August 2, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 30

Bahrain: On Friday, July 26, 2019, 24-year-old Ahmad al-Mullali and 25-year-old Ali Hakim al-Arab were executed at a prison just south of Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Both men were arrested for possessing firearms and killing a police officer and convicted of “terrorism offenses” in January 2018. The execution was opposed by the United Nations and various human rights organizations who believe that the two men did not receive a fair trial and were coerced into making confessions.


Belarus: Fifty-year-old Viktar Paulau has been sentenced to death for murdering two elderly sisters in December 2018. Paulau beat the women to death for stealing cash and alcohol from the house. Belarus is the only European country to continue to use capital punishment, and has repeatedly been urged to abolish the practice by the European Union.


China: On Tuesday, July 30, 2019, Zhao Zhihong was executed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Zhao is a convicted serial killer who has been found guilty of committing nearly two dozen rapes and murders between 1996 and 2005. One of the murders for which he has been convicted resulted in another man being executed for it. The other man was posthumously exonerated in December 2014. The family of the wrongfully executed was also compensated $330,000, and given an official apology. International human rights have urged the country to abolish the practice of capital punishment. The exact number of executions in China is unknown, but they are though to be the world leader in executions per a year, with thousands in any given year.



India: Twenty-year-old Anil Pandey has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a three-and-half-year-old girl in Surat in October 2018. The parents of the victim are happy with the court’s decision.


The Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty for Manoharan, a man convicted of “horribly” gang raping a 10-year-old girl and then throwing her and her seven-year-old brother into a canal with their hands tied in 2010, leading to their deaths. Manoharan’s co-conspirator, Mohanakrishnan, was killed before he could be arrested.



Indonesia: Haris Simamora, a/k/a Harry Aris Sandigon, has been sentenced to death after being convicted of the murder of a family of four in Bekasi, West Java in November 2018. According to the courts, Haris held a grudge against the family and planned how he would kill and rob the family of four - 38-year-old Diperum Nainggolan, his wife 37-year-old Maya Boru Ambarita, and their children nien-year-old Sarah Boru Nainggolan, and seven-year-old Arya Nainggolan. After the family invited Haris to go Christmas shopping with them, he waited for the family to fall asleep. He then beat the parents to death with a crowbar, before taking the children into another bedroom and strangling them to death. After the murders, he fled to Mount Guntur, where he planned to go hiking to clear his head. He was arrested during his hike.


Thirty-five-year-old French national Felix Dorfin has had his death sentence commuted to 19 years in prison. Felix was convicted of drug smuggling. It is unclear why his death sentence has been commuted. Felix had made headlines earlier this year when he escaped from jail while awaiting trial.



Iran: On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Peyman Hamdollahi Boroujerdi was executed by hanging in a prison in Bandar-Abbas in southern Iran. Peyman was convicted of killing another man during a fight. His family was unable to come up with the necessary blood money required to avoid his execution.


Mohammad Ali Najafi, former mayor of Tehran, has been sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. Mohammad is convicted of murdering his second wife Mitra Ostad at their home on May 28, 2019. Mohammad turned himself in to the police and confessed to the killing, in which Mitra’s body was found in the bathtub of the home. Mohammad has also served as the economic advisor and education minister to President Hassan Rouhani. Mohammad was then elected mayor of Tehran in August 2017, but resigned in April after facing criticism from conservatives. Mohammad married Mitra without divorcing his first wife and while polygamy is legal in the nation, it is not popular or widely accepted.


Arash Shah-Hosseini has reportedly been executed by hanging at Shiraz Central Prison. His execution has not been announced by the authorities. He was convicted of killing another man during a fight three years ago.


On Sunday, July 29, 2019, an unnamed man was executed by hanging at Nur prison. The man is believed to be 23 years of age at the time of the execution. He was convicted of murder five years ago, which would make him a juvenile at the time of the crime. Executions of juvenile offenders is condemned by the United Nations and multiple human right groups.


On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, 30-year-old Mohammad Ghodrati was executed by hanging at Rajai-Shahr prison in Karaj. His crime was not reported. His execution has not been announced by the Iranian authorities.



Japan: On Friday, August 2, 2019, 64-year-old Koichi Shoji and 50-year-old Yasunori Suzuki were executed by hanging in the nation’s first executions of the year. Shoji was executed at Tokyo Detention house for the murder of two women in Kanagawa Prefecture in 2001. Suzuki was convicted of killing three women in Fukuoka Prefecture during 2004 and 2005. His execution was carried out at the Fukuoka Detention House. Japan last carried out an execution in December 2018.



Morocco:Two Dutch nationals have been sentenced to death by the Court of Appeal in Marrakech for a shooting at La Crème Cafe in Marrakech, which killed a young medical student and seriously injured another student. The shooting was related to drug trafficking, for which the owner of the cafe and his cousin were convicted on related charges and received prison sentences. Three other were also convicted on drug related charges and given varying prison sentences. While the two men were sentenced to death, an execution has not occurred in Morocco since 1993.



Singapore: Two years ago, Chan Lie Sian was sentenced to death for the murder of 35-year-old William Tiah Hung Wai. Chan suspected William was guilty of stealing from him and beat him with a dumbbell rod. Chan, now 54, has successfully appealed his death sentence with the argument that he did not intend to kill William, only to cause bodily harm. Chan’s sentence has been reduced to life in prison.



United Arab Emirates: A 30-year-old man, identified only by the initials GCC, has been sentenced to death for murdering another man inside a mosque in Al Ain in 2017. It is believed that GCC stalked the man he murdered, waiting until he was alone to end his life. GCC ran from the scene of the crime, but later turned himself into the police.



United States of America: As the US Justice Department shocked the nation with the apparently sudden decision to resume federal executions, by setting five execution dates, they also announced a new protocol that would be used. Previously, the federal government, like many states, used a three-drug lethal injection protocol. Those drugs have been increasingly difficult to obtain and many states have switched to new execution methods. In its recent announcement, the Justice Department announced that it also would be changing the lethal injection protocol. Instead of the three-drug method, a single dose of pentobarbital will be used. Pentobarbital is most commonly used to induce surgical comas and is related to a version used to euthanize animals. The Supreme Court has not examined the constitutionally of the use of pentobarbital in executions, although there is little doubt that appeals will be filed prior to the December 9, 2019, when the first federal death row inmate is scheduled to be executed.


Ayanna Pressly, a Democratic representative in the House, has introduced a bill that would eliminate capital punishment at the federal level. Included in the bill is language that would give new sentences to those already on death row at the federal level. The bill has garnered the support of at least 12 other representatives.


Senator Cory Booker, who is also a democratic presidential candidate, has introduced a bill that would abolish capital punishment at a federal level. The bill is cosponsored by fellow democratic presidential candidates Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, among others Senate Democrats. The bill is a direct response to the recent surprise move by the Trump Administration in scheduling five federal executions.


One of the five federal death row inmates recently scheduled to be executed, Lezmond Mitchell, is arguing that his death sentenced should be overturned because the murders occurred on Navajo land and the Navajo Nation opposes capital punishment. Attorneys for the Navajo Nation have repeatedly written letters opposing Mitchell’s execution. Mitchell’s crimes occurred on Navajo land and the laws regarding US government intervention in crimes committed on Navajo land are complicated. The Navajo Nation has land in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.


Federal prosecutors have announced that they plan to seek the death penalty for 30-year-old Shawn Burkhalter, of Kansas City, and 25-year-old Joshua Nesbitt of Crowder, Mississippi. The two men are accused of murdering Anthony Dwayne Johnson and Danny Lamont Dean in Kansas City. Burkhalter and Nesbitt were allegedly attempting to steal drugs that they wanted to sell. The two men are also charged with evidence tampering, as the two planned to kill or threaten witnesses who were killing to talk to the police and/or testify in court.


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, has indicated that he is willing to provide testimony in order to avoid capital punishment. Four others have also expressed similar willingness. In his letter to the US District Court in Manhattan, Mohammed clearly stated that only “in the absence of a potential death sentence much broader cooperation would be possible.”  His request comes shortly after the US Justice Department announces the resumption of federal executions, with the scheduling of five federal executions.


Mark Brnovich, the attorney general for the state of Arizona, has asked that executions be resumed in the state by sending a letter to Governor Doug Ducey. In the letter, Mark stated that litigation regarding challenges to the state’s execution protocol has been settled. There are 14 death row inmates in Arizona who have completed their appeals process. In order to resume executions, the Attorney General’s office is asking for the help of the governor in order to obtain execution drugs.


In 2012, Joseph Thomas was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping, robbing, and murder of Annie McSweenin Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio. In 2017, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed the death sentence of Thomas, ordering him to receive a new trial as evidence was introduced at the first trail that was “irrelevant and prejudicial.” His second trial has recently concluded and resulted in him being sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.


In 2005, Fredrick Michael Baer was sentenced to death for the murder of 26-year-old Cory Clark and her four-year-old daughter Jenna near Lapel, Indiana on February 25, 2004. In 2018, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overture this death sentence due to prosecutorial misconduct and misleading jury instructions. Now, Circuit Judge Mark Dudley resentenced Baer to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.



Vietnam: Fifty-five-year-old Lam Kim Phung, a Vietnamese-Australian, has been sentenced to death for running a drug trafficking operation between Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Three others who worked for her, Le Quang Cuong, Nguyen Duy Thach Thao and Tran Quynh Linh, were also sentenced to death for “illegal trading of narcotic substances.” An additional three people were given life sentences, and four others were given varying prison terms, all in connection with the drug ring. Lam began running drugs from Cambodia after running restaurant and casino businesses in Cambodia, resulting in a financial loss.

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