January 31, 2014

IDPN 2014  Issue 5


Iran: Last week, one woman and two men were executed.  The three individuals were not identified by name.  All were convicted and executed for trafficking drugs.


On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, one man, identified by initials only, was executed by hanging in public in the city of Qazin, which is west of Tehran.  He was convicted of smuggling drugs.  Official reports indicate that at least 61 people have been executed so far this year.


Two Ahwazi Arab activists, Hadi Rashedi and Hashem Shabani were executed.  Ahwazi Arabs are considered political enemies, as they often speak out against the government.



Japan: Beginning February 15, 2014, a movie theater in Tokyo will hold "Death Penalty Movie Week."  Over the course of a week, eight films will be shown about the death penalty in Japan and abroad, including a movie about a man seeking a retrial over the Nabari Case, a 1961 mass poisoning case.  Additionally, a film about the first female death row inmate in the United States, who was convicted of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, will be shown.  In addition to the movies, talk sessions with guest speakers, including lawyers and film directors, will occur.  This is the third time such an event has been held.



Kazakhstan: An amendment to the criminal code has been suggested which would remove capital punishment from the country's Criminal Code.  Not all support the idea including the Vice General Prosecutor and representatives of the People's Communist Party.




Malaysia:In 2012, two Indonesian brothers, Frans and Dharry Hiu, who were domestic workers in Malaysia, were sentenced to death for killing an intruder in self-defense.  The court said the killing was not in self defense and sentenced the two to be executed.  The case outraged Indonesia, who saw it as a failure of the Malaysian justice system.  Additionally, many Malaysians also thought the case was a failure of justice.  After numerous legal battles, the brothers were released from prison on Tuesday, January, 28, 2013.



Mexico: Although Mexican authorities criticized the execution of Mexican national Edgar Tamayo by the United States, not all Mexican citizens are happy that their country has removed the death penalty.  Surveys have shown that support for the death penalty has been increasing, with the latest polls showing that between 70 and 80 percent support the death penalty for crimes such as kidnapping and murder.  Opponents to the death penalty dispute those statics, claiming that if support was that high "someone would be trying to take advantage of it politically."  The alleged rising support comes as Mexico has had several gruesome kidnappings and mass murders in recent years by drug cartels as well as criminals.  Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2005, although it has been over 50 years since the country held its last execution.



North Korea: In addition to the execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has also had the majority of his uncle's family executed including Jang's sister and her husband (Ambassador to Cuba), and Jang's nephew (Ambassador to Malaysia) and his two sons.  Jang's two brothers were also executed along with their sons, daughters, and grandchildren.  The few family members who were spared execution were sent to remote villages, along with their maiden families.



Pakistan: An elderly, mentally-ill British man is on death row in Pakistan after being convicted of blasphemy.  Seventy-one-year-old Mohammad Asghar is diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia.  In addition to his mental illness, Mohammad also has several physical ailments which require medication that he is unable to obtain while in prison.  A plea has been made to the British government for their assistance.



Papua New Guinea:There are currently 13 people on death row in Papua New Guinea.  The Justice Minister recently announced that their executions will take place this year.  Last year, Papua New Guinea reinstated the death penalty and sent members of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission on a tour of countries that carry out the death penalty in order to determine which method would be best.  There are currently five methods of execution legal in Papua New Guinea: lethal injection, electrocution, firing squad, deprivation of oxygen, and hanging.  The decision as to which method the country will use had not yet been decided.



Saudi Arabia: An Indian worker, Mohammad Latif, was convicted of murdering his Saudi sponsor, Dhafer Bin Mohammad Al Dosari was executed by beheading on Thursday, January 30, 2013.  Dhafer was killed with a sharp object and then dumped into a well.  This is the third execution in Saudi Arabia this year.



United States of America:Herbert Smulls was executed by the state of Missouri on January 29, 2014, following several appeals and temporary stays of execution.  Herbert was executed for murdering 51-year-old Stephen Honickman during a robbery at Stephen's store.  Read the full story here.


Following the controversial Ohio execution of Dennis McGuire, allegations were made that Dennis' attorney asked him to put on a big show to help bring an end to death penalty.  Following an investigation, the claims were ultimately rejected due to lack of evidence.  There were at least three reports by prison staff members that Dennis was "coached" by his attorney.  Dennis' attorney claims that he went over the whole execution procedure with Denis, but denies "coaching" him.


Gregory Dickens, a death row inmate in Arizona, has allegedly committed suicide. Gregory was 48 years of age.  Gregory was convicted and sentenced to death his part in a double murder near Yuma, Arizona in 1991.


Prosecutors of the theater shooter in Aurora, Colorado are pursuing the death penalty for the attack that killed 12. Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour recently ruled that the defense would not be allowed to present evidence at the trial about the history of the death penalty or how such a sentence may impact the family of the defendant.  The case is currently on hold until a second court-ordered psychiatric evaluation is conducted, as the first evaluation was conducted by an allegedly biased doctor.


Washington state will be introducing a new witness protocol, which will allow execution witnesses to view the entire execution process, including the insertion of intravenous catheters and video surveillance of the inmate entering the execution chamber and being strapped down.


Hawaii is scheduled to have its first death penalty trial.  Naeem Williams, an Army specialist who was station in Hawaii, is charged with murdering his 5-year-old daughter, Talia, in July of 2005. Delilha Williams, Naeem's wife, was also charged.  She pled guilty to first degree murder and has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.  She is expected to testify against Naeem who allegedly whip Talia with his belt and would duct-tape Talia to a bed post, cover her eyes and mouth, and whip her for over an hour.  There were blood splatters on Talia's bedroom wall from her beatings.  She also did not have a mattress, blankets or any furniture in her bedroom.


The Justice Department has announced that it will seek the death penalty for the surviving bomber of the Boston Marathon.  However, that decision could be rescinded if a plea deal is reached before the case goes to trial.