January 4, 2019
IDPN 2019 Issue 01
Bahrain: An anti-regime activist has been sentenced to death for protesting against the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah and his regime. Over a dozen other political dissidents were given life sentences, while still others were given varying prison terms. Additionally, at least 25 other activists were stripped of their Bahraini citizenship. All have been accused of launching an alleged bomb attack, resulting in the death of a security officer. Confessions to the crimes were allegedly obtained under torture.
China: On Thursday, January 3, 2019, 54-year-old Gao Chengyong was executed in Baiyin. Gao, nicknamed “Jack the Ripper of China,” was convicted of killing 11 individuals, the youngest of whom was eight-years-old. He also mutilated several of the bodies. He crimes occurred during the years of 1988 and 2002. He was arrested in 2016.
India: The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has concluded that death row inmates who come from poor socio-economic backgrounds receive harsher punishments and worse representation. The Committee has resolved for 2019 to increase the quality of legal aid received by these inmates.
Jordan: A 27-year-old man has had his death sentence reduced to 20 years in prison after charges were dropped against him. The man is convicted of murdering his sister in an “honor killing.” The parents have declined to press charges against their son. The court initially found him guilty of pre-meditated murder, which he denied, claiming he killed his sister in an act of rage for bringing dishonor upon the family.
Pakistan: According to Chief of Army Staff General Javed Bajwa, 22 “hardcore terrorists” were sentenced to death for their actions. The terrorists are convicted of a variety of crimes that include attacks on armed forces, law enforcement agencies, destruction of communication infrastructure, educational institutions, and killing innocent civilians. In total, the terrorists are convicted of killing 176 individuals and injuring hundreds more. Additionally, all the terrorists had confessed to being members of banned organizations.
Saudi Arabia: Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came into power eight months ago, there have been at least 133 individuals executed. In the prior eight months, only 67 individuals were executed. Many were executed for attempting to smuggle drugs in their bodies, while others were executed for murder. Most executions in the kingdom are carried out by beheading.
On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, Ahmed bin Ali bin Samer al-Mutairi was executed for the murder by stabbing of Khalid bin Mohammed bin Fahad al-Mutairi, after the two quarreled. Both men were Saudi nationals.
Five of the individuals accused of killing Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who was critical of Prince Mohammed, will face the death penalty, according to a recent announcement. A total of 11 individuals have been arrested in relation to the murder. Jamal was killed on October 2, 2018, at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
United States of America: Forty-Six-Year-Old George Brinkman, Jr., has been sentenced to death in Ohio for the murder of 42-year-old Suzanne Taylor, 21-year-old Taylor Pifer and 18-year-old Kylie Pifer at their home outside of Cleveland. The motive for the murder remains unclear, although Brinkman was considered a family friend. Brinkman is also being charged in another country for two more murders.
Lawyers for Marcus Dansby, on death row in Indiana, are arguing that executing a person younger than the age of 21 at the time of their alleged crimes, is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States has held, in 2005, that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone who was under the age of 18 when they committed the crime, but appeals similar to the one made by Dansby’s attorneys have failed. Dansby’s lawyers are arguing that new research from Temple University shows that human brains do not mature until at least the age of 22, and that young people can have trouble controlling their actions ,in addition to considering the consequences of those actions. Dansby is on death row for murdering four individuals, including his unborn child, in September 2016.
The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a request from former police officer James Duckett, who was seeking relief from his death sentence. James is convicted of raping and murdering 11-year-old Teresa Mae McAbee. James’ request for relief comes after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that juries must be unanimous in their decision to sentence an individual to death. The ruling was retroactively applied to all cases after 2002. James, however, was convicted and sentenced to death by an 8-4 jury in 1988.
Mumia Abu-Jamal a/k/a Wesley Cook, was sentenced to death in 1981 for the Pennsylvania murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Twenty-nine years after his conviction, a court through out his death sentence due to flawed jury instructions. In 2011, prosecutors agreed to sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. One year later, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Mumia’s last appeal, however a judge has now ruled that he can once again appeal his case. Mumia’s latest appeal is based on comments made by former Justice Ronald Castille, in which he advocated for the death penalty for police killers. Mumia and his attorneys are arguing that Castille was bias and should have recused himself from the case.