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IDPN 2020

International Death Penalty News 2020, Issue 26: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Zimbabwe

June 26, 2020
IDPN 2020 Issue 26

Iran: On Thursday, June 11, 2020, an unnamed man was executed by public hanging in Firuraq, West Azerbaijan. He was convicted of killing his mother-in-law and brother-in-law and sentenced to qisas (retribution in kind).

On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 31-year-old Yasser Abdollahzadeh was executed by hangin at Shiraz central prison. He was convicted of murdering another man over a financial dispute three years ago. His execution has not been announced by the state media.

On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, Omid Hashem-Zehi was executed by hanging at Zahedan prison. He was 27 years of age. He was arrested two years ago and sentenced to death for murder. His execution has not been announced by the state media.

Amir-Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi, were all arrested and sentenced to death for their participation in the November 2019 protests. Moradi was coerced into confessing that he had set fire to banks and gas stations during the riots. All three have been accused of being affiliated with a terrorist organization, a charge that all three have always denied.

It has been confirmed that political prisoner Hedayat Abdullahpour has been executed, as his family received an official death certificate. While executions are usually carried out by hanging, Hedayat was executed by firing squad, the first time it has been used since the 1980s. Hedayat was arrested on June 15, 2016, and was accused of providing food and shelter to rebel forces.

Pakistan: Sajid Soomro, a professor of Sindhi literature at Shah Abdul Latif University in Khairpur, was arrested and charged with blasphemy earlier this month. The university stated that it had not had any blasphemy complaints against Soomro from his students, and that he was known for being open-minded and advocated equal rights. Soomro is also a practicing Muslim who has denied the blasphemy charges against him. Those who are speaking up in defense of Soomro are also being threatened. This is the latest in many cases that have led to some calls for the controversial blasphemy law to be removed, as it is often thought to be used for personal grudges, with baseless accusations. However, religious leaders are against the removal of the law.

Saudi Arabia: On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Hadi Bin Kadamah was executed after spending 28 years in prison. He was the kingdom’s longest serving inmate. Bin Kadamah was convicted of murdering his cousin in 1992, after the two got into a dispute. For years, he has been asking the victim’s family for forgiveness, including in the moment leading up to his death. Executions are carried out in the kingdom by beheading.

Taiwan: Cheng Yu has had his death sentence overturned during his second trial from the rape and murder of a 23-year-old model, with the surname Chen. The murder occurred in February 2017. After the murder, Cheng used the victims phone and credit cards. At his first trial, he was sentenced to death, however, upon review, the court decided that capital punishment was not necessary. An appeal to reinstate the death penalty can be made to the Supreme Court.

United Arab Emirates: A Pakistani national was arrested shortly after the murder of an Indian couple at Dubai’s Arabian Ranches. If he is convicted of the murder, he could be sentenced to death. It is believed that the man entered the Indian family’s home through an unlocked door and attempted to murder the couple’s daughter, as well as burglarize the home before he fled the scene.

United States of America: On Monday, June 22, 2020, Eric Frein was scheduled to be executed in Pennsylvania. Thirty-seven-year-old Eric is convicted of the murder of 38-year-old State Police Corporal Byron Dickson II, on September 12, 2014, at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania. His execution was stayed by the Pike County Common Pleas Court, as he has not yet completed all of his appeals.

A federal judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas has ruled that Arkansas’ method of execution is constitutional and could be used to carry out executions in the state. Arkansas’ last execution was in April 2017, when four men were executed over a two week period. Inmates in Arkansas were challenging the state’s lethal injection method, arguing it was a violation of their 8th Amendment rights, as the first drug, midazolam, a sedative, did not always fully sedate a person, as some observers noted movement after the drug was administered. In the ruling, the judge noted that one of the side effects of midazolam is muscle tremors and involuntary movement. Additionally, not all witnesses agreed that there was movement.

The trial of Nikolas Cruz, who is accused of shooting up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, in Florida, is on hold indefinitely due to coronavirus related restrictions. Nikolas is accused of fatally shooting 17 people, and wounding 17 others. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death. According to his lawyers, Nikolas would agree to forgo a trial and plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence, however prosecutors have not agreed to such a deal and are planning to proceed with the trial and seeking the death penalty. One of the major issues that has prevented the trial from moving forward is the inability to question possibly hundred of prospective jurors at the courthouse in order to form the jury.

On May 15, 2020, Jamal O’Neal Jackson was found unresponsive in his cell on death row in Alabama. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Jamal was 29 years of age and sentenced to death for the July 4, 2014, murder of 26-year-old Satori Richardson. Jamal was sentenced to death in 2017. Although an investigation into his death is ongoing, it is believed that he died from suicide.

Zimbabwe: Twenty-nine-year-old Romeo Jambara and 31-year-old Norest Tamangani have been sentenced to death for the murder of Taruvinga Mutiza, a taxi driver. However, it is unlikely that they will be executed, as there has been a de facto moratorium on executions in the nation since 2005. Those sentenced to death have had their death sentences commuted to life in prison, after a few years.

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