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IDPN 2021

International Death Penalty News 2021, Issue 37: China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Yemen

September 10, 2021
IDPN 2021 Issue 37

China

Lao Rongzhi was sentenced to death after being convicted of a series of murders, robberies, and kidnappings, that left seven people dead. The crimes occurred between 1996 and 1999. She was finally arrested on November 28, 2019, after spending 20 years on the run. Lao ex-boyfriend, who helped her commit some of the crimes, had previously been arrested and was executed within a year of being convicted.

Egypt

Seven Pakistanis, two Egyptians, and an Iranian are sentenced to death for smuggling drugs. All were arrested carrying drugs including crystal methamphetamine and heroin. The men were arrested in 2019. They can appeal their sentences.

Indonesia

An Indonesian national, 36-year-old Ical Samerin returned to Indonesia from Malaysia, after an appeals court overturned his death sentence. Ical was arrested on May 2, 2017, and charged with murdering an Indonesian woman. In 2020, Ical was sentenced to death. The Court of Appeals, upon review, acquitted Ical of all charges. Upon returning to Indonesia, he was reunited with his family, who he had not seen in four years.

Iran

Authorities arrested Hadi Attazadeh for drinking alcohol. He was then sentenced to be flogged. Hours after being flogged, Hadi died in a hospital. His cause of death is unclear. Hadi’s family claims he died as a result of the flogging, while state officials claim he died from drug poising and abdominal pain. In the nation’s Penal Code, a third conviction for drinking alcohol results in an automatic sentence of death.

On Sunday, September 5, 2021, 45-year-old Nourahmad was executed by hanging at Mashhad Central Prison. Nourahmad was convicted of murdering and an 81-year-old male and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind.

Saudi Arabia

On Monday, September 6, 2021, officials executed an unnamed man in Dammam. The man was convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell and targeting security personnel to destabilized national security. Executions in the kingdom are traditionally carried out by beheading. This year, at least 40 people have been executed so far in the kingdom.

United States of America

Texas planned to execute John Ramirez on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. John received a stay of execution by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court has ordered oral arguments on the case to be scheduled for October or November of this year. Before his execution, John filed an appeal with the Supreme Court arguing his constitutionally protected religious rights were being violated because his pastor could not hold him while he was being executed. Lower courts previously rejected the argument. John was sentenced to death for the murder and robbery of Pablo Castro, a convenience store clerk in Corpus Christi in 2004.

Lawmakers in Utah introduced legislation that would “repeal and replace” the death penalty in the state. Options for replacing death sentences included sentences of 45-years to life, life without parole, and 25-years to life in prison. Lawmakers worked on the bill with prosecutors for months. The last inmate executed in Utah was Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010. Supports of the bill argue that legal appeals in death penalty cases take decades, frequently with victim’s family members dying before an execution can be carried out. Currently, seven men reside on death row in the state, where a firing squad is the default method of execution. This is not the first time a bill has been introduced to ban capital punishment in the state. Previous efforts have failed.

Nikolas Cruz is charged with murdering 17 people during a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him. Attorneys for Nikolas are seeking to have him sentenced to life in prison. Nikolas has currently pled not guilty to the crime but would be willing to change his plea to guilty in exchange for a life sentence. No trial date has yet been set.

Matthew Taylor Coleman, a surf shop owner in California, has been charged with the murder of his two-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death. Matthew took his two children to Mexico, where he killed them with a spearfishing gun. Matthew and his children were reported missing by his wife, Abby when he left with the children and never came back. He also did not tell her where he was going.

John O’Conner, the Attorney General for Oklahoma is pushing back its timetable for resuming executions in the state. Initially, the first execution date was sought for John Grant on October 7, 2021, however, since the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals failed to respond in time to provide the inmate with the required 35-day notice, O’Conner is seeking to have Grant’s execution date set for October 28 or November 18. O’Conner is also seeking execution dates for six other men and asked that they be set at three-week intervals to allow time for potential clemency hearings. In addition to Grant, O’Conner is also asking that execution dates be set for Julius Jones, Bigler Stouffer, Wade Lay, Donald Grant, Gilbert Postelle, and James Coddington.

On Tuesday, August 24, 2021, Sherwood Dwayne Brown was released from prison in Mississippi. Sherwood was convicted and sentenced to death in 1995, after being convicted of murdering 82-year-old Betty Boyd, 49-year-old Berline Boyd, and 13-year-old Evangela Charmain Boyd, on January 7, 1993. Sherwood’s conviction was overturned in 2017, by the Mississippi Supreme Court. DNA testing of evidence found at the crime scene helped overturn his sentence. Initially, state prosecutors announced that they intended to retry the case, however, after several years, they requested that the case be dismissed. This led to Sherwood’s release from prison.

Another death sentence will not be sought by Florida prosecutors for 40-year-old Justin Heyne. Sentenced to death on December 17, 2009, Justin was convicted of murdering Benjamin Hamilton, Sarah Buckoski, and their five-year-old daughter Ivory. The jury did not unanimously vote to sentence Justin to death, so in 2017, following a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court on the legality of non-unanimous jury death recommendations, his sentence was converted to life in prison. Justin has not yet received his new sentence.

Yemen

On Monday, September 6, 2021, four people were executed for murdering Abdullah Al-Aghbari. Abdullah died on August 26, 2020, after being brutally tortured. The murder was recorded. The four men were identified as Abdullah al-Sibai, Walid al-Amri, Muhammad al-Hamidi and Dalil al-Jerba. The execution was carried out by firing squad in public.

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