February 19, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 08


Bangladesh: A man, Abul Kalam, has been sentenced to death for the murder of his two younger brothers, Abu Sufian and Abu Morshed, after a dispute over ancestral property.



Belarus:  A thirty-two-year-old man, whose name has not bee released, has been sentenced to death, just one day after the European Union announced it would be lifting sanctions agains the ex-Soviet country due to their improved human rights record.  It is the second death sentence this year.



Iran:  Twenty-three-year-old Nikan Siyanor Khosravi and 21-year-old Khosravi Arash Ilkhani, were both arrested in their hometown of Tehran in November of 2015.  Both are musicians in a heavy metal band.  Both men have now been charged with blasphemy, advertising against the system, forming and operation an underground record label that promotes the satanic metal/rock style of music, writing religion, atheistic, political, and anarchist lyrics, and interviewing with radio station in other nations.  If convicted, the men could face execution.  Rock music has been forbidden in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.



Saudi Arabia:  On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, Daifallah al-Omrani was executed by beheading in Tubuk in the northern part of the region.  He was executed on drug related charges.  Also executed on Wednesday, were Yemeni nationals Ahmed Mubarak and Abdul Salam al-Jamali, who were beheaded in Jizan in southwestern Saudi Arabia.  They were both convicted of attempting to smuggle hashish into the kingdom.



Syria:  Members of the Islamic State have murdered a man, 48-year-old Saleh al-Rahim, in Shaddadi after accusing him of “insulting the Caliphate.”  He was killed by public beheading.  Saleh had allegedly refused to pay taxes to the taxation department, which is considered an act of insult to the Islamic State and to the Caliphate.  Saleh was arrested trying to escape Islamic State territory. 


Two unnamed individuals have been executed in the town of al-Hrak, a rebel controlled town.  Both men were executed by being shot in the back.  They had killed a lady after stealing her gold and jewelry.



United Arab Emirates:  Four nationals have been sentenced to death after being convicted of joining the Islamic State terrorist group.  The four were tried in absentia and were part of a group of 11 defendants.  They were also convicted of promoting the ideas of the Islamic State online, helping to finance the group, and insulting leaders of the United Arab Emirates.  Three of the 11 were acquitted due to lack of evidence.



United States of America:  On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, Gustavo Garcia was executed by the state of Texas.  He was 43 years of age.  Gustavo was executed for the  December 9, 2000, murder of 43-year-old Craig Turski in Plano, Texas.  For more information of Gustavo, click here.


On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, Travis Hittson was executed by the state of Georgia.  He was 44 years of age.  Travis was executed for the April 5, 1992, murder of 20-year-old Conway Utterbeck in Warner Robbins, Georgia.  Travis and Conway both served together in the US Navy.  Click here to read more about Travis and his case.


A bill in Colorado that would have made it easier for juries to give the death penalty has failed in a Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill would have removed the requirement of an unanimous jury to sentence an inmate to death.  The bill was defeated 3-2.  


Execution drugs in Mississippi have recently expired, leading Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to propose three alternative execution methods: the electric chair, a firing squad, or nitrogen hypoxia.  Execution by nitrogen hypoxia has never been previously tested, although Oklahoma has also recently adopted it as an acceptable execution method.  It is also advocated as humane and peaceful by groups who support the right for terminally ill individuals to end their lives.


The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has recently lifted the ban on executions in Mississippi.  Inmates were attempting to argue that the use of midazolam is unconstitutional, a question the Supreme Court of the United States settled last year in a case against Oklahoma.  The Supreme Court ruled that the use of midazolam is constitutional.  An attorney for Mississippi inmates plans to appeal the decision of the 5th Circuit Court, arguing that Mississippi falls short of the safeguards needed to use midazolam.  The expected delay and continued appeals on this matter is, partially, what prompted Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to request alternative methods of execution.


A lawmaker in Utah wants the state to join the 19 other states, and the District of Columbia, in abolishing the death penalty.  He cites the infrequent uses, the delays, and the cost associated with the death penalty as reasons for abolishing.  There are currently nine inmates on Utah’s death row, all with years of appeals remaining.


The Utah House of Representatives has passed a bill, by a vote of 44-28, that would allow human traffickers to be sentenced to death if a child dies while being trafficked.  The bill would classify such an incident as aggravated murder, making it eligible for the individual to receive the death penalty.  


Thirty-six-year-old Harold Blake was sentenced to death in Florida in 2005, for his part in the murder of 37-year-old Maheshkumar Patel during a robbery of a store.  Harold was ordered to receive a new sentencing hearing in 2012, after Circuit Judge Roger Alcott ruled that Harold’s lawyer did not provide suitable mitigation evidence during sentencing.  Prosecutors have now chose to not seek the death penalty, meaning Harold will be sentenced to life in prison.


The Florida House of Representatives have passed a bill that would once again allow defendants to be sentenced to death.  Last month the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Florida’s method of sentencing individuals to death was unconstitutional, as it allowed judges to ultimately decide a defendants punishment, and could go against a jury’s recommendation.  Under the bill passed by the House, a defendant convicted of murder can be sentenced to death by a majority vote of 10 out of 12 jurors.  A judge can no longer impose a sentence of death of the jury recommends life.  This bill is likely to pass the Florida Senate and then be signed by the governor.  Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, judges across the state have claimed they did not have the authority to impose death sentences.  Further, executions in the state are on hold until it is determined if the decision of the Supreme Court is retroactive for all 389 inmates on Florida’s death row.