March 23, 2018

IDPN 2018 Issue 11

Israel: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is seeking the death penalty for those involved in a recent ramming attack that killed two IDF soldiers. In his announcement, Liberman called the terrorists who were supporters by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. At least one arrest has been made in relation to the case. A Hamas spokesman has said the attack was a result of United States President Donald Trump announcing that he would move to US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.



Iran: On Thursday, March 15, 2018, two unnamed brothers were executed by public hanging in Dogonbadan in Gachsaran County. They were convicted of an armed robbery of a jewelry store in September of 2017, that resulted in the death of two of the shopkeepers.

On Monday, March 19, 2018, Mohammad Salas was sentenced to death by a court. Salas was the driver of bus that killed three police officers and injured several others on February 19, 2018. On the day of the incident, security forces had clashed with members of the Sufi order who were protesting the arrest of several members of their sect. Salas can appeal his sentence.



Japan: The government has decided to, on June 1, 2018, begin allowing plea bargains. With this new law, prosecutors can agree to not seek charges or seek lesser charges and punishments in exchange for information in cases. The government believes that allowing plea bargains will help prosecutors solve more crimes, however, those opposed to this new law argue that it will lead to false statements and innocent people being charged and convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 25-year-old Yuma Kobayashi who is accused of stabbing a man to death and injuring his three children. On October 19, 2016, Yuma broke into the home 43-year-old Yukinobu Kawakami in Kadoma, Japan. Yuma stabbed Yukiobu to death, also injuring Yukiobu’s three teenage and young adult children. Yuma claims that he has schizophrenia and does not remember committing the crime and other portions of his life. The survivors of the attack are asking the court to sentence Yuma to death.

Twenty-five-year-old Hayato Imai has been found guilty and sentenced to death for murdering three elderly residents at a nursing home where he worked. The one man and two women were killed by being pushed off their balconies. During Hayato’s trial it was determined that the elderly residents, ages 86, 87, and 96, would have been physically unable to climb over the balcony railings themselves. This ruled out the possibility of suicides or accidents. Hayato had confessed to the crimes.



Saudi Arabia: On Sunday, March 18, 2018, 53-year-old M. Zaini Misrin, who is from Indonesia, was executed by beheading. Indonesian President Joko Widodo had repeatedly asked the Saudi government to spare Zaini. Zaini worked in Saudi Arabia as a driver. He was convicted of murdering Abdullah bin Umar Munammad Al Sindy, his employer, in 2004. Zaini was sentenced to death in November 2008. A group working for migrant rights in Saudi Arabia claims that Zaini was denied proper representation, did not have access to a translator, and was forced to confess to the crime.



Singapore: On Friday, March 16, 2018, 56-year-ol Hishamrudin Mohd was executed by hanging in Changi Prison Complex. His final appeal to reopen his case was rejected the day before. Hishamrudin was convicted of trafficking drugs and sentenced to death in 2016. He insisted that he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted and alleged that he was assaulted by arresting officers and had evidence planted on him.



United States of America: On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Russell Bucklew was scheduled to be executed in Missouri. His execution was stayed by the Supreme Court of the United States an hour after it was scheduled to begin. Russell and his attorneys successfully argued that due to his rare medical condition, the execution could violate his 8th Amendment rights. His execution was stayed to allow the court additional time to consider their arguments. Russell and his attorneys have suggested that he could be executed by gas, which is legal in Missouri, however the state no longer has a working gas chamber. Russell is convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Michael Sanders. Read more about Russell’s condition and his crime here.

President Donald Trump has announced that his administration is attempting to change the law to allow convicted drug traffickers to be executed. President Trump believes that this change would help fight the drug problem in America. Despite the president’s support, Congress is unlikely to support such a measure and if passed, the law would likely face years of legal challenges before it could be implemented.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the death sentence of Mississippi inmate Lisa Jo Chamberlin. She is the only female on death row in the state. Lisa is convicted, along with her boyfriend Roger Lee Gillett, of murdering 34-year-old Vernon Hulett and 37-year-old Linda Heintzelman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in March of 2004. Lisa was taken off death row when she received a new sentencing trial in 2015, when a US District Judge ruled that prosecutors intentionally struck potential black jurors. Lisa is white. The full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 9-5 ruling, reinstated the death penalty, saying that there was no misconduct in selecting the jury members.

Kay Ivey, the governor of Alabama has signed into law a bill that allows death row inmates to choose death by nitrogen hypoxia. Nitrogen hypoxia causes death by removing all oxygen from a sealed area. Alabama is the third state to approve such a measure, behind Oklahoma and Mississippi. Many states are looking into alternative options to lethal injection as execution drugs have become more difficult to find and purchase.

Douglas Tyron Armstrong, an inmate in Texas, was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of 60-year-old Rafael Castelan in Donna, Texas in 2007. He was initially sentenced to death for his crime. He has now been resentenced to life in prison after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered that he receive a new sentencing trial. Instead of pursuing the death penalty, prosecutors have agreed to have Douglas sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Douglas insists he is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted and will continue to pursue appeals.



Zimbabwe: President Emmerson Mnangagwa has released thousands of individuals from prison, including everyone under the age of 18, all women not serving life sentences, all disabled and terminally ill prisoners, and all those sentenced to life in prison prior to February 28, 1998. Additionally, he commuted death sentences for some inmates who have been on death row for over a decade. The president has spoken out against the death penalty in the past, having once survived a hanging. Prisons in the nation are also overcrowded.

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