May 1, 2020
IDPN 2020 Issue 18
Bahamas: Simeon Bain grew up having limited education, which resulted in poor reading ability. In 2013, he was accused of murder and forced to represent himself during his trial, after his lawyers withdrew at the start of the trial. Simeon was convicted of killing Rashad Morris and was facing a sentence of death. Now, the Privy Council has overturned his conviction, noting that while there is not a guaranteed right to representation, a defendant in a murder trial and facing capital punishment, should be continuously represented. The Privy Council also described the case as one of “serious mismanagement” by the judge.
Chad: The Chadian National Assembly has voted to abolish the death penalty in the nation. The vote was unanimous. In 2016, a reformed Penal Code was adopted, which only permitted capital punishment for those convicted of terrorism. With the most recent voted, capital punishment will be abolished completely.
China: Between 2017 and 2019, over 70 injuries and deaths have been attributed to broken or stolen manhole covers. To combat the rising problem, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and the Ministry of Public Security have issued a joint statement that anyone found to have stolen or damaged a manhole cover should be more harshly penalized. The crime can now be classified as “endangering transportation” or “endangering public safety,” both of which carry a maximum sentence of death.
India: The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentences of Rajesh Daware and Arvind Singh, who were convicted of kidnapping and murdering an eight-year-old boy on September 1, 2004. Their sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment, where they must serve at least 25 years before remission can be considered. The victim, Yug Chandak, was the son of a doctor. Rajesh and Arvind kidnapped the child and demanded a ransom. Rajesh had previously worked in the hospital with the boy’s father. He was fired for misappropriating money.
Iran: Four years ago, on April 26, 2016, Swedish-Iranian Ahmadreza Djalali, was arrested in Teheran, where was participating in a workshop on disaster medicine. Ahmadreza was accused of cooperating with hostile states and spying for Israel. Little to no evidence was presented to support these allegations, however, Ahmadreza was sentenced to death in 2017, and he remains on death row. The United Nations has previously called Ahmadreza’s trial unfair and now, during the recent coronavirus epidemic, Ahmadreza’s case has come to light again, due to his work with disaster medicine. Sweden has attempted to secure his release in the past, and continues to work towards that goal.
On Friday, March 24, 2020, Ramyar Mokhles and Vahed Feizi were executed by hanging at the central prison in Sanandaj, in Kurdistan province. Both were convicted on separate murder charges and sentenced to qisas (retribution in-kind).
On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, Faegh Sharifi was executed by hanging at Sanandaj prison. He was convicted of murdering his neighbor.
Zarar Peyghami and Yasser Rasouli were executed by hanging on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at the Urmia prison. Both were convicted and sentenced to death for murder.
Saudi Arabia: A royal decree has been issued, according the nation’s Human Rights Commission, that children under the age of 18 will no longer be eligible for the death penalty. They will now face a maximum punishment of 10 years in juvenile detention. While the details of the royal decree have not yet been released, it is thought that loopholes remain that will continue to allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for children under the age of 18, for example, for those convicted of terrorism. It is unclear if the order will be applied retroactively. There are at least three inmates on death row in the Kingdom that were convicted of crimes committed prior to the age of 18.
Sudan: The government is working to remove Article 126 of nation’s Penal Code, which allows the death penalty for those who choose to leave the Islamic faith. Islam is the largest religion in the nation, with 97 percent of the population identifying as Muslim.
United States of America: On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Billy Wardlow was scheduled to be executed in Texas. His execution has been rescheduled to Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Forty-five-year-old Billy is convicted of the murder of 82-year-old Carl Cole in Cason, Texas, on June 14, 1993. His execution was likely rescheduled due to the inability to carry out executions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Four federal death row inmates have asked an appeals court to rehear their case, which challenges the plans by the Trump administration to resume executions. A divided panel of judges had previously upheld the new execution protocol. The inmates are asking that the full DC Circuit Court of Appeals hear the case.
On August 3, 2019, Patrick Crusius opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, targeting Latinos. The death toll from that shooting now stands at 23, after the final hospitalized victim from the shooting died due to complications from the shooting. Another capital murder charge is being sought against Patrick for the death. Numerous other capital murder charges are pending against him, as well as federal hate crimes. Patrick remains in prison while judges are deciding if the state of the federal charges will be tried first.
In February 1980, Vincent Lamont Martin was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Richmond police officer Michael P. Conners during a routine traffic stop. Several irregularities occurred during the trial, including the prosecution withholding evidence from the defense and the trial occurring less than 90 days after the crime, giving the defense no time to prepare for the trial. The Virginia Supreme Court overturned the conviction and he was resentenced to life with the possibility of parole. After 26 years in prison, Vincent was scheduled to be released on Thursday, April 30, 2020. His release has been postponed to Monday, May 11, 2020. Various state law enforcement groups have spoken out against Vincent being granted parole and have demanded the governor conduct and independent investigation in the Parole Board’s decision.
On Thursday, April 30, 2020, Alfonso Raymond Salazar, a death row inmate in Arizona, died due to complications from COVID-19. Alfonso had been in the hospital since April 21, 2020. He was 56 years of age. Alfonso was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 83-year-old Sarah Kaplan in her Tucson, Arizona home on July 25, 1986.
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