Sunday, March 3, 2024
IDPN 2024

International Death Penalty News 2024, Issue 02: Iran, Japan, Kuwait, North Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, United States of America, Vietnam

International Death Penalty NewsOn Friday, December 22, 2023, 46-year-old Mehdi Keyvanlu and 42-year-old Hashem Zoorabadi were executed at Sabzevar Prison. Mehdi was convicted and sentenced to death on drug-related charges while Hashem was convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. State officials and the media have not yet reported either execution.

On Wednesday, December 27, 2023, four men were executed at Ardabil Central Prison. They have been identified as Yasin Khodakarami, Alireza Nejati, Jebreil Fadayi, and Ali Zaman Khani. Yasin and Alireza were convicted of murder and sentenced to qisas, that is retribution in kind. Jebreil, an ethnic Baluch minority, and Ali were both convicted on separate drug-related charges.

On Tuesday, January 2, 2024, Naghi Zayerfar was executed in Maragheh Prison. He was convicted and executed on drug-related charges. Before his arrest, Naghi worked as a taxi driver. Naghi’s brother was executed about seven months previously, also on drug-related charges.

On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, state media reported the execution of Naser Peydayi, 48-year-old Mohammad Nadiri and Farzad Mohammadi. All three were convicted and drug-related charges.

On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, Amir Ahmadzadeh was executed in Sabzevar 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 Thursday, January 4, 2024, Soheil Jalvaran and Hojat Kalkhoran were executed in Ardabil Central Prison. Both were convicted and executed on separate drug-related charges.

On Thursday, January 4, 2024, 32-year-old Asghar Barzegar was executed in Yazd Central Prison. He was convicted and sentenced to death on drug-related charges after his arrested about three years ago.

On Thursday, January 4, 2024, 29-year-old Saeed (Ali) Moradian was executed in Hamedan Central Prison. He was arrested about two years ago and convicted on drug-related charges.

On Monday, January 8, 2024, Mohammad Hossein Geravand and Kiumars Gholami were executed in Ghezelhesar Prison. Both were convicted and executed on drug-related charges. Neither execution has yet been reported by state officials or the media.

On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, Mohammad Ali Mirzaei Kalvari and Mahmoud Mirzaei were executed in Ghezelhesar Prison, according to Iran Human Rights. Both men were convicted on drug-related charges. Executions on drug-related charges have risen every year in the last three years. State officials and the media have not yet reported the executions.

On Thursday, January 11, 2024, 55-year-old Falit Abedi was executed in Qazvin Central Prison. He was arrested about three years ago and executed on drug-related charges. State officials and the media have not yet reported his election.

Iran Human Rights has reported that on Thursday, January 11, 2024, 35-year-old Meisam Habibi was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison. Seven years ago, Meisam was arrested on murder charges. He was convicted and sentenced to qisas, that is, retribution in kind. State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution. Under Iranian law, all killings are considered “intentional murder,” no matter the intent or circumstances. Mitigating evidence or claims of self-defense are rarely considered. After conviction, the family of the deceased chooses between granting forgiveness, demanding qisas, or demanding diya (blood money).

Last year, Japan carried out no executions and issued only three new death sentences. While no official reason has been given for not carrying out executions, many have speculated. In 2022, the rustic minister was forced to resign after making a joke that the only time a justice minister comes to national attention is when they authorize an execution. This statement made it difficult for his successor to begin authorizing executions. Additionally, changes were made to the Japanese cabinet in 2023 which reprioritized the scheduling of executions. Executions are traditionally carried out in secret. There are 106 people on death row in the nation.

A criminal court has sentenced an unnamed man to death. He is convicted of murdering his wife and dismembering her body. She was pregnant at the time of her death. He killed his wife after she told him she was pregnant. The man alleges that he was separated from his wife at the time of the order.

A defector who escaped to South Korea has given statements that the North Korean government carried out public executions for those who violated quarantine measures during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. This is the first confirmation of executions that has been received. Previously, there were reports of threats to carry out executions, however, no confirmations, until now, of executions being carried out. During the spread of the disease, the North Korean government issued strict rules on masking and disinfecting in order to prevent the spread. Border agents were also instructed to shoot on sight anyone attempting to cross the border in either direction.

The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of the now-deceased former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf was convicted of treason by a special court. He was first charged in December 2013, and convicted six years later in December 2019. On February 5, 2023, Musharraf died in exile in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Supreme Court was ruling on an appeal that was filed by Musharraf in 2019.

According to Human Rights Watch, in 2023, Singapore carried out the highest number of executions in over a decade. Singapore has received criticism for carrying out executions of those convicted of non-violent drug charges.

Sixty-five-year-old Quek Eng Hock is accused of murdering a 43-year-old woman on January 6, 2024. Prosecutors are seeking a death sentence. Hock was neighbors with the victim. In addition to the murder, Hock also injured the woman’s five-year-old son.

On Wednesday, January 10, 2024, Scott Group was scheduled to be executed in Ohio.  His execution has been rescheduled for February 17, 2027. Fifty-nine-year-old Scott is convicted of murdering 56-year-old Robert Lozier on January 18, 1997, in Youngstown, Ohio.

On Thursday, January 11, 2024, Wendell Grissom was scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma. His execution has been stayed and is awaiting a new execution date. Fifty-five-year-old Wendell is convicted of murdering 23-year-old Amber Matthews on November 3, 2005, in Watonga, Oklahoma. 

On Friday, December 1, 2023, Nasih Ra’id a/k/a Odell Corely died while on federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana. His death has been ruled a suicide, however, officials have not released his autopsy or a cause of death. An investigation showed that he planned his death for weeks, even communicating his plans with loved ones. Fellow inmates noted that his physical condition began deteriorating when death row prisoners were temporarily relocated and prevented from accessing recreation facilities. They also allege that Ra’id appeared to suffer a mental break, as he struggled to resume his workouts once access to recreation facilities was resumed.

A lawmaker in Nebraska is suggesting adding nitrogen hypoxia to the execution methods in the state. Nitrogen hypoxia is an execution carried out by forcing an inmate to breathe in nitrogen instead of oxygen, likely by the use of a mask. Three other states, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Alabama have also approved this method. Alabama is scheduled to be the first state to carry out an execution by nitrogen hypoxia later this month. Supports of the method argue it is a more humane method of execution. Nebraska currently has 12 inmates on death row, with the last execution being that of Carey Dean Moore in 2018.

The longest-serving death row inmate in Idaho, 73-year-old Thomas Creech, is seeking to have his sentence reduced to life in prison. Creech has been on death row for nearly 50 years. He is convicted of murdering four men, including, most recently, fellow inmate David Dale Jensen in 1981. Since his death sentence, Creech has had eleven death warrants, all of which have been stayed for various reasons. Creech has filed a petition with the Idaho Parole Board seeking to have his sentence reduced. If approved, the recommendation will go to Idaho Governor Brad Little, who has the final decision.

Prosecutors in Oklahoma have announced they plan to seek the death penalty for Chace Cook, who is accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend Madeline Marine Bills. Madeline was murdered in her bedroom in April of 2023. Cook was arrested one month later. Madeline’s family supports pursuing a death sentence.

Prosecutors in Nevada have announced they plan to seek the death penalty for Spencer McDonald. McDonald is accused of murdering his grandmother Dina Vail; Dina’s boyfriend, Andrew Garden; and maintenance worker Chris Brassard. McDonald has pleaded not guilty to all charges, even though prosecutors have agreed to a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, if McDonald confesses.

A federal judge has ruled that Alabama can carry out the execution of Kenneth Smith later this month using nitrogen hypoxia, a new and untried method of execution. An appeal will likely end up before the Supreme Court of the United States before the execution. Smith’s attorneys argue that he is being used as a “test subject.” Smith is convicted of the murder for hire of a preacher’s wife. Her husband wanted her killed to collect the insurance money.

Last year, Florida expanded the death penalty beyond murder. The state passed a new law permitting the death penalty in cases of child rape. Now lawmakers in other states such as Tennessee and Missouri are seeking to follow Florida’s example. At least one lawmaker in Tennessee wants to permit the use of the death penalty for cases of child rape. Meanwhile, a lawmaker in Missouri is seeking to expand the use of capital punishment to include cases of child rape and sex trafficking.

In 2014, Brian Horn was convicted and sentenced to death for the March 30, 2010 murder of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in Stonewall, Louisiana. Horn lured Justin out of a friend’s house by pretending to be a girl sending a taxi for him. Instead, Horn was driving the taxi. Horn killed Justin after the vehicle ran out of gas. Horn’s first conviction and sentence were overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court. In July, a second jury convicted him, and now DeSoto Parish Judge Amy Burford McCartney has resentenced Horn to death.

Lawmakers in West Virginia are proposing bills to reimplement capital punishment in the state. Capital punishment was outlawed in the state in 1965. Multiple bills have been introduced including one that would permit the death penalty for those convicted of murdering first responders in the line of duty. Another bill proposes the death penalty for fentanyl dealers responsible for causing overdose deaths.

Thirty-year-old Nguyen Liao Hung Tran has been sentenced to death by a court in Ho Chi Min City. He is convicted of transporting and illegal possession of drugs. He was arrested at the post office after signing for two packages that contained drugs. The packages were addressed to women that Tran initially claimed he was married to. After the boxes were opened, he claimed he did not know the woman and was simply trying to steal the packages. Tran claimed he did not know the packages contained drugs.

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