International Death Penalty News 2020, Issue 07: India, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Somalia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, United States of America
February 14, 2020
IDPN 2020 Issue 07
India: Thirty-three-year-old Kastarai and 35-year-old Bhanjoy have been sentenced to death by a special district court in southern Tripura. The two men are convicted of the brutal gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old school girl on December 5, 2018. The girl was kidnapped while she was walking to school. After her murder, she was buried in the nearby jungle.
Iran: On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Hadi Mahi and Sadeq Akbarpour were allegedly executed by hanging at Adelabad Prison. The executions have not been reported by the state media. The two men were convicted of murder and rape.
Japan: On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 70-year-old Yoshiro Asa died of pneumonia, while on death row in Tokyo. Asa had been convicted and sentenced to death for the murder one person in 1997, and two others in 2000. Asa, the head of a construction company, was sentenced to death in 2006, after the bodies of the three individuals were found at a campsite in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture in 2003.
Pakistan: The National Assembly has passed a resolution that calls for the public hanging of those found guilty of sexually abusing and murdering minors. The resolution is believed to be a response to a recent brutal killing of an eight-year-old in Nowshera. While the resolution holds no legal power, it signals the mentality and mood of the lawmakers. Human rights groups have opposed the resolution, and the mere idea of it becoming law, arguing that capital punishment is inhuman, fails to deliver justice, and is a cruel and unusual punishment.
Muslim clerics are demanding a 14-year-old Hindu girl, Mehak Kumari, be beheaded for saying she was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry a Muslim man, Ali Raza. While Mehak initially gave statements saying the marriage and conversion to Islam was voluntary, she has since retracted them, sparking outrage. The Muslim clerics have accused her of Apostasy and demanding she be killed for insulting Islam. Further, the clerics have said that if the outcome they want is not granted, they will go to the Shariah Court.
Somalia: On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, bdifatah Abdirahman Warsame and Abdisakur Mohamed Dige were executed by firing squad for their part in the rape and murder of 12-year-old Aisha Ilyas Aden in Galkayo city in Puntland one year ago. A third man, Cabdisalam Abdiraham Warsame has also been convicted and sentenced to death, however, his execution has been postponed pending further investigation.
Singapore: The High Court has dismissed a request from 33-year-old Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, who wanted to challenge the rejection of his clemency plea. Pannir has been convicted and sentenced to death for importing heroin. He was scheduled to be executed in May 2019, however that execution was stayed by the Court of Appeal in order to consider the possibility of pursuing a challenge against the rejection of his clemency petition to President Halimah Yacob.
Switzerland: Switzerland abolished capital punishment from federal criminal law in 1942, and from military criminal law in 1992, with the last execution in the nation occurred during World War II. Currently, Switzerland is helping to lead the global fight against capital punishment, with the goal to eliminate capital punishment throughout the world by the year 2025. Interestingly, Switzerland is now allowing prisoners to request their deaths through assisted suicide. Assisted suicide has been a controversial issue in recent years as it becomes more popular and common. Not all are in favor of allowing prisoners to petition to die through assisted suicide, with some saying it is not all that different from capital punishment. While prisoners can petition for assisted suicide, their requests will not be guaranteed to be granted.
Thailand: The death sentenced has been upheld for Krittidech Rawengwan, a former village chief, who was arrested in April 2016, for the attempted rape and murder of then-18-year-old Nong Snow. Snow was returning home on her motorcycles, when she was attacked by Rawengwan, who was following her on another motorcycle. Rawengwan attempted to rape Snow, who fought back and managed to escape. Snow later died from her injuries. Rawengwan was found guilty and sentenced to death.
United States of America: Melvin D. Bonnell was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to March 18, 2021. Sixty-two-year-old Melvin is convicted of murdering 23-year-old Robert Bunner in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 28, 1986. Melvin has spent the last 31 years on Ohio’s death row.
Prosecutors in Georgia are seeking the death penalty for Elwyn Crocker Sr., Candice Crocker, Mark Anthony Wright, and Kim Wright, in connection with the deaths of 14-year-old Mary Crocker and 14-year-old Elwyn Crocker, Jr., who were discovered buried in the backyard of the family home in December 2018. A fifth man, Roy Anthony Prater, has also been charged but a death sentence is not being sought against him. All five are charged with the murder and abuse of Mary, while only three are charged with the murder of Elwyn, who was last seen approximately two years before Mary was killed. All five have entered not guilty pleas.
Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Crusius could be sentenced to death for the murder of 22 individuals inside a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The shooting rampage has been classified as a federal hate crime, as Crusius has admitted that he wanted to killed Mexicans. In addition to the 90 federal charges against him, Crusius is also facing state charges of murder, again with the possibility of being sentenced to death. Crusius, despite his confession, has entered a not guilty plea to the state charges.
A jury in Louisiana has recommend a death sentence for 35-year-old Kyle Joekel for the deaths of two St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies in 2012. On August 16, 2012, deputies Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche were killed in an early morning shootout at a LaPlace trailer park. The deputies were there, along with three others, investigating a lead in the shooting of an off-duty deputy earlier that morning. The lead indicated that the shooter had fled to the trailer park. Joekel was one of the leaders of the trailer park’s band of “sovereign citizens,” who refused to cooperate with police. Joekel obtained an AK-47 and began shooting at the police, shooting an injured Deputy Triche and firing at point blank range at Deputy Nielsen. A judge must officially sentenced Joekel, and no sentencing date has yet been set. There are currently 68 individuals on death row in Lousiana, which hasn’t carried out an execution in over 10 years.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and current Democratic presidential hopeful, has joined many other Democratic presidential hopefuls in condemning capital punishment. In 2019, Mayor Buttigieg outlined his vision of criminal justice reform, should he become president, reform which including abolishing capital punishment, which he called a “discriminatory practice.” In the same speech, he also called solitary confinement “a form of torture,” and said there were many racial disparities in the criminal justice system that needed to be reformed. Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the front runners in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, has also condemned capital punishment and called for its abolishment.
Thirty-one-year-old Rahmael Holt has been sentenced to death in Pennsylvania, becoming the 133rd person on death row in the state. Holt is convicted of the murder of New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw in November 2017. Officer Shaw was chasing Holt, who had fled from a car after a traffic stop, when he was shot and killed. Holt, who has a lengthly criminal record beginning when he was 16 years of age, was a convicted felon prior to the murder and was not allowed to possess the gun he used to kill Officer Shaw. Prosecutors argued that Holt fled from the car because he risked being sent back to prison in violation of his parole, if Officer Shaw had decided to search the car and found the weapon.
There are 26, out of 47, death row inmates in Oklahoma that have exhausted their appeals and could be scheduled for execution. However, executions have been on hold in Oklahoma for the last five years, and the state struggles to develop a satisfactory execution protocol. Execution were halted in 2015, after it became known that an incorrect drug was supplied to be used for the lethal injection of Richard Glossip. Now, the state has announced that it has found a reliable supply of execution drugs and that an updated version of a previous execution protocol will be used. The three drug protocol will include the use of midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. After the drug mishap in 2015, the state explored the option of switching to nitrogen gas, however they have faced difficulties in obtaining the necessary equipment.
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