February 12, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 07


Afghanistan:  According to officials, the Taliban have murdered a women accused of adultery in a remote village controlled by the group.  The women, Zahra, was executed on Friday, February 5, 2016, and was of unknown age.  There are conflicting reports over Zahra’s death, with some indicating that her husband killed her.



Iran: On Thursday, February 4, 2016, two Baluchi prisoners, Khaled Kordi and Moselm Arabian, were executed by hanging in Yazd Central Prisone.  Both were convicted on drug related charges and both were under the age of 18 at the time of their arrest.  Allegedly, the executions were carried out without informing family members.  The execution of minors violates the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child, of which Iran is a signatory.



Iraq:  Abdulla Azzam Al-Qahtani, a Saudi national, has been executed by hanging at Al-Nazzeriya prison in southern Baghdad.  Abdulla was arrest in 2009, on terrorism charges.



North Korea:  General Ri Yong-gil, chief to the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army was allegedly executed earlier this year for corruption and pursuing personal gains.  There has been no official announcement by the North Korean government regarding Yong-gil’s execution, however, he has not been seen since a meeting earlier this year in which he disagreed with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.



Pakistan:  On Thursday, February 4, 2016, two prisoners, Bilal Ahmed, alias Abu Abdullah, and Muhammad Jora, alias Mittho, were executed by hanging in the nation.  Bilal was executed at Kohat Central Jail for killing another man in his village.  Muhammad was also convicted of killing a man, Nazir, in 1996.


On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, Haider Shehzad was executed by hanging at the New Central Jail Bahawalpur.  He was executed for the murder of Muhammad Amin, after the two had a dispute.


On Wednesday, February 10, 2016, Altaf Ahmed was executed by hanging, after spending 21 years in prison.  The execution was carried out at the Multan Central Jail.  Altaf was executed for murdering his cousin and his cousin’s wife during a 1995 domestic spat.


Palestine:  Militant group Hamas has executed one of its own fighters for allegedly spying for Israel.  Mahmoud Eshtawi, the man executed, was reportedly a senior official in Hamas.  This is reportedly the first time Hamas has executed one of its own members for treason.



Saudi Arabia:  On Monday, February 8, 2016, an Egyptian man, Ibrahim Mohammed Salman, was executed by beheading in Tabuk, in the northern part of the nation.  He was convicted of attempting to smuggle opium in his vehicle.


On Thursday, February 11, 2016, Wissam al-Mahssanawi was executed for the murder of Emirati national Mohammed al-Amiri.  Wissam also stole Mohammed’s car.  Wissam was an Iraqi national.



Sri Lanka: President Maithripala Sirisena has, after careful consideration, commuted the death sentence of 34 inmates to life in prison.  The 34 inmates were recommended by a committee appointed to look into death sentences by the former president.  Another 60 death row inmates are also under consideration and their reports will be handed over to the president for consideration once they are completed.



Tanzania:  A man, John Mchanga, was stoned to death after he lost $300 gambling and went on a rampage that resulted in the death of two casino employees, manager winfred Mbuvi, and an unnamed security official.  A third employee was also injured in the attack.  A mob chased John as he left the casino, beating and stoning him to death.  By the time police officers arrived, John had died.



United States of America: Michale Lambrix was scheduled to be executed by Florida on Thursday, February 11, 2016, at the Florida State Prison.  His execution has been stayed following a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States which ruled that Florida is violating the right to trial by jury.  As Florida legislatures scramble to rewrite laws on how sentencing hearing will be carried out, dozens of death row inmates are challenging their death sentences, although it is not yet clear if the Supreme Court’s ruling is retroactive or how it will be applied and fixed.  Florida is not likely to carry out any executions until this matter is resolved.


Robert Douglas Smith was sentenced to death in 1982, in Arizona for the rape and murder of Sandy Owen.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has commuted his sentence to life in prison.  The Court determined that Robert lacked the mental capacity to be executed, due to his low IQ score.  Robert had dropped out of school in the 8th grade.  He was 16 at the time and had been held back several times, eventually being sent to a school for children with difficulties learning.  The Court voted 2-1 to remove his death sentence.  The dissenting justice pointed to evidence of Robert living independently and supporting himself for 15 years prior to his conviction, and to recent tests which demonstrate that Robert not currently intellectually disabled.


In a recent Democratic debate, presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders expressed their views on capital punishment.  Hillary stood by her previous comments that she “reluctantly” endorses capital punishment but only for “particularly heinous crimes” such as “Timothy McVeigh.”  She elaborated, however, that she disagrees with many of the states currently implementing capital punishment and would “breathe a sigh of relief” if capital punishment was banned by the Supreme Court.  Bernie stated that he does not “believe that government itself should be…killing” in a world full of so much violence and death.  Bernie also commented that he believes the death penalty is too error prone to be trusted.


The former District Attorney for Burleson County, Texas, Charles Sebesta, Jr., has had his disbarment upheld by the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals.  Charles was disbarred for “professional misconduct” on the case of Anthony Graves, which resulted in Anthony being sentenced to death.  Charles made several mistakes during the case, including failing to correct the testimony of Anthony’s co-defendant, Robert Carter, who claimed sole responsibility for the murder of a Somerville family in 1992.


On March 1, 1847, the state of Michigan became the first English-speaking territory in the world of officially abolish the death penalty.  The state then constitutionally banned capital punishment in 1963.  Now, some lawmakers want to change that.  A bill has been introduced in the state Senate, which would permit the death penalty for first degree murder cases in which a peace or corrections officer is kill in the line of duty.  Based on similar past attempts, the measure is not likely to succeed.


An attempt to end the death penalty in South Dakota has failed in the state legislator.  The bill failed to advance to the Senate floor, after a 7-2 vote against the measure by the Senate State Affairs committee.  The committee heard testimony by family member of victims both opposing and supporting the measure.


The Virginia House of Delegates approved, by a vote of 62-33, legislation which would allow inmates to be executed by the electric chair if the state is unable to obtain lethal injection drugs.  The bill will now go the Senate.  This measure comes as the state has announced it is unable to obtain the necessary drugs for an execution planned for March 16, 2016.  It is unlikely that this new bill, if passed before March 16, would affect the already scheduled execution.


The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Mississippi’s lethal injection protocol is legal and does not violate the rights of the inmates.  Death row inmates were arguing that Mississippi’s lethal injection protocol violates the inmates rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.  They argue that the use of midazolam violated this right, as midazolam is not as fast acting as other drugs, which that state has struggled to obtain.  The Court has also ruled that this is a state issue and should be handled within the state courts.