June 3, 2016

IDPN 2016  Issue 23


Indonesia:  Islamic leaders in the nation are calling upon the government to not carry out any executions during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins July 6, 2016.  The leaders clearly state that they are not opposed to executions.  They encourage that executions be carried out as soon as possible, either before Ramadan begins, or soon after the end of the holiday.



Iran:  On Thursday, May 26, 2016, Hamid B was publicly executed by hanging in Shiraz in southern Iran.  Hamid was sentenced to death for kidnapping and rape. 


On Sunday, May 29, 2016, Zohrabi was executed by public hanging in Kovar.  His crime was not reported.


On Monday, May 30, 2016, an unnamed 40-year-old prisoner was executed by hanging in Noor.  His crime was not reported.



Egypt:  On Sunday, May 29, 2016, a West Cairo Military Court upheld death sentences for 8 individuals.  The court also commuted the sentence of 12 others to life in prison, along with assigning various prison terms to several other individuals.  Those sentenced to death have been convicted of being part of a terrorist network, although human rights groups claim that some of those convicted were forced into confessing and may be innocent.



Kuwait:  The death sentence of Abdulrahman Sabah Saud has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  Abdulrahman is convicted of driving an Islamic State suicide bomber to a mosque, where the bomber blew himself up, killing 26 other individuals.  Five other men also connected to the bombing, are still at large.  They have been sentenced to death in absentia.  



Malaysia: Twenty-eight-year-old Rita Krisdianti, an Indonesian national, has been sentenced to death for smuggling methamphetamine.  She was arrested at Penang Airport, returning from Hong Kong.  The drugs were found in her luggage.


Pakistan:  On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, Hameed Akhtar was executed by hanging at the Central Jail in Sahiwal.  Hameed was convicted of murdering Nisar Ahmad, a student, on May 15, 1995.



Palestine:  On Tuesday, May 31, 2016, three men were executed on the Gaza Strip by Hamas.  Hamas carried out the executions without the approval of the Palestinian president.  The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank condemned the execution.  One of the men executed was reportedly a policeman employed by the Palestine Authority.  The men were executed at dawn by either firing squad or hanging.



Saudi Arabia:  On Sunday, May 29, 2016, Fahd Houssawi, a Nigerian national, was executed for the murder of a police officer.  Fahd was likely executed by beheading, although it was not stated if this was the case.  Fahd was the 95th individual executed so far this year in the kingdom.


On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 14 men were sentenced to death for attacks on security forces in a Shiite area.  A total of 24 individuals were tried, with one individual being acquitted and the other nine receiving various prison sentences.



United States of America: Charles Flores was scheduled to be executed on Thursday, June 2, 2016, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.  His execution was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  Charles was convicted of the murder of Elizabeth “Betty” Black in Dallas, Texas.  The lead witness for the prosecution initially could not identify Charles as the perpetrator.   However, after she was hypnotized, she was able to identify Charles.  Read more about Charles and his case here.


The Supreme Court in Iowa has banned life without parole for juvenile offenders, no matter their crime.  Juveniles are anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.  The court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled that judges are unable to predict which youthful offenders could turn their life around.  Even with a chance a parole, it is not guaranteed.  The Parole Board will ultimately make the decision as to whether the inmate has reformed or continues to pose a danger to society.  


On Tuesday, May 31, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States turned down a request from a Louisiana inmate to have the court consider the constitutionality of the death penalty.  Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Ruth Ginsberg dissented, meaning they supported hearing the case.  The support of four justices is needed for the court to hear a case.  Both Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsberg have previously stated that they believe the death penalty system as a whole needs to be considered by the court.


On Tuesday, May 31, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the death sentence of Shawn Lynch in Arizona.  Shawn had been sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of James Panzarella in 2001.  The death sentence was overturned because the sentencing jury was not informed that Shawn could instead be sentenced life without the possibility of parole.


Louisiana will not carry out any executions until 2018, according to a ruling by a federal judge.  The state had requested that all executions be halted due to ongoing litigation by death row inmates.  The lawsuit by the inmates was first filed in 2012, and has been on hold since 2014, with several stays in the case granted.  The inmates are arguing that Louisiana’s death penalty protocol is a violation of their 8th Amendment rights.  The halt in executions was granted by US District Judge James J. Brady.


Following the death of Ben Hatfield, a former coal executive, a delegate plans to introduce a bill to the House of Representatives to reinstate the death penalty in the West Virginia.  Delegate Rupie Phillips was a friend of Ben’s and believes that the state needs to have the death penalty as a deterrent to such acts.