International Death Penalty News 2023, Issue 02: Bangladesh, Iran, United States of America
International Death Penalty News 2023
January 13, 2023
On Monday, January 9, 2023, 50-year-old Saiful Islam Rafique, alias Saidul Islam Rafique was executed at the Kashimpur Central High-Security Jail in Gazipur. He was convicted of robbery and rape.
A disabled 22-year-old ethnic Baluch, Mansour Dehmordeh, was sentenced to death for participating in the ongoing protests in the nation. Mansour was convicted of “corruption on Earth.” Protests have been ongoing for months, following the death of a woman who had been arrested by the morality police for not covering her hair properly. During Mansour’s sentencing, a judge told him that anyone convicted of protesting against the government will be sentenced to death. Mansour was allegedly tortured into confessing before being brought to trial. Over 500 protesters have been killed by security forces, while 18,000 others have been arrested. Most are still awaiting sentencing, however, at least 100 have been sentenced to death. A few have already had their sentences carried out.
On Wednesday, January 4, 2023, four prisoners were executed in Karaj Central Prison. They were convicted on drug-related charges. Two of those executed were identified as ethnic Baluch minorities named Mohammad Rasul Shah Bakhsh (Noti Zahi) and Akhtar Mohammad. Bakhsh was 44 years of age and had several children.
On Saturday, January 7, 2023, two men were executed by hanging. The two men were identified as 22-year-old Mohammad Mahdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini. They were convicted of participating in the ongoing protests against the government. Specifically, they were convicted of murdering 27-year-old Ruhollah Ajamian on November 3, 2022. They were sentenced to death in December 2022. The execution was carried out after their sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court. Ruhollah was a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
On Sunday, January 8, 2023, Majid Sadaqat was executed in Yasouj prison. Majid was convicted of murder. Iranian law does not differentiate between intentional murder and self-defense. All killings are considered intentional murder and often result in death sentences through qisas, that is, retribution in kind.
Saleh Mirhashemi, Majid Kazemi, and Saeed Yaghoubi have been sentenced to death on the charge of “moharebeh,” that is, waging war against God. They were also found guilty of belonging to a criminal group attempting to disrupt the security of the country. The trio was allegedly part of a group that killed three members of a security force during protests. The three men can appeal their sentences.
Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani, a lawyer who represented one protester who was sentenced to death, has now been charged with a crime in relation to that case. Ali is currently out on bail. He was arrested for alleging that his client, Mohammad Hosseini, was tortured into confessing his part in the murder of a security officer. Hosseini has since had his death sentence revoked, along with two others, due to a “flaw in the investigation.”
United States of America
On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, Robert Fratta was executed in Texas. He was 65 years of age. Robert was executed for hiring someone to murder his 34-year-old wife, Farah. Farah was killed on November 9, 1994, outside of her home in Harris County, Texas. His execution was briefly delayed due to appeals.
On Thursday, January 12, 2023, Scott Eizember was executed in Oklahoma. Scott was executed for murdering 76-year-old AJ Cantrell and 70-year-old Patsy Cantrell in their home in Depew, Oklahoma. Scott had broken into their home while they were away in order to spy on his ex-girlfriend. He killed the couple when they arrived back at the home unexpectedly.
On Thursday, January 12, 2023, Antonio Franklin was scheduled to be executed in Ohio. His execution is rescheduled to February 11, 2026. Forty-four-year-old Antonio is convicted and sentenced to death for murdering his grandparents Ivory and Ophelia Franklin, and his uncle, Anthony Franklin, on April 18, 1997, in Dayton, Ohio. Antonio’s execution was rescheduled due to Ohio’s ongoing problem obtaining execution drugs.
In November 2022, Arizona death row inmate Aaron Gunches requested that he be given an execution date. He has now withdrawn that request. Aaron was convicted and sentenced to death in 2008, for murdering his girlfriend’s ex-husband in 2002. He requested his execution date be scheduled to allow justice to be served and to “give closure to the victim’s family.” In withdrawing his request for an execution date, Aaron cited three recent executions in which technicians struggled to establish IV lines, claiming it amounts to torture. Additionally, Aaron claims he never would have asked to be given an execution date if he knew the newly elected attorney general was going to delay setting new execution dates. An execution date was requested for Aaron in December of 2022, however, he has not yet been given an execution date.
On October 31, 2017, Sayfullo Saipov took a rented pickup truck and drove through a crowd of people on a bike path in Manhattan, New York. Under the Trump administration, federal prosecutors announced plans to seek a death sentence for Saipov, who is from Uzbekistan. During the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden campaigned against capital punishment, promising to work towards abolishing it at a federal level and hoping states would follow suit. Following the election, lawyers for Saipov asked that the death penalty against their client be withdrawn. However, Merrick Garland, appointed by President Biden, refused the request. It will be the first capital punishment trial under the Biden administration.
On January 5, 2023, the Ohio Supreme Court stayed the execution of death row inmate Victoria Drain, formerly known as Joel Drain. Drain was scheduled to be executed on November 24, 2026. The stay was granted over concerns of mental illness, including a disputed diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Joel Drain legally changed his name to Victoria Drain in February 2022. Drain was convicted and sentenced to death in 2020 for murdering 29-year-old Christopher Richardson, a fellow inmate at Warren Correctional Institution near Lebanon, Ohio. At the time, Drain was serving a 31-year sentence for aggravated murder, felonious assault, and theft.
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