November 21, 2014

IDPN 2014  Issue 47


Algeria: In 1993, in the midst of a civil war, the nation suspended application of the death penalty.  More recently, officials have considered reinstating the death penalty, especially with an increase of crimes against children.  Justice Minister Tayeb Louh has stated that before the death penalty could be reinstated, an open and objective debate must take place within the country.



Iran: On Saturday, November 15, 2014, three men were publicly executed by hanging in Bandar Abbas in southern Iran.  The men were not identified by name and were charged with kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery.


On Thursday, November 20, 2014, 22-year-old Vahid Shah Bakhsh and 23-year-old Mahmoud Shah Bakhsh were executed by hanging.  Bother were charged with “Moharabeh” (enmity against God) and acting against national security.  Both men were tortured after their arrest in April of 2012.  At least one of the men confessed after being tortured.



Pakistan: On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, the father, Muhammad Azeem, the brother, Muhammad Zahid, the former husband, Mazhar Iqbal, and the cousin Jumah Khan, of Farzana Parveen were sentenced to death for stoning Farzana to death.  Twenty-five-year-old Farzan was pregnant when she was stoned to death with bricks by her family in an honor killing.  Allegedly, Iqbal had kidnapped Farzana and persuaded her to marry him, even though she was allegedly married to her cousin at the time.  Iqbal had also been convicted of killing his first wife.



Saudi Arabia: Talal Ali Qassem, a Syrian, was executed by beheading on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.  Talal was executed for smuggling methamphetamine into the country.  He also confessed to the crime, although several international rights groups argue that confessions are often obtained through the use of torture and cannot be considered reliable.


Salih bin Yateem bin Salih al-Qarni was also executed on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.  Salih was convicted of shooting a soldier and police offer and then attempting to escape by wearing women’s clothing.  At the time of the shooting, he was in custody and being transported for unrelated charges.



Sri Lanka: Five fisherman from India, Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath, and J Langlet, were sentenced to death for drug trafficking after being apprehended in 2011.  The men have since been released from Sri Lanka and returned to India.



United States of America: On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, Leon Taylor was executed by the state of Missouri, shortly after midnight.  He was executed for the murder of Robert Newton, a gas station attendant.  Leon also attempted to kill Robert’s 8-year-old daughter, but the gun jammed.  Read his full story here.


For the state of Louisiana, no executions will occur until late June, at the earliest.  The state is currently involved in a legal battle over the constitutionality of its lethal injection protocol.  The current protocol involves using a drug that was also used in executions in Ohio and Oklahoma.  Neither execution in those states went smoothly.  Christopher Sepulvado, an inmate on death row in Louisiana, has raised the concern that the injection will cause him undue pain and suffering.  Additionally, Louisiana is having difficulty obtaining drugs for executions, as many companies refuse to sell the drugs for use in executions.


Lawmakers in Utah are considering returning to firing squads as a method for execution.  This is, in large part, being considered due to the problems of obtaining lethal injection drugs.  Beginning in 2003, new death row inmates were no longer allowed to consider execution by firing squad, although those previous convicted retained it as an option.  The last execution by firing squad was Ronnie Lee Gardner, and occurred in 2010.


On August 13, 1975, 19-year-old Ricky Jackson was convicted of murdering 59-year-old money-order collector Harold Franks in Cleveland, Ohio, along with two brothers, Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman.  They were convicted based on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy, Eddy Vernon.  Ricky was first sentenced to death, and spent several years on death row, before being removed from death row due to legal errors in the case.  On Friday, November 21, 2014, at the age of 59, Ricky walked out of prison a free man.  Eddy has since come forward and said that he never saw the crime and was on the school bus at the time of the murder.  Eddy also said that police fed him information about the crime and threatened to arrest his parents if he changed his story or told anyone he did not witness the crime.  Ricky is the longest serving inmate to have his conviction overturned.