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IDPN 2021

International Death Penalty News 2021, Issue 23: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United States of America

June 4, 2021
IDPN 2021 Issue 23

China: A teacher, with the surname Yang, has been sentence to death after being convicted of raping and molesting numerous students since 2001. Yang was convicted of raping nine young girls at a Baisha primary school in Hunan. Another teacher, with the surname Mi, participated with Yang in the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl. Mi received a sentence of 17 years in prison. The two men were convicted in August of 2020, however the case was only recently revealed to the public.

Iran: On Sunday, May 30, 2021, Yousef Pirostovan and his ex-wife, Shamsi Pirostovan were executed by hanging at Qazvin Central Prison. They were married at the time of their arrest. They were convicted on drug related charges. Shamsi is the sixth woman to be executed in the country this year, and the first woman to be executed under the 2017 amendment to the Anti-Narcotics law, which restricts the use of capital punishment in drug related cases. The amendment has led to a reduction in the number of executions for drug related crimes since its implementation, however executions for drug crimes continue to be carried out.

Saudi Arabia: On Monday, May 24, 2021, a man, who was scheduled to be executed by beheading, was granted forgiveness and pardon by his victim’s father minutes before the execution was scheduled to be carried out. Unusually, the father, Awad Suleiman Al-Amrani, did not demand bloody money as payment for his forgiveness. Awad’s son was killed in a fight four years ago. As part of his forgiveness, Awad stipulated that neither the killer nor his family should celebrate the forgiveness, nor should they attempt to raise money or attend any events that are planned as a result of the waiver. If the family fails to follow these demands, the family of the victim can again demand the killer be beheaded.

United States of America: On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, Gerald Pizzuto was scheduled to be executed by the state of IdahoHis execution was cancelled following the recommendation of the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Paroles, which recommends a commutation hearing for Gerald in November 2021. Sixty-five-year-old Gerald is convicted of beating to death 58-year-old Berta Herndon and her nephew, 37-year-old Del Dean Herndon, at a mountain cabin near McCall, Idaho. 

In an attempt to restart executions in the state, Arizona has refurbished it gas chamber and bought ingredients to make cyanide gas. The gas chamber was built in 1949, and was last used for the execution of Walter LaGrand, a German national in 1999. Walter had been convicted of murder during a bank robbery. Allegedly, Walter choked and gagged during his execution, taking 18 minutes to die. For years, the state used lethal injection, however the 2014 execution of Joseph Wood, which took two hours and multiple injections of the lethal injection drugs, resulted in a halt of executions in state while an investigation was carried out. Preparations to resume using the gas chamber in Arizona, and the gas they plan on using, has brought up unfavorable comparisons to Holocaust and the massive gas chambers used at Auschwitz and other camps, which killed over 6 million Jewish people.

A district attorney in California has announced that prosecutors will not seek another death penalty for Scott Peterson. Nearly 20 years ago, Scott was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, in a case that captured the attention of the nation. Last year, the California Supreme Court through out Scott’s death sentence due to a jury member withholding information that could make them bias. The prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty against after consultation with the family of the victims. While the family believes that Scott is guilty and that his crimes warrant the death penalty, they do not wish to go through the painful process again. Scott has insisted that he has been falsely convicted of the murders.

Richard Allen Benson, a death row inmate in Californiahas died at the age of 74. It is believed that he died of natural causes and no foul play is suspected in his death, although an autopsy has not yet been completed. Richard was convicted in 1987 for the brutal murder of Laura Camargo and her three children, 23-month-old Sterling, three-year-old Shawna, and 4-year-old Stephanie, on January 5, 1986.

On Friday, May 14, 2021, former Texas death row inmate, Cesar Roberto Fierro, was released from prison and returned to his home country of Mexico. Sixty-four-year-old Cesar was convicted in 1980, of the robbery and murder of Nicolas Castanon, a taxi driver in El Paso, Texas. Nicolas was murder on February 27, 1979. After being convicted, Cesar was sentenced to death for his crime. Forty years after his conviction, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tossed his sentenced due to faulty instructions given to his jury regarding mitigating evidence. Although his conviction stood, Cesar was to be given a new sentencing hearing. Prosecutors refused to seek the death penalty again. In January 2020, Cesar was sentenced to life in prison, with immediately eligibility for parole, which was quickly granted by the Texas Parole Board.

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