Wednesday, June 12, 2024
IDPN 2023

International Death Penalty News 2023, Issue 46: China, Iran, Malaysia, United States of America, Vietnam

International Death Penalty NewsOn Tuesday, November 7, 2023, Zhang Longji was executed by lethal injection. Zhang was a former principal of a primary school in Gansu province. He was convicted of raping five girls and sexually molesting 17 girls. All the girls were between the ages of eight and fourteen. The crimes occurred while he was the principal. The school at which he worked has since discoed and merged with another school.

On Friday, November 10, 2023, Sun Deshun, the former president of China CITIC Bank Corporation Limited was given a suspended death sentence. Sun was convicted of accepting bribes amounting to about $137 million. He has been given a two-year reprieve, although the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan announced Sun will not be commuted or granted parole after the two years. Generally, if no new crime is committed within the time period of a suspended sentence, the convicted will face life in prison. Sometimes, continued good behavior can further reduce a sentence, however, Sun will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. The money he made through the bribes, and the interest, has been turned over to the national treasury.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2023, a man identified only as Akbar, was executed in Tabriz Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. Akbar allegedly killed another person during a group fight in August 2019. All killings in Iran are considered “intentional murder” as Iranian law does not recognize differing degrees. After conviction, the family of the victim chooses between granting forgiveness, demanding diya (blood money), or demanding qisas.

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 40-year-old Khodadad Rahimi and 31-year-old Saber Alikhani were executed in Kashan Prison. Both men were convicted and sentenced to death on separate drug-related charges. State officials and the media have not yet reported their executions.

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, an unnamed man was executed in Kerman Central Prison. He was executed for committing murder by setting a residential building on fire. Seven people died in the fire and three others were injured.  

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, two unnamed men were executed in Bandar Abbas Central Prison. Both men were convicted and executed on separate drug trafficking charges. One man was convicted of trafficking heroin, while the other was accused of trafficking methamphetamine.

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, Farhad Aghayi was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. Farhad murdered his nephew on June 5, 2016. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution. 

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, eight men were executed in Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj. Four of the men, Mostafa Ziafar, Seyed Peyman Mousavi, Bahman Fathollahi, and Mohammad Vaseghi were convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. Two men, Rasoul Teimuri and Vali (surname unknown), were convicted on drug-related charges. The remaining two men have not been identified by name, however, one was convicted on drug-related charges, while the other was convicted of moharebeh (enmity against god) by committing an armed robbery. None of the eight executions have been reported by state officials or the media.

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, Akbar Farokhi was executed in Urmia Central prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. All killings in Iran are considered “intentional murder” as Iranian law does not recognize differing degrees. After conviction, the family of the victim chooses between granting forgiveness, demanding diya (blood money), or demanding qisas. His execution has not yet been announced by state officials or the media. 

On Thursday, November 9, 2023, 62-year-old Hojat Gharebiglu was executed in Zanjan Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas. Before his arrest, he worked on a cattle farm. Hojat alleges he acted in self-defense, however, Iranian law does not recognize differing degrees of murder. All killings are classified as “intentional murders.” After conviction, the family of the victim chooses between granting forgiveness, demanding diya (blood money), or demanding qisas. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution.

On Friday, November 10, 2023, 38-year-old Shahram Ali Abbasi was executed in Gorgan Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.

On Saturday, November 11, 2023, 23-year-old Reza Arbabzehi, 33-year-old Abdolhagh Gomshadzehi, and Meisam Chandani were executed in Zahedan Central Prison. Reza, an Afghan national, was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas for a crime committed about three years ago. Abdolhagh, a Baluch ethnic minority, was also convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas. Meisam, also a Baluch ethnic minority, was convicted of Moharebeh (enmity against god) and sentenced to death.

On Saturday, November 11, 2023, 40-year-old Amin Barakzehi was executed in Saravan Prison. He was convicted of murder about five years ago and sentenced to qisas. Amin was an ethnic Baluch minority, a group that is overrepresented on death row in Iran. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution.

On Sunday, November 12, 2023, Alireza was executed in Isfahan Central Prison. He has spent the last four years on death row. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. His execution has not yet been reported by state officials or the media.

On Sunday, November 12, 2023, 35-year-old Vahid Salemi and 50-year-old Behrouz Dinarbar were executed in Shiraz Central Prison. Both were convicted on separate drug-related charges. State officials and the media have not yet reported either man’s execution.

The top court in Malaysia, the Federal Court, has commuted the death sentences and life sentences of 11 inmates, including two Thai nationals. Seven death row inmates and four others with life sentences were convicted of drug trafficking. Their sentences have been reduced to 30 years in prison each. These 11 inmates are among the first batch of inmates to have their cases reviewed following several legal reforms, including removing mandatory death sentences for drug trafficking and murder.

On Thursday, November 16, 2023, Ohio was scheduled to execute Keith LaMar. Keith’s execution is rescheduled for January 13, 2027. Fifty-four-year-old Keith is convicted of murdering five prisoners, Albert Staiano, Bruce Vitale, William Svette, Darrell Depina, and Dennis Weaver, during a riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio in April 1993. Ohio has rescheduled multiple executions over the past several years due to ongoing problems obtaining execution drugs.

On Thursday, November 16, 2023, Casey McWhorter was executed by the state of Alabama. He was pronounced dead at 6:47 pm local time, inside the execution chamber at the Holeman Correctional Facility near Atmore, Alabama. Casey was 49 years of age. He was convicted of murdering Edward Lee Williams, Sr., on February 18, 1993, in Albertville, Alabama.  

On Thursday, November 16, 2023, David Renteria was executed in Texas. He was pronounced dead at 7:11 pm local time. David is convicted of kidnapping and murdering five-year-old Alexandra Flores on November 18, 2001, in El Paso, Texas. 

On July 8, 2023, Roland Davis died while on death row in Ohio. His cause of death was listed as a medical condition. Roland was 70 years of age. He was arrested in April 2004, after DNA linked him to the July 10, 2000 murder of 86-year-old Elizabeth Sheeler in Newark, Ohio. Davis had worked as a taxi driver and driven Elizabeth home many times. Knowing Elizabeth kept large sums of cash in her bedroom, he broke in, stabbed her to death, and stole the money. At the time of his arrest for Elizabeth’s murder, Davis was in prison in Florida. The year after his arrest, he was sentenced to death. More recently, prosecutors in Florida filed new charges against Davis, this time for the rape and murder of 42-year-old Sharon Gill in 1990. Following Davis’ death, the charges against him have been dropped and the case is considered closed.

Syed Rabbani, originally from Bangladesh, was sentenced to death in 1987 in Texas for the murder of 28-year-old Mohammed Jakir Hasan during a robbery. In 1994, Syed filed an appeal challenging the constitutionality of his death sentence, which has remained pending for nearly 30 years. In September, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his death sentence due to errors at his original trial and evidence of mental illness. Syed is now eligible for parole based on time served. Officials are working to have him eventually transferred to the care of his family in Bangladesh.

A total of 18 people were sentenced to death by the Family and Juvenile Court, under Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court. Four of the people have been identified as 63-year-old South Korean ex-police officer Kim Soon-sik, 30-year-old compatriot Kang Seon-hok, 58-year-old Chinese national Li Tian Guan, and 36-year-old Vietnamese national Le Ho Vu. The other 14 people sentenced to death were not named. All were convicted of storing, trafficking, and trading drugs. Hundreds of pounds of drugs were confiscated by the police. Vu was considered the ringleader of the group. Another individual was also arrested, however, he was under the age of 18 and received a lesser sentence of 15 years in prison.

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