Thursday, May 23, 2024
IDPN 2023

International Death Penalty News 2023, Issue 48: China, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, United States of America, Yemen

International Death Penalty NewsOn Friday, November 24, 2023, two unnamed Filipino nationals were executed. They were arrested in 2013 and convicted of trafficking drugs. China is thought to execute the largest number of individuals each year, however, few executions are officially reported. China did not announce these two executions until after their families had been notified. The names were not released due to the families’ request for privacy.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a man who threw bricks off a high-rise building onto the street below, killing one woman. The 28-year-old woman was killed on June 22, 2023, in Changchun in the northeastern province of Jilin. Twenty-three-year-old Zhou, who lived in the building, turned himself in to the police that day. Zhou admitted to having a grudge against society and attempting to kill indiscriminately in the hopes that he would be arrested and executed.

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, 32-year-old Kamran Rezaei was executed in Shiraz Central Prison. Kamran was a protestor who was arrested in November 2019. He was convicted of murdering an IRGC officer and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. Allegedly, Kamran confessed to the murder, however, his supporters say he was coerced into confessing after being held and tortured for seven months. Kamran has since insisted upon his innocence.

The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights has reported that in the month of November, at least 122 executions were carried out. About half of those executed were convicted on drug-related charges. Additionally, two of the executed were women, two were considered juvenile offenders, and 11 were deemed political and/or religious prisoners. These numbers are an increase from the previous month, October when 78 people were executed.

On Sunday, December 3, 2023, four men were executed in Birjand Central Prison. Three of the men have been identified as 44-year-old Mohammad Naeimifar, 31-year-old Maziar Narouyi, and 40-year-old Ahmad Shahuzehi. All three were Baluch ethnic minorities. The name of the fourth man was not given. All were convicted on drug-related charges. The executions were carried out without warning, preventing the families from having a final visit. State officials and the media have not yet reported their executions.

On Sunday, December 3, 2023, 40-year-old Ali Majidi was executed in Qazvin Central Prison. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. The father of one committed the murder over a financial dispute. All killings in Iran are classified as “intentional murder.” Iranian law does not recognize differing degrees of murder or consider intent and circumstance. After conviction, the family of the deceased chooses between granting forgiveness, demanding diya (blood money), or seeking qisas. Ali’s execution has not been reported by state officials or the media.

On Monday, December 4, 2023, 35-year-old Baluch ethnic minority, Fereydoun Nasirinejad, was executed in Jiroft Prison. He was convicted on drug-related charges. He was the father of four children and was arrested about four years ago. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution.

Prosecutors have announced they are seeking the death penalty against 45-year-old Shinji Aoba, who is accused of starting the 2019 fire at the Kyoto Animation studio that resulted iii the deaths of 36 people. Shinji was burned on more than 90 percent of his body and required 12 surgeries to recover. The police waited to arrest him until he was recovered. In September 2023, he admitted in court to starting the fire. Lawyers for Shinji allege that he is mentally ill and will be pleading not guilty due to a psychological disorder that prevents him from distinguishing between right and wrong.

Nine individuals have had their death sentences commuted to 30 years in prison under the Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023. The jail terms are considered to have begun from the dates of their arrest. One of those who had their sentence commuted was 76-year-old Jun Lam who was arrested on December 3, 2006, for trafficking drugs. The other eight individuals have been identified as 63-year-old Emmanuel Yaw Tieku of Ghana; 52-year-old Nobies Weah Ezike of Liberia; 48-year-old Zaiham Mislan; 62-year-old Mohamad Che Tam; 53-year-old Faiz Khairudin; 56-year-old Siew Yoke Keong; 68-year-old Wong Hong; and 70-year-old Phung Geok Hoay.

The execution warrant for Elwood Jones in Ohio was vacated before his scheduled execution on Wednesday, December 6, 2023. Seventy-one-year-old Elwood was convicted of murdering 67-year-old Rhoda Nathan in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Blue Ash, Ohio. Elwood has always maintained his innocence of the crime that sent him to death row. In 2022, Elwood was granted a new trial and has since been released from prison on an unsecured bond, with an electronic monitoring device. His new trial is currently scheduled to occur in 2024.

On Thursday, December 7, 2023, Oklahoma was planning to execute Kevin Underwood. His execution is stayed, pending a new execution date. This is one of several executions that are to be rescheduled to allow more time between executions. Kevin is convicted of raping and murdering 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin in Purcell, Oklahoma on April 12, 2006.

Fatema Saleh Mohammed Al-Arwali, a women’s rights activist has been arrested and sentenced to death in Yemen. She was convicted of spying. Fetama was kidnapped by Houthi militia members while traveling between cities. She received a trial but was prevented from having legal representation. Yemeni officials have denounced her death sentence and are urging her release.

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