Saturday, July 20, 2024
IDPN 2024

International Death Penalty News 2024, Issue 13: Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Somalia, Tunisia, United States of America

International Death Penalty NewsThe Taliban Supreme Leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, has announced that the government will begin stoning women to death in public as punishment for adultery.  Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in 2021, they have returned to implementing Islamic Sharia, including the laws’ harsh punishments.  The United Nations has criticized the harsh measures used by the Taliban, insisting they stop such practices.  Akhundzada claims these punishments are necessary to oppose Western influence.

On Friday, March 22, 2024, Xu Yao was sentenced to death by a court.  He is convicted of murdering 39-year-old Lin Qi, a former executing at Yoozoo (Youzu) Games, by poisoning his food in December 2020.  Yao murdered Qi after the two had a dispute over how the business should be run.  The company owned the rights to “The Three-Body Problem,” which is set to become a television show on Netflix.  Qi is listed as an executive producer.  

Prosecutors are appealing to have the sentence of I Gede Krisna Paranata increased.  Paranata was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison and a fine after being convicted on drug-related charges.  However, the law in Indonesia permits both prosecutors and defendants to appeal a sentence.  Upon appeal, the sentence can either be affirmed, abolished, enhanced, or reduced.  Prosecutors are seeking to have Paranata sentenced to death.  Paranata is seeking to have his 20-year sentence reduced on appeal.  

On Monday, March 18, 2024, Yasin Zolfaghari and his unnamed wife were executed at Tabriz Central Prison.  They were both convicted and sentenced to death on drug-related charges.  They were married about a year before their arrest.  At this time, their executions have not been reported by state officials or the media.

On Monday, March 25, 2024, 36-year-old Abbas Aghayi was executed in Tabriz Central Prison.  He was convicted and sentenced to death for drug-related charges, however, he has insisted that the drugs were not his.  State officials and the media have not yet reported his execution.  

On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, two Filipina nationals received a reprieve from their death sentences.  Their sentences were reduced to 30 years in prison.  The two women,44-year-old Aisa Bello Mensong, and 66-year-old Eleonor Cantor Sadullo, were initially convicted and sentenced to death in 2011 for trafficking heroin and morphine in 2008.  This is the first time Filipino nationals have received a reduction in sentence since a newly enacted law that allows the Federal Court to review and substitute death penalty sentences.  The women could be released from prison in three to four years due to good behavior.  

The Federal Court has commuted the death sentence of 45-year-old T Paramasparan.  He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of S Mageswary, his pregnant wife, in 2002.  Paramasparan killed his wife after she confessed she was pregnant with another man’s child.  Now, Paramasparan’s death sentence has been reduced to 35 years in jail, along with 12 strokes of the cane.  His sentence was reduced after the court found that he did not intend to murder his wife when he hit her with a broomstick.  His father-in-law has forgiven Paramasparan for his crime.  Paramasparan could be released within the next 20 months due to good behavior.  

For the last 22 years, 70-year-old Anwar Kenneth has been on death row in Pakistan.  He is convicted of blasphemy.  Now, he has new hope that he may soon be released.  The former government employee, who is not a Muslim, was convicted on blasphemy charges after sending out a letter in which he rejected the prophethood of Muhammad.  Now, the Supreme Court of Pakistan is seeking clarification on whether the rejection of Muhammad’s prophethood by non-Muslims constitutes blasphemy.  Anwar is a Catholic.  His family is hoping that he will be released soon.

On March 1, 2024, a police investigation led to the acquittal of Umar Saleem and Umair Saleem.  The Saleem brothers were both convicted of blasphemy, which can result in a death sentence, although the sentence is rarely carried out.  Umar and Umair are both Christians.  The police investigation found that the brothers had been framed by three other Christians.  Those three have now been arrested and charged with blasphemy.  Despite the brothers being released from prison, they cannot return home as it is not safe for them.  Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are highly controversial, as they are frequently abused and used to settle personal disputes.  Accusations are not always fully investigated and can quickly lead to riots, often forcing Christians to flee the area and their homes.

On Wednesday, May 27, 2024, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by 36 death row inmates.  The inmates were challenging two new legal provisions that are intended to prevent them from using the courts to delay execution.  The law was passed on November 29, 2022, but has not yet taken effect.  Since the law has not yet taken effect, the initial challenge by the inmates was dismissed, however, the inmates appealed the ruling up to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling.  

On March 2, 2024, a military court in northern Somalia sentenced six Moroccan nationals to death by firing squad.  The men were convicted of belonging to the Islamic State terrorist group (Daesh).  The Moroccan government is seeking to have their sentences reduced and the six nationals returned.  They allege that the men did not know they were being recruited by a terrorist group and were simply attempting to find work.  

Four individuals have been sentenced to death for the murder of Chokri Belaid in 2013.  Two others have been sentenced to life in prison.  Belaid, a prominent political leader who opposed the ruling party, was found shot to death in his car in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.  The convicted men, who have not been named, aligned themselves with the ideology of the Islamic State terrorist group.  

Thirty-three-year-old Chad Doerman could be sentenced to death in Ohio, even after a judge ruled his confession could not be used in court.  Chad is accused of murdering his three young sons and shooting their mother.  He had previously admitted to lining the boys up and shooting them in the heads, however, one of the children attempted to flee and was shot in the back before Chad caught him and ensured that he died.  Chad was arrested at the scene.  His confession was ruled inadmissible due to the failure of police to properly read Chad his Miranda rights and for continuing to question Chad after he requested a lawyer.

Federal lawmakers are seeking to have 52-year-old Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, extradited from the United Kingdom on charges of espionage.  However, a British court recently ruled that Assange cannot be extradited unless the death penalty is removed as a possible sentence.  For the last five years, Assange, an Australian national, has been in prison in London.  Supporters of Assange argue he is protected by the First Amendment and is being unconstitutionally targeted due to exposing wrongdoings from the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. United States prosecutors argue that Assange went beyond the protection of the First Amendment by soliciting, stealing, and indiscriminately publishing classified government documents which endangered the lives of many people.

On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals resentenced 64-year-old Randall Mays to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.  Mays was sentenced to death in 2008, after being convicted of murdering 61-year-old Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Price Ogburn and 63-year-old Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Paul Steven Habelt on May 17, 2007, in Payne Springs, Texas.  Since his arrest, his lawyers have been arguing that Mays is incompetent and, therefore, ineligible to be executed.  After multiple reviews of his competency, it was determined that Mays did not qualify to be executed, resulting in a reduction of his sentence.

In October 2023, former Texas death row inmate Linda Burnett died at a hospital in Galveston, Texas.  She was 75 years of age.  Her cause of death was not reported.  Burnett was sentenced to death in 1979, along with her co-defendant Joe Dugas, after being convicted of killing a three-year-old boy, his parents, and his grandparents near Winnie, Texas.  Burnett later had her sentence reduced to life in prison.  Dugas died in 1983 while attempting to escape from police custody while he was being transferred to a court hearing.

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