December 7, 2018
IDPN 2018 Issue 49
Bangladesh: On Monday, December 3, 2018, a trial began for eight alleged Islamist extremists who are charged with a 2016 attack at a cafe in Gulshan neighborhood that killed 22 individuals, including 18 foreigners. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack. Two policemen were also killed in the attack. Two of the attackers have not yet been arrested, while the six others were present at the trial. If convicted, all could be sentenced to death.
Iran: On Thursday, November 29, 2018, a man identified only as Kamran, was executed by public hanging in Taft, which is in central Iran. According to the media, Kamran suffered from a mental disability and had previously been hospitalized in a psychiatric institute prior to committing murder. Kamran is convicted of murdering a 36-year-old woman, whom he claimed to love. He killed her after she did not return his affections.
On Saturday, December 1, 2018, Hossein Esmailpour was executed by hanging at Rasht Central Prison in northern Iran. Hossein was convicted of murdering Fakhri Langaroudi, an Islamic clergyman who held a prominent position at a religious school Hossein attended. Hossein alleges that he was sexually abused by Fakhri for years before the murder.
Seyyed-Danidal Zeinolabedin has had his death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court. He was convicted of murder. Allegedly, at the time of the murder, Seyyed-Danidal was only 17 years of age, making him a minor at the time of the crime. Those under the age of 18, are not to be sentenced to death. In the last five years, however, at least 40 juvenile offenders have been executed by hanging in the country.
On November 14, 2018, the prisoners were executed by hanging at Rajai Shahr prison. Reports now show that one of the executed was Omid Rostami. He was executed for a crime committed while he was a juvenile, at the age of 16. He was convicted of murder.
Gaza: A military court in the Hamas-run area of the Gaza strip has sentenced six individuals to death for “collaborating” with Israel. At least one of those sentenced to death was a woman. Eight others were given prison sentences for “collaborating with the occupation.”
India: Twenty-six-year-old Ashok was sentenced to death on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. He was convicted of murdering his sister, Kiran on February 9, 2017. Ashok killed Kiran because she had a married a man her family opposed in August 2015. She was found in suspicious circumstances and quickly cremated by her family. Kiran’s husband’s family filed a complaint with the police saying they believed her family killed her in an honor killing.
Pakistan: Asia Bibi, along with her husband, Ashiq Masih, are currently in hiding in government safe house. At least two of her children are being cared for by friends. One month ago, Asia was released from prison, where she had spent the last nine years after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Her acquittal and release has sparked nation-wide protests. Asia is currently not allowed to leave Pakistan to seek asylum in another country.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek-Labaik Pakistan party, has been arrested and charged with terrorism and sedition. Khadim, a cleric, was arrested after leading violent protests against the acquittal of Asia Bibi. As part of the protest, roads were blocked, cars and buses were burned, and many business were not able to open during the protests. The protesters also called for the murder of the judges who granted the acquittal and greatly insulted the Prime Minster Imran Khan.
Usman Wali Khan has been given three death sentences for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a six-year-old child. Usman had sought the six-year-old girl’s hand in marriage, but was refused by her family. At a wedding function on January 26, 2017, he kidnapped the girl. She was found dead two days later in a sugarcane field. Usman also confessed to the kidnapping and rape of two other minor girls from the same village.
United States of America: On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, Joseph Garcia was executed by the state of Texas. Joseph, a member of the “Texas 7,” a group of seven inmates who escaped from prison in 2000, was sentenced to death under the law of parities for the murder of 29-year-old Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins on December 24, 2000. Read more about Joseph’s case here.
On Thursday, December 6, 2018, David Miller was executed by the state of Tennessee. David was 61 years of age. He was executed for the murder of 23-year-old Lee Standifer on May 20, 1981, in Knoxville, Tennessee. David chose to executed by electric chair instead of lethal injection. Click here to read more about David’s case.
The Supreme Court of the United States is being asked to review the legal dispute between the Arkansas Supreme Court and Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen. The request was made by the legal team for Judge Griffen. Judge Griffen’s complaint against the Arkansas Supreme Court has already been dismissed by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, a federal district judge, and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The dispute between Judge Griffen and the Arkansas Supreme Court began in April 2017, when the Arkansas Supreme Court removed Judge Griffen from all cases involving the death penalty, after he participated in an anti-death penalty protest that included laying on a cot in front of the Governor’s Mansion, mimicking a death row inmate during their final moments. Earlier that same day, Judge Griffen issued a ruling halting several executions.
A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is arguing that Nebraska’s brief repeal of the death penalty in 2015, was sufficient to spare the lives all the inmates on death row in the state. The lawyer, Brian Stull, is arguing that the death penalty repeal went into effect on August 30, 2015, and was not suspended until October 16, when the petition signatures were verified and it became clear that the voters of the state would decide the issue at the voting booth in 2016. Attorneys for the state of Nebraska, dispute this assertion, arguing that the death penalty repeal was set to go into effect four days after the signatures were turned in, which was when the ban was suspended. Additionally, state lawyers note that legislatures do not have the power to change criminal sentences already given, as that power lies solely with the State Pardon’s Board. A similar lawsuit was dismissed by a Lancaster County judge 10 months ago.
In the week leading up to the execution of Joseph Garcia, BuzzFeed News released the name of one of two alleged suppliers of the state’s execution drug. BuzzFeed News revealed they learned this information from federal documents, but did not reveal how they came into possession of the documents. Texas has a state secrecy law which prevents the names of those involved in executions, including drug suppliers, from being made public. Since the name of the pharmacy has been revealed, protestors have gathered outside the pharmacy, demanding that it stop manufacturing the drugs. The owner of the pharmacy has denied making the drugs for executions in Texas.
Floyd Eugene Maestas, a death row inmate in Utah, was pronounced dead on Sunday, December 2, 2018. He was 62 years of age. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of 75-year-old Donna Bott, in Salt Lake City. He has been on death row since 2008. The Utah Department of Corrections has confirmed that Floyd died of natural causes.
Herminio Serna, a death row inmate in California, has been pronounced dead after he was found unresponsive in his cell on Monday, December 3, 2018. Herminio was 53 years of age. Herminio, a member of the Nuestra Familia gang, was convicted, along with three others, of murdering Esteban Guzman, Marcos Baca, and Sheila Apodaca. Allegedly, Sheila was Herminio’s lover, and threatened to tell the police what she knew of the gang’s activities. His cause of death will be determined after an autopsy is performed.
On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, Joseph Perez, Jr., was found unresponsive in his death row cell at San Quentin State Prison. He was later pronounced dead and an autopsy will be performed in order to determine his cause of death. Joseph was sentenced to death in 2002, for the March 24, 1998, murder of 46-year-old Janet Daher in Lafayette, California. Joseph was 47 years of age.