July 18, 2014

IDPN 2014  Issue 29



China: Wu Ying, a former hairdresser who built her business from scratch and became one of the nation’s richest women, has had her death sentence commuted to life in prison.  Thirty-three-year-old Wu was convicted of fraud in 2009.


Two brothers, Liu Han and Liu Wei have both been sentenced to death after they were convicted of organizing, leading, and participating in a mafia-style gang which resulted in a murder in May.  Punishment for the other 34 defendants included three additional death sentences, five death sentences with a two year reprieve, four life sentences, and 22 varying prison terms.  The Liu brothers plan to appeal their sentences.  The organization all defendants were a part of is accused of illegally monopolizing local gaming business and seriously harming local economics and social order, in addition to tyrannizing local people.



Egypt: An Egyptian court has sentenced an unidentified 19-year-old male to death after he was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering a young girl.  The girl was kidnapped on her way to Quran classes, and taken to an abandoned house, where she was found days later, with wounds to her scalp and evidence of sexual assault.



India:Beginning August 16, 2014, all death sentence related appeals will be heard by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court.  Currently, appeals are only heard by a two-judge bench.


On Monday, July 14, 2014, the Supreme Court of India temporarily stayed the execution of Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh, both of whom were convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012.  Two other men who were charged and convicted of the same crime received stays earlier this year.  All stays are temporary to allow them time to complete their appeals.  A fifth person, a juvenile received a three year prison sentence, while a sixth person hanged himself in his prison cell.



Iraq: Human Rights Watch, a human rights group based in the New York City, New York, United States, alleges that Iraqi security forces and Shia militia members have executed at 255 prisoners in June of 2014.  They also allege that at least eight of the 255 were boys under the age of 18, which is a violation of international law.



Malawi: Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary and Solicitor General Joyce Banda informed the United Nation Human Rights Council that the nation does not plan to abolish the death penalty.  According to Banda, there are 29 people on death at Zomba Central Prison, however the nation has not carried out an execution since 1992, due in part to former president Bakili Muluzi, who during his 10-year rule (1994-2004) as the first democratically elected leader, vowed to “never sign a death sentence” during his rule.



Pakistan: Zulfiqar Ali has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.  He also was given a fine of Rs 1,000,000.  Ali was convicted due to a message he wrote on a wall in the city.  Ali’s lawyer claims that Ali is insane and lives in the psychiatric ward of the jail.  A judge ruled that Ali was competent enough to stand trial.  Although a high number of people are imprisoned due to the law, Pakistan has not yet executed anyone under the law, even though execution is considered and acceptable form of punishment.  Human rights groups are concerned that blasphemy laws are used to settle personal disputes.



Russia: The number of people who support the death penalty in Russia has decreased over the past several years.  According to a recent survey, 52 percent of Russians still support the death penalty, compared to 61 percent in 2012, and 73 percent in 2002.  An official moratorium on executions began in August of 1996 and was scheduled to end in January of 2010, but the Russian Constitution Court expanded the moratorium until the State Duma ratifies the relevant protocol of the European convention on human rights.  The Russian Constitutional Court has also forbid any court to return a death penalty verdict.



Singapore: On Friday, July 18, 2014, 36-year-old Tang Hai Lian and 48-year-old Foong Chee Peng were executed by hanging.  Both nationals were executed for trafficking drugs.  Their executions ends the moratorium that had been in effect since 2011.  Both men also refused to ask that their sentences be reviewed for a possible sentence reduction.  Under a new law passed in November of 2012, judges now have the discretion to impose life imprisonment in certain cases.  Since the law was passed nine individuals have had their death sentences reduced.



Somalia: Two men, Hassan Salman and Shafici Abdi, were executed by firing squad on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.  The men, alleged members of the Al shabaab militia, were both convicted of murdering Nafiso Ahmed in April of this year.  The men confessed to killing Nafiso because she worked for an non-governmental orgainzation.



United States of America: Shorty after 7 pm CDT, on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, John C. Middleton was executed by the state of Missouri.  He was 54 years of age.  Read the full story here.


The family of Dennis McGuire, a former Ohio inmate whose controversial execution occurred earlier this year in January, has filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that Dennis endured needless pain and suffering during his 26-minute execution.  Reportedly during the execution, Dennis gasped and snorted.  The state is asking that the lawsuit be dismissed, as it was improperly filed and it failed to specifically state what acts the execution team committed that violated Dennis’ constitutional rights.  Ohio conducted an investigation following Dennis’ execution and concluded that Dennis did not suffer during his execution.  Ohio did change its execution policy to increase the dosages of drugs for future executions.


US District Judge Cormac Carney has ruled California’s death penalty unconstitutional due to the extreme delays in carrying out executions and the arbitrariness with which executions are carried out.  Judge Carney also vacated the sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was appealing his sentence of death.  Read more here.


US District Judge Steven Emmert has ruled that recent DNA tests, had they been present at his original trial, would not have prevented Texas inmate Henry “Hank” Skinner from receiving the death penalty.  Hank has always insisted that he was blacked out from alcohol and codeine and incapable of committing the crime.