March 15, 2019
IDPN 2019 Issue 11
India: Thirty-four-year-old Ram Kiran Munnilal Gaud, watchman at a residential complex, has been sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a three-and-half-year-old girl. The child was kidnapped on September 30, 2013. She was taken to a vacant room, raped, and beaten to death, before her body was dumped in a nearby pond.
Twenty-one-year-old Abez Ajmer Shaikh has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a four-and-half-year-old girl in Bhiwandi. The girl was kidnapped on April 1, 2018.
Iran: According to unofficial reports, on February 13, 2019, Ali Shakouri was executed by hanging at Qazvin Central Prison. Ali is accused of killing another person during a fight.
On Monday, March 11, 2019, 50-year-old ShirMohammad Naroei and his son, 20-year-old Younes Naroei, were executed by hanging at Birjand Central Prison. The father and son were executed on drug related charges.
Malaysia: Siti Aisyah, the Indonesian woman accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, has had the charges against her dropped shortly before her trial was scheduled to begin. Siti, along with Vietnamese nation Doan Thi Huong, were accused of smearing VX nerve against on Jong-nam’s face in 2017. Both have stated they believed the act was a prank for a television show. The reason prosecutors dropped the charges is unknown. Huong remains charged. If convicted, she could be executed.
Pakistan: Asia Bibi, a Christian, spent nine years on death row after being accused by fellow villagers of insulting the prophet Mohammed. Her acquittal last year sparked outrage and riots in the Muslim majority nation. Following the verdict, Asia was taken into protective custody and she has not been allowed to leave the country. Asia’s children, who are currently in hiding in Canada, are begging for their mother’s release. Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have often been accused of being used to settle personal disputes or to obtain revenge,
United States of America: Gavin Newsom, governor of California, has announced a moratorium on executions in the state, granting a temporary reprieve for all 737 inmates on death row in the state. In signing the executive order, Governor Newsom is fulfilling one of his campaign promises. Interestingly, in 2012, and 2016, the voters of California were given a voice on the subject of capital punishment. In both elections, voters had the option of voting to end capital punishment in the state. In both cases, the voters chose to retain capital punishment in California. Additionally, in 2016, voters voted on a measure to speed up the execution process in the state, which has not executed anyone since 2006. The Governor does not have the ability to abolish capital punishment in the state. Since 2006, the state’s lethal injection protocol has been appealed to various courts, preventing any executions from taking place. There are currently 25 inmates on death row in California who have complete their appeals. Since 1978, only 13 executions have been carried out. On death row, 79 inmates have died of natural causes and 26 others have committed suicide.
The Senate in Arkansas has approved a measure, by a vote of 25-9, that would conceal the identities of those who provide execution drugs to the state. Supporters of the bill note that anti-death penalty activists have pressured pharmaceutical companies to not sell drugs to be used in executions and argue that the bill is necessary. The bill now moves onto the House of Representatives.
Thirty-six-year-old Christopher Kennedy has been removed from death row in Pennsylvania after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced that it would no longer pursue the death penalty in the case. Kennedy was sentenced to death in 2004 after the January 19, 2003, murder of 35-year-old Michael Richardson, a Rite Aid store manager, during a robbery. Kennedy was initially sentenced to death, however, he was granted a new penalty-phase hearing. The District Attorney’s office did not give a reason for refusing to pursue the death penalty again. Kennedy will be resentenced to life in prison.
Ronald Bell and another unnamed 44-year-old death row inmate have both been found dead in their cells on California’s death row, within hours of each other. While the unidentified inmate is believed to have committed suicide, 69-year-old Bell is believed to have been murdered by his cell mate, who has been placed in solitary confinement. The cell mate was serving a life sentence for murder. The causes of death for both men have not yet been officially determined.