August 16, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 31

Guatemala: Sixty-three-year-old Alejandro Giammattei has been elected President of Guatemala. The former prisons chief, as part of his campaign, promised to reinstate the death penalty in the nation. He has also promised to deploy soldiers to the streets in an effort to reinstate law and order in a country plagued by extreme poverty, famine, violence, and corruption. President-elect Giammattei has also promised to work with the United States and change the controversial migration and asylum deal signed by his predecessor.



India: Twenty-four-year-old K. Jayakumar has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a nine-month-old girl in Warangal. In the speedy trial, the verdict was delivered just 50 days after the crime occurred. Jayakumar pled guilty to the crime. Special counsel had to be appointed for the accused, after local lawyers refused to take up the case.



Indonesia: Six individuals have been arrested from attempting to smuggle marijuana into the country by hiding it inside compressor cylinders and nitrogen cylinders. If convicted, each person could be sentenced to death. Four of the arrests occurred during a raid of a rented house, while the other two were arrested later. The island nation has some of the strictest drug laws in the world.



Iran: In Monday, August 5, 2019, 31-year-old Rasoul Ghadermolla was executed by hanging at Qom Prison. Rasoul was executed for killing another person four years ago after a disagreement about a product Rasoul purchased.


On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, five prisoners, Mohammad-Reza Shekari, Yousof Zakeri, Majid Arabali, Hossein Panjeh-Maryam, and Bahram Tork, were executed by hanging at Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj. Their crimes were not reported.


On Saturday, August 10, 2019, two individuals were executed by hanging at Mashhad Central Prison. The prisoners were identified as Ghodrat Alipanah and Yasser. Their crimes were not reported.


Also on Saturday, August 10, 2019, a man, identified only by his initials, was executed by hanging at Babol prison. He was convicted of murder, although no further details of his crime was given. In Iran, murder is not separated by degrees, and there is not consideration given if the death of another was caused intentionally or was self-defense.



Iraq: Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, in a recent interview, stated that his government plans to carry out executions of European Islamic State members found guilty in Iraqi courts. His statement is in response to calls to not carry out their punishments, as capital punishment is forbidden in Europe. Earlier this year, Iraq sentenced 11 French nationals to death for their roles in the Islamic State terrorist group, amount sentencing hundreds of other foreigners to various prison terms and some others to death. Now, the United Nations is calling upon France to repatriate the 11 French nationals sentenced to death, and try them in France. In part, the United Nations does not believe that those tried in Iraq were given a fair trial.



Malaysia: Yang di-Pertuan Agong, King of Malaysia, has granted a pardon to three Indonesian men who were setnenced to be executed. The three men, Bustamam bin Bukhari, Tarmizi bin Yaacob and Sulaiman bin Ismail, had been convicted of drug trafficking and were sentenced to death in 1996. In 2012, their sentences were reduced to 20 years in prison. Now, the three men have been freed from prison and returned to Indonesia.



United States of America: On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Gregory Lott was scheduled to be executed in Ohio. Gregory’s execution has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 12, 2020, due to ongoing problems with Ohio’s execution protocol. Fifty-four-year-old Gregory is convicted of murdering 82-year-old John McGrath during a robbery in his East Cleveland home on July 12, 1986.


On Thursday, August 15, 2019, Stephen West was executed by the state of Tennessee. His execution was carried out by electrocution. Fifty-six-year-old Stephen was convicted of the murder of 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her daughter 15-year-old Sheila on March 17, 1986, in Lake City, Tennessee.


Also on Thursday, August 15, 2019, Dexter Johnson was scheduled to be executed in Texas. His execution was stayed by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals over concerns about his mental competency. Thirty-one-year-old Dexter is convicted of the murder of 23-year-old Maria Aparece and 17-year-old Huy Ngo on June 18, 2006, in Houston, Texas.


As many states struggle to obtain drugs to be used in lethal injection, a lawmaker in Ohio has suggested using drugs that have been seized by the police; specifically, using fentanyl. Representative Scott Wiggam is behind the bill that would allow state prison officials to obtain fentanyl from drug busts, arguing that lethal injection is more humane than electrocution of firing squads. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid, responsible for over 3,000 overdose deaths in 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In 2018, over 100 pounds of fentanyl was seized in Ohio.


Lawmakers in Oregon recently passed a bill limiting the crimes for which capital punishment was permissible. Supporters of the bill said that the bill would not apply to old cases, only to cases moving forward, however prosecutors are now discovering that the bill presents many problems, as revealed by a recent ruling stating that a former death row inmate cannot be sentenced to death upon retrial. Additionally, those who have sentences pending, or those who have been returned to lower court may also be affected by the new law. In the bill, lawmakers attempted to make clear that any cases prior to January 1, 2020, would not be affected by the new bill, however one lawyer for a death row inmate who is scheduled to be retried, has already successfully argued that his client can no longer be sentenced to death. Lawmakers have asked the governor to call for a special session in order to attempt to fix the confusion.

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