February 16, 2018
IDPN 2018 Issue 07
Indonesia: Udo Tohar has been sentenced to death for controlling the distribution of drugs from behind bars. Udo was originally arrested in December of 2015, for possessing drugs. He was given a life sentence for that crime. In sentencing Udo to death, the court noted that he did not support the government’s programs to eradicate drug crimes.
Iran: On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 10 prisoners were executed by hanging at Gohardasht Prison. Their names and crimes were not reported.
Singapore: Thirty-two-year-old Gopu Jaya Raman has escaped being sentenced to death for smuggling drugs. Gopu, a Malaysian national of Indian origin, was arrested when drugs were discovered on his motorcycle during a routine stop. Gopu claimed that the drugs were not his and that they were put on his motorcycle without his knowledge. While cooperating with the police, Gopu asked one of his associates why they placed drugs on his motorcycle without his knowledge. The associate did not deny doing so, supporting Gopu’s narrative of the events, and helped lead to his acquittal.
Pakistan: Military courts have sentenced to death seven “hardcore” militants. They have been convicted of a variety of attacks that have killed dozens of individuals, including civilians and law enforcement officers. The court did not specify to which militant group or groups the seven belonged. Pakistan resumed executions in December of 2014, after the Taliban killed over 150 individuals, mostly children, at a school.
On Thursday, February 15, 2018, Saiful Islam was executed by hanging at Central Jail Haripur. He was convicted of murdering three, and injuring two, during an attempt to solve a property dispute.
United States of America: Raymond TIbbetts was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, in Ohio. His execution was stayed by Governor John Kasich and has been rescheduled for Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Raymond is convicted of murdering his wife, Judith Sue Crawford, and 67-year-old Fred Hicks on November 6, 1997, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Read more about his case and the stay of execution here.
On Friday, February 9, 2018, Graham Saunders Henry, a death row inmate in Arizona, died of natural causes. He was 71 years of age. Graham was convicted and sentenced to death for his part in the robbery, kidnapping, and murder of the elderly Roy Estes, who was then left in the Mojave Desert.
In 2015, lawmakers in the state of Nebraska voted to abolish capital punishment. Governor Pete Ricketts vetoed the bill, but lawmakers overrode the veto leading to the group Nebraskans for the Death Penalty to raise money and collect signatures that would allow the voters to decide the issue on the 2016 election ballot. The effort was successful, with Governor Ricketts even donating $300,000 of his own money to the campaign. Voters elected to keep the death penalty in the state. However, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit arguing that the vote was invalid because of the money donated by the Governor. Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn has now dismissed the lawsuit. In his opinion he noted that if he accepted the argument by the ACLU, then “a wide range of activity [would be] constitutionally suspect, like members of the executive and legislative branch endorsing one another for office, campaigning for one another, or donating to another’s campaign.” Nebraska’s last execution occurred in 1997, over 20 years ago.
Department of Corrections officials in Kentucky have proposed new rules that would allow executions to resume in the state, if approved. The last execution in Kentucky occurred in 2008. Then, in 2010, Frankling Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued an injunction that effectively halted executions in the states. The reason for the injunction was concerns over how the state would determine the mental competency of an inmate and whether the drugs would cause pain and suffering to the inmate, violating their constitutional rights. It is practically guaranteed that these new rules will be appealed in court prior to being implemented and used to carry out executions.
In Washington state, the Senate has passed a bill, 26-22, that would abolish the death penalty in the state. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. Prior to the Senate vote, two proposed amendments were struck down; one would have allowed for the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officers, while the other would have allowed the death penalty for those who murder a correctional officer. They were struck down. In the bill passed by the Senate, the death penalty would be replaced with life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled against death row inmate Roy Ward who appealed to the court arguing that the process used to choose the three-drug death injection cocktail was unconstitutional. The decision by the Supreme Court was unanimous. Roy’s attorneys were arguing that there was a lack of oversight in regards to who picks the drugs that will be used to execute inmates, however the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Corrections has followed the correct procedure. Neither Roy, nor any of the 10 other death row inmates in the state, have execution dates.
Yemen: Asmaa al-Omeissy, Saeed al-Ruwaished, and Ahmed Bawazeer have been convicted and sentenced to death by a Huthi court for aiding an enemy country, with alleged links to al-Qa’ida. Matir al-Omeissy, Asmaa’s father, has been given a 15-year prison sentenced on related charges. The were arrested at a checkpoint in 2016, and have told Amnesty International that they have been tortured and ill-treated since then.