim and was leading in the polls until September, when Muslim hard-liners argued that Quran forbids Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim. Basuki argued that those making such an argument were misleading Muslims. Some Muslims took offense and claimed that Basuki had insulted the Quran, and demanded that he be jailed for blasphemy. Basuki has said he will appeal his sentence.
Pakistan: On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, four Taliban terrorists were executed by hanging. The four men were identified as Qaiser Khan, Muhammad Umar, Qari Zubair Muhammad and Aziz Khan. All were convicted of being members of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is a banned terrorist group. They were convicted of being terrorists and of “heinous” terrorism related charged.
Singapore: As part of new laws passed in Parliament on Monday, May 8, 2017, anyone convicted of committing a fatal act of terrorism using radioactive materials or a nuclear explosive devise will face a mandatory death penalty. The government acknowledged that such an attack was highly unlikely, however, with the rise of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, all options must be considered. If no deaths occur as the result of such attacks, the individual, or individuals, convicted will be sentenced to life in prison. The new laws also consider such acts carried out outside of Singapore. Should a national commit what amounts to nuclear terrorism outside the nation, it will be treated as if the act had been carried out in Singapore, with the individual receiving the same punishment.
Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken repeatedly about reinstating capital punishment in the nation, especially after a failed coup attempt last year. Such an action would prevent Turkey from joining the European Union, which it has been attempting to do for over a decade. Abolishment of capital punishment is a requirement for joining the Union. Several member nations have spoken up saying that they will do all they can to prevent such an action. The Dutch, Belgian, German, Swedish, and Austrian governments have announced that they will prevent Turkish voters living in their nations from voting on referendum about whether to reintroduce the death penalty to Turkey. There are over one million eligible Turkish voters in Germany.
United States of America: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced that of the 29 prisoners on death row in the state, four of them have exhausted all their appeals. She hopes to ask for executions dates soon, however, the state currently lacks the drugs to carry out the executions. One of the reasons for the push to execute eight inmates in the last two week of April was due to one of the three drugs used in executions expiring at the end of the month. The drug, midazolam, expired and the state will likely face challenges obtaining more of the drug. It is currently uncertain how executions would be carried out if new execution dates are set in the near future.
Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma, has signed the Blue Lives Matter bill into law. The bill makes killing any police officer a capital crime. The bill comes on the heels of two police murders in less than two months. All those convicted of killing a police officer could face the death penalty. If the death penalty is not applied, they will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Supporters of the bill, which goes into effected in November, hope it will be a deterrent against killing police officers. The bill also covers correctional officers who work in prisons.
On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, the Delaware House of Representatives voted 24-16, to reinstate the death penalty. The bill will now move onto the Senate. The Democratic governor of the state previously announced his support for the Delaware Supreme Court ruling that ruled Delaware’s death penalty law was unconstitutional, however, he has not promised to veto legislation which would reinstate capital punishment. Some support for the bills comes from outcry over two recent police deaths; a correctional officer who died during a prison riot in February and a state trooper who was fatally shot on April 26, 2017.
Robert Campbell has spent the last 24 years on death row in Texas for the rape and murder of Alejandra Rendon in Houston. He has been declared mental incompetent and his death sentence has been tossed out. When Robert was convicted and sentence, the punishment of life in prison without parole did not exist. As such, once Robert has been resentenced to life in prison, he will immediately become eligible for parole. District Attorney Kim Ogg has promised to fight against Robert ever being granted parole and to keep him in prison for the rest of his life.
Over the past week, the Florida Supreme Court has reviewed and decided on several death penalty cases. Many death penalty cases are being appealed to the Florida Supreme Court due to recent changes in the law sentencing inmates to death, as a result of a United States Supreme Court ruling which ruled Florida’s old sentencing law unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court unanimously reversed the death sentence of 48-year-old Ralph Wright, Jr. Ralph, a former Air Force officer, was convicted of murdering Paula O’Conner and her son in Tampa in 2007. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that their was no physical evidence that Ralph committed the crimes and sent the case to a lower court with the instructions that he be acquitted of the murders. Additionally, James Card, David Snelgrove, Barry Davis, and Michael Hernandez were all granted new sentencing hearings, as their death sentences were not delivered by an unanimous jury.
Ronald Phillips was scheduled to be executed in Ohio on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. His execution has been rescheduled to July 26, 2017, due to ongoing legal challenges. Ronald has had his execution rescheduled multiple times over the past three years due to various legal challenges. To read more about Ronald’s case click here. To read more about the ongoing legal challenges facing Ohio, click here.