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IDPN 2020

International Death Penalty News 2020, Issue 33: China, Iran, Nigeria, United States of America

August 14, 2020
IDPN 2020 Issue 33

China: On Thursday, August 6, 2020, Xu Weihong, a Canadian national, was sentenced to death in China on drug related charges. The Canadian government has spoken out in opposition to the sentence. Xu was arrested in 2016, with large quantities of ketamine in his home.

On Friday, August 7, 2020, Ye Jianhui, a Canadian national was sentenced to death by the Foshan Municipal Intermediate Court in Guangdong. He was convicted of manufacturing and transporting illegal drugs. Death sentences automatically go to China’s highest court for review. Canada, who opposes all death sentences and executions, has spoken out in opposition to Ye’s death sentence.

Iran: On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, two men were executed at Qom Central Prison. They were identified as Abolfazl Bigzadeh, around 25 years old, and Rouhollah Sabzi, around 30 years old. The two men were arrested in early 2009, for possession of methamphetamine and heroin. The drugs were found in the back seat of the vehicle in which they were driving. The two men claimed no knowledge of the drugs, saying someone else must have hid them, however the courts did not accept this argument. The executions have not been announced by the state media.

On Wednesday, August 5, 2020, Ali Farajnia was executed by hanging at Qom Central Prison. Ali was convicted of carrying methamphetamine. His execution has not been announced by the state media.

On Thursday, August 6, 2020, Mehrzad Jalalvand was executed by hanging at Rasht Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. Mehrzad was convicted of killing a neighbor’s son by pushing him to the ground, which resulted in a cerebral hemorrhage and death. The son had previously stabbed Mehrzad’s father during a fight. Mehrzad had stated numerous times that he did not intend to kill the victim, however, Iran’s judiciary laws lack degrees of murders. Mehrzad’s execution has not been announced by official media outlets.

Also on Thursday, August 6, 2020, brothers Gholamreza and Ali Tahouneh were executed by hanging at Tabriz Central Prison. The brothers were sentenced to death over five years ago for murder.

On Friday, August 7, 2020, Jeffar Tayebi was executed by hanging at Qom Central Prison. He was convicted of murdering the son of his landlord three years ago. He was charged with premeditated murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. Jeffar’s execution has not been announced by official media outlets.

On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, 39-year-old Fayegh Ahmadi was executed by hanging at Sanandaj Central Prison. He was sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind, for the death of his friend during a mass dispute. Fayegh has been on death row for the last 13 years.

Nigeria: Twenty-two-year-old singer Yahaya Aminu Sharif has been sentenced to death by hanging by an Upper Islamic Sharia court for blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed. Following the release of the song on social media, riots occurred in the city, which burnt down his family home. Sharif is a Tijaniyya Sufi muslim, whose beliefs are considered heretical because they differ from some of the basic Islamic principles. While Sharia courts have frequently handed out death sentences for a variety of crimes, no execution have yet been carried out.

Sixty-year-old Mati Abdul has been sentenced to death by stoning for the 2019 rape of a girl in his home village. Abdul has confessed to the crime, and refused to reverse his confession, as allowed by Sharia laws.

United States of America: On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, Douglas Coley was scheduled to be executed by the state of Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Forty-four-year-old Douglas is convicted of murdering 21-year-old Samar El-Okdi in Toledo, Ohio, on January 3, 1997.

Forty-six-year-old Richard Greene and his wife, 38-year-old Sonya Greene have been charged with aggravated murder in the first degree, felony assault, and endangering a child in 2020, in Ohio. If convicted, the two could be sentenced to death. Richard and Sonya are accused of murdering a 5-year-old foster child in their care. The couple also had two other foster children in their care at the time of the child’s death. Previously, in 2015, Sonya had been charged with child endangering.

For the last 14 years, death row inmates in California have been challenging the state’s lethal injection protocol. However, since there is currently a moratorium on executions in the state, and the state’s death chamber has been dismantled, a conditional settlement has been reached to end the lawsuit. Due to the aforementioned facts, the prisoners have voluntarily agreed to drop the lawsuit, while California agreed to provide the lawyers for the prisoners and the federal court advance written notice of any future Governor’s intention to end the moratorium on executions, adopt an execution protocol, or reassemble the execution chamber. Should the moratorium be lifted, the inmates can reactivate the lawsuit and any death row inmate who has complete their appeals at that time can join the renewed lawsuit.

Prosecutors in Alabama have announced that they will be seeking the death penalty for Robert Elmore, Jr., and his girlfriend, Samantha McCormack. The couple is accused of killing a toddler, Enzo McCormack, Samantha’s son, in September of 2019. Samantha’s three other children had been removed from her care earlier that year, however, they had been returned by the courts with the instruction to stay away from Robert, who had a history of abuse.

On Sunday, August 9, 2020, Pedro Arias, a death row inmate in California, died at an outside hospital. While the exact cause of death has not yet been determined, it is thought he died of COVID-19 complications. Pedro was 58 years of age. He was sentenced to death on March 1990, for murder and robbery with a firearm. He also had other convictions that earned him a life sentence, without the possibility of parole.

Vietnam: Forty-year-old Cher Wei Hon, a Singaporean national, has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Vietnam. Cher confessed to the crime, saying he had been hired to transport the drugs from Cambodia to Vietnam.

Four men, 35-year-old Le Ngoc Son, 40-year-old Tran Van Luc, 34-year-old Nguyen Quang Bich, and 36-year-old Mai Dinh Phuoc, have all been sentenced to death for trafficking methamphetamine from Laos to Nghe An. From Nghe An, the drugs would be delivered to other parts of the nation.

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