April 1, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 14


Japan:  On Friday, March 25, 2016, 56-year-old Junko Yoshida and 75-year-old Yasutoshi Kamata were executed by hanging.  Junko was a former nurse convicted of carrying out two murders in 1998 and 1999, in Fukuoka Prefecture.  Yasutoshi was executed for the murder of four women and a 9-year-old girl between 1985 and 1994.  Japan has 124 inmates on death row.



Malaysia: On Friday, March 25, 2016, 35-year-old Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu, 34-year-old Ramesh Jayakumar, and 37-year-old Sasivarnam Jayakumar were executed by hanging.  The execution was carried out in secret, with the men’s families being given only a two days notice.  Additionally the men were not told until the day before.  All three men are convicted of the murder of a 25-year-old man in a playground in 2005.  The trio claimed they acted in self-defense.  Amnesty International, a human rights advocate group, has denounced the execution.



Pakistan:  Abdullah Baloch and Sohail Ahmed were executed by hanging on Thursday, March 24, 2016, in a Sahiwal jail.  Both were convicted of terrorism by a military court and sentenced to death in January of this year.


On Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Ghazanfer Ali was executed by hanging in District Jail Sargodha.  Ali was convicted of murdering his sister and her husband in the name of honor in October of 1999.


On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, Ghulam Abbas was executed by hanging for the murder of a man during an attempted robbery in 1997.  Abbas was executed at District Jail Sialkot.  Two other men, Nasir Mahmood and Tahir Iqbal were scheduled to be executed along side Abbas, however their executions were postponed when rival parties were able to reach an agreement.  


Also on Wednesday, March 31, 2016, Mehmood and Rab Nawaz were executed at a jail in Kohat.  Both were convicted of being members of the terrorist organization TTP and taking part in terrorist activities that resulted in the deaths of others.



Saudi Arabia:  On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, Dhafer and Hussein al-Mutliq were executed for the murder of fellow Saudi citizens Axeb and Mahdi al-Moamer.  The two families had had a dispute.  Dhafer and Hussein were executed in Najran, in the southern part of the kingdom.  They were likely executed by beheading.  A total of 81 individuals have been executed so far this year in the kingdom.


United States of America:  On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, John Battaglia was scheduled to be executed in the state of Texas.  His execution was stayed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow time for his new representation to explore the possibility that John is ineligible to be executed due to incompetency.  John is convicted of murdering his two daughters.  Read more about John and his case here.


On Thursday, March 31, 2016, Joshua Bishop was executed at 9:27 pm EDT, by the state of Georgia.  His execution was delayed several hours due to appeals.  He was 41 years of age.  Joshua was executed for the murder of 44-year-old Leverett Lewis Morrison on June 9, 1994, in Baldwin County, Georgia.  Read more about Joshua and his case here.


Bernard L. Hamilton, a death row inmate in California, died of natural causes on Saturday, March 26, 2016, while awaiting his execution.  Bernard was sentenced to death on March 2, 1981, for the burglary, kidnapping, and murder of Eleanore Buchanan in 1979.


The House of Representatives in Mississippi has amended a Senate Bill which would allow the state to carry out executions by firing squad, if lethal injection drugs become unavailable or are deemed too expensive.  The bill would also protect the names and identities of those involved in executions, including the pharmacy providing the lethal injection drugs.  Additionally, the bill would protect the names of family members of the victim and the prisoner.  Attorney General for Mississippi, Jim Hood, had asked lawmakers to approve and alternative method of execution.


Judge Richard Mark Gergel has overturned the death sentence of South Carolina inmate Johnny O’Landis Bennett due to racist remarks made by Donald Myers, the prosecutor in Bennett’s case.  During closing arguments, Myers referred to Bennett as “King Kong” and made other disparaging race-related remarks about Bennett throughout the trial.  Judge Gergel ruled that the state of South Carolina had failed to ensure that Bennett’s constitutional right to a fair trial, free from racial bias, was upheld.  Myers has promised to appeal Judge Gergel’s ruling.  


Daniel Dougherty had been on death row in Pennsylvania after having been convicted of murdering his two children by setting the house on fire in 1985.  Fire evidence that was used to convict Daniel has since been proven to be “junk science,” that is incorrect and unreliable.  New evidence suggests that Daniel has been telling the truth, insisting that he was innocent and had been asleep on the couch when he woke up to a fire in the house.  Police did not arrest Daniel until 14 years after the murder, when his ex-wife alleged that he had confessed to her about setting the fire.  Daniel’s death sentence was later vacated when judges agreed that he did not have adequate representation.  Now, Daniel is getting a new trial.  He is hoping that new science will finally release him from prison.



Yemen: Reports have been circulated that 56-year-old Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, a Catholic priest from India, was executed by crucifixion on Good Friday by supporters of the Islamic State.  Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped earlier in March during an attack on an old people’s home, which killed 15 people.  However, no official word of Father Uzhunnalil’s murder has been announced, nor was it known where he was taken after he was kidnapped.