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February 22, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 08

Egypt: On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, nine men were executed in connection with the assassination of Hisham Barakat, the former prosecutor-general. The nine executed individuals were part of a group of 28, that were sentenced to death for the car bomb attack that targeted Hisham’s convoy in Cairo. Human right groups have decried the sentences and executions, arguing that the trials were unfair that the men were tortured into confessing.

 

India: Inmates Akshaya Patel and Kuldeep Panchat were convicted of the 2012 kidnapping and murder of four-and-half-year-old Maharsh (Bholu), the son of businessman. They were initially sentenced to death for the crime. The sentence has since been commuted to life in prison by the Gujarat High Court, who ruled that the case did not fall into the “rarest of the rare category.”

 

Fifty-year-old Jhaggar Yadav has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in Dallirajhra. His death sentences was announced by Balod District and Session Judge Rajendra Pradham. Jhaggar’s case was determined to be the “worst of the worse,” making him eligible for the death penalty.

 

 

Iran: On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 34-year-old Ali Shakouri, Behrouz Bayat, and Mohammed Hedayati were executed by hanging. All three were convicted of murder. Shakouri was executed at Ardebil prison in northwestern Iran, while Bayat and Hedayati were executed at Raja’i Shahr Prison.

 

 

Kenya: Former Ruaraka Police Station boss, Nahashon Mutua, has been sentenced to death for the murder of inmate Martin Koome in 2013. According to presented evidence, Mutua attacked Koome with a metal pipe before submerging his head in water. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Police brutality has been fairly common in the country, however, a police oversight authority was set up in 2011 to counter police brutality. A filed complaint showed that Mutua tried to pin the murder on another man, and that he attempted to interfere with the investigation by intimidating and coercing witnesses.

 

 

Taiwan: The High Court has upheld the death sentence of 53-year-old Weng Jen-hsien. Weng is convicted of murdering his family during a Lunar New Year’s Eve celebration, by dosing them in gasoline and setting them on fire. He is convicted of killing six individuals. Weng has not shown any remorse for his crime, previously saying that he had intended to kill his entire family.

 

 

United States of America: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced that Ohio will not carry out an execution “when a federal judge has found it to be cruel and unusual punishment.” In addition, he has ordered prison officials to create a new execution protocol, that will more than likely face legal challenges. Recently, in the weeks preceding the execution of Warren Hannes, US District Court Judge Michale Merz ruled that the current execution protocol in Ohio could cause “sever pain and needless suffering” to the inmates, and compared it to waterboarding. However, Judge Merz did not halt the execution, noting that the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that inmates must demonstrate a feasible alternative execution method in order for a stay to be granted on the grounds that execution drugs could cause pain and suffering. Since the Warren could not provide that information, Judge Merz ruled that the execution could proceed. Governor DeWine later halted the execution. It took Ohio over three years to develop their current execution protocol after drugs in their previous protocol became unavailable.

 

President Donald Trump has once again spoken out in favor of using the death penalty for drug traffickers. In speaking with reporters, President Trump suggested that the nation follow China’s example, and execute drug dealers and traffickers, arguing that it would end drug problems in the United States. Previously, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that only murder is punishable by capital punishment.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that 59-year-old, Texas death row inmate Bobby James Moore is intellectually disabled and, therefore, ineligible to be executed. Bobby is convicted of murdering 72-year-old Jame McCarble, a grocery store clerk in Houston, during a robbery in 1980. The case reached the Supreme Court of the United States after Texas Attorney General’s Office took over when the Harris County District Attorney’s Office agreed that Bobby should not be executed. It is expected that Bobby’s case will be remanded back to a lower court who will commute his sentence to life in prison, which means Bobby will be eligible for parole. However, prosecutors have said it is highly unlikely that Bobby will be released.

 

Michael Addison is the only inmate on death row in New Hampshire, which has not carried out an execution since 1939. Michael is convicted to killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006. Legislators in the state are pressing for a bill that would end capital punishment in the state, however, they insist that it would not affect Addison’s sentence. Supporters of capital punishment argue that if the bill passes, Addison’s sentence will be commuted to life in prison. Previously, legislatures passed an identical bill, only to have it vetoed by the governor. The legislature was unable to override the veto.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to hear the case of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who has been banned from hearing death penalty cases. No reason was given for their refusal. Judge Griffen was stripped of his authority to hear capital murder cases by seven justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court in April of 2017, after Judge Griffen actively took part in a death penalty protest at the Governor’s mansion just hours after halting the state’s plan to carry out seven executions in two weeks. Following a complaint by the state, which argued that Judge Griffen was bias, the Arkansas Supreme Court stripped Judge Griffen of his authority to hear capital punishment cases. Judge Griffen has argued that the his First Amendment rights are being violated by the Arkansas Supreme Court’s ruling.

 

The Senate in Washington state has passed a bill, by a vote of 28-19, that would make a recent State Supreme Court ruling permanent. Late last year, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously ruled that capital punishment in the state is arbitrary and racially bias, thereby making it unconstitutional. The bill passed in the Senate would remove capital punishment as a sentencing option for murder, replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. If the measure is passed by the House of Representatives, where it is currently in consideration, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced that he will sign it.

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