August 9, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 31

India: The Bombay Hight Court has commuted the death sentences of Purushottam Borate and Pradeep Kokade to life in prison (a minimum of 35 years each), on the grounds of their executions being delayed. Both men were convicted of the rape and murder of Jyoti Kumari Choudhary, a BPO employee in Pune, on November 1, 2007. The court found that the delay of four years in carrying out the execution was “undue, inordinate, and unreasonable.” The four years include the two years it took for the Governor of Maharashtra to process their mercy please. Such a delay violates the rights of accused, according to the court.



Iran: On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Hamid Samaei was executed by hanging at Gorgan prison. Hamid has always insisted that he was innocent of the murder for which he was convicted. Hamid was at a wedding when a drunk man began attacking others with a sword. That man was ultimately killed with a knife. Hamid was convicted of the murder, although several witnesses testified that Hamid did not do it.


On Thursday, August 1, 2019, two prisoners were executed by hanging at Rasht Central Prison, also known as Lakan prison. Both men were convicted of murder. One of the men was identified as Kousha Mottaghi, while the other man was not identified by name.


On Sunday, August 4, 2019, two prisoners were executed by hanging at Dezful Prison. The two men, Abdullah Karmollah Chab and Ghassem Beit-Abdullah, were convicted of moharebeh, or waging war against God. An Iranian official stated that the men formed a terrorist group, bought weapons, and killed two pilgrims, also wounding three others. Although the men have confessed, Amnesty International alleges that the confessions were obtained under torture.


On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, five prisoners were executed by hanging at Rajai-Shahr prison in Karaj. All were convicted of murder. Of the five executed, three were identified by name: Mohammadreza Shokri, Yousef Zakeri and Hossein Panjeh-Maryam.



Philippines: The debate over the death penalty has been ongoing in the Philippines. Currently a bill has been proposed that would reinstate capital punishment. Former boxer and current Senator Manny Pacquiao supports the bill and engaged in an argument over capital punishment with another senator. Opponents to the bill claim that it is unfair and that mistakes can be made, which could have devastating effects.



Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has introduced a bill that would abolish capital punishment in the country. The proposal would also commute the death sentences of all current inmates on death row. President Sirisena, however, is opposed to the bill and in support of retaining capital punishment. The proposed bill comes at a time when the nation is preparing for the execution of four convicted drug offenders. The European Union has warned Sri Lanka that if they proceed with executions, there could be economical repercussions, as it would violate an agreement that had been signed.



United States of America: In 1984, voters in Oregon amended the state’s constitution to include capital punishment. Now, Governor Kate Brown has signed a bill would restrict the use of capital punishment in the state. As part of her reasoning for signing the bill, Governor Brown noted that it has been 22 years since an execution was carried out, and that in the last 50 years, only two men, who had both waived their rights to appeals, were executed. However, a moratorium was imposed on the death penalty in 2011 by former Governor John Kitzahber. Governor Brown continued that moratorium during her tenure. There are currently 31 inmates on death row in Oregon. The recent bill signed by Governor Brown narrows the definition of aggravated murder, which is the only crime that can be punished by death. The bill only allows for execution for those convicted of killing two or more people as an act of terrorism; intentionally and with premeditation kill a child younger than 14; kill another person while locked up in jail or prison for a previous murder; or kill a police, correctional or probation officer.


Prosecutors in Louisiana have announced that they plan to seek the death penalty for 25-year-old Hanna Nicole Barker, who is accused of burning her son, 6-month-old Levi Cole Ellerbe to death on July 18, 2018. A second woman, 27-year-old Felicia Smith, who was in a relationship with Barker, has also been accused in the murder. Allegedly, Barker asked Smith to kill the child. Both women have pled not guilty to the charges against them.


Following two mass shootings in one weekend, one in El Paso, Texas, and another in Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump is asking the Department of Justice to propose legislation that would allow federal executions to be carried out “without years of needless delay.” It has already been announced that state prosecutors in Texas will seek the death penalty against the gunman, while federal authorities will purse a domestic terrorism case. While it has not yet been determined, federal prosecutors could also seek a sentence of death, however the state trial will happen before a federal case.

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