International Death Penalty News 2021, Issue 22: China, India, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Sudan, Taiwan, United States of America, Vietnam
May 28, 2021
IDPN 2021 Issue 22
China: On Friday, May 21, 2021, Xiang Hui was sentenced to death for the murder of 45-year-old Zhou Chunmei, a judge on the Hunan High People’s Court. Xiang killed Zhou after Zhou refused to put in a good word for Xiang with another judge. In order to carry out the murder, Xiang obtained a job working as a cleaner in Zhou’s building.
Dr. Yang Hengjun, an Australian national, is facing espionage charges in China. Despite repeated requests by Australia, China has not provided evidence or an explanation for the charges Yang is facing. Additionally, Yang has been denied access to his family and had limited access to legal representation. Yang is a writer and democracy activist in Australia. If convicted of the espionage charges against him, Yang could be sentenced to death. Yang’s wife, an Australian resident, has been banned from leaving China.
India: On Monday, May 24, 2021, a court in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh sentenced to death 12 members of a notorious gang. Seven others were also convicted and sentenced to life in prison. All were convicted for highway robbery and murder.
Iran: On Saturday, April 24, 2021, six Baluch prisoners were secretly executed at Birjand Central Prison. They had all been convicted on drug related charges. One of the men has been identified as Javad Nakhaei, while the other five have not yet been identified. The executions have not been reported by the official state media.
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, Abdullah and Younes Totazehi, Baluch minorities, were executed by hanging at Birjand Central Prison. The uncle and nephew were executed on drug related charges.
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 25-year-old Sajad was executed by public hanging at Mashhad Central Prison. Sajad was convicted of murdering a 42-year-old man and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. The murder allegedly occurred during a fight in February of 2019. On the same day, 31-year-old Ghassem B. Was also executed in the prison.
On Sunday, May 23, 2021, 41-year-old Kobra Fatemi was executed by hanging at Yazd Central Prison. Kobra was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. She was convicted of murdering her husband in 2015. Some of his family had considered granting forgiveness, however, one member, who is a member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, insisted that the execution be carried out and that no diva (blood money) be accepted. Kobra had no children with her husband and the murder was allegedly committed over a family dispute.
Seventy-four-year-old Iran Khorramdin, and 81-year-old Akbar Khorramdin confessed to police that they drugged, murdered, and dismembered their 47-year-old film-making son, Babak Khorramdin. The couple also confessed to murdering their daughter and son-in-law the same way years earlier. The stunning confessions, have caused many to question, why the young couples disappearance was not investigated earlier. The parents claimed that their children and son-in-law were corrupt and deserved to be executed. According to Iranian law, parents who kill their children can only be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in jail. However, if they are convicted of murdering their son-in-law, they could be sentenced to death. Police are also further investigating the elderly couple to see if any other family members have gone missing in mysterious circumstances.
After spending eight years on death row, Saleh Shariati has been acquitted. When Seleh was around 16 years of age, he was working on a farm when a worker near him fell into a well and died. Seleh was arrested and allegedly tortured into confessing to murder. Although a juvenile, he was sentenced to death, a violation of international law, and despite three eyewitnesses testifying that the deceased fell in while washing his hair. The Supreme Court acquitted Seleh after several breaches in the case.
Kuwait: A doctor working at the College of Medicine at Kuwait University has been accused of assaulting his nephew with dumbbell. The victims survived the attack, however, he has been left with a broken skull and paralyzed on his right side. The attack allegedly occurred due to a family dispute. If convicted, the doctor could be sentenced to death.
Malaysia: On Friday, May 21, 2021, married couple, 37-year-old Aaron Teoh Eng Wan and 40-year-old En Sit Mooi were sentenced to death for the murder of their eight-year-old son, Adrian Teoh Wai Kit, at a massage center on May 26, 20217.
Sudan: On Monday, May 24, 2021, Youssef Mohieldin al-Fiky, a major with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, was sentenced to death for killing a demonstrator two years ago while breaking up a protest camp in the capital, Khartoum. During the break up, over 120 people were killed, including 22-year-old Hanafy Abdel-Shakour, the man killed by Youssef.
Taiwan: Twenty-four-year-old Wang Ping-hua has been sentenced to death by a Taiwanese court, after he was convicted of murdering a scooter driver in a random knife attack. Wang was reportedly angry because he had just argued with his wife over where they should eat together. Taiwan currently has 39 prisoners on death row. The last execution took place in April 2020.
United States of America: On Thursday, May 27, 2021, Gregory Lott was scheduled to be executed in Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to February 15, 2024. Fifty-nine-year-old Gregory is convicted of murdering 82-year-old John McGrath during a robbery in his East Cleveland home on July 12, 1986. Gregory has had several previous execution dates. Most recently, Ohio has struggled to obtain execution drugs. Read more about the problems Ohio has experienced here.
The Supreme Court of the United States has decided not to hear the appeal of Ernest Johnson, a death row inmate in Missouri. Ernest was arguing that the method of execution the state planned to use, lethal injection, would likely cause him excruciating pain, in the form of intense and painful seizures. Ernest first requested that he be executed by nitrogen gas, a method not currently approved by the state. Additionally, nitrogen gas has never been used in an execution in the Untied States. Previously, in a separate case, the Supreme Court ruled that nitrogen gas was not considered a feasible alternative, due to its novelty. Ernest then attempted to change his request to be executed by firing squad, which is also not a currently an approved method of execution in Missouri, however the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the request to change his lawsuit came too late. Ernest was appealing the decision of the 8th Circuit, which the Supreme Court rejected.
Two death row inmates in South Carolina have sued the state, arguing that the new law requiring death row inmates to choose between execution by firing squad or execution by electric chair is unconstitutional, as lethal injection was the main method of execution when they were sentenced to death. Death by firing squad was recently passed into law in South Carolina, and the state does not yet have a protocol in place for carrying out execution by firing squad. Lethal injection drugs have become increasingly difficult for states to obtain, leading for states to begin looking at other possible means of carrying out executions.
In May 2003, police found five bodies in varying stages of decomposition in the Mayport, Florida mobile home of Billy Wells, who was later nicknamed the “Monster of Mayport.” Billy was later sentenced to life in prison as part of a deal that allowed him to escape being sentenced to death. In 2011, Billy was given another life sentence for murdering an inmate. Now, on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Billy has been sentenced to death, following his conviction for his 7th murder, that of fellow Florida State Prison inmate William Chapman, in 2019. Billy is now 45 years of age and has repeatedly told prosecutors that he wants to be executed. His sentence will automatically be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
Vietnam: Thirty-seven-year-old Pham Cao Khuong has been sentenced to death by a court in Hanoi, after being convicted on drug related charges. He was arrested last year and found to be carrying thousands of ecstasy pills. A search of his home revealed more drugs.
Thirty-three-year-old Phan Phi Long, 27-year-old Hoang Anh Vu, and 36-yera-old Vo Tuan Tai have all been convicted and sentenced to death for illegally transporting, trading, and possessing narcotics. The men were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on September 20, 2019.
On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 23-year-old Nigerian national Theophilus Ugwu, was sentenced to death after being convicted of smuggling methamphetamine from Cambodia to Vietnam. Theophilus was arrested with nearly six kilograms of meth on him. Theophilus alleges that he was hired to transport a bag, but did not know that the bag contained drugs.
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