August 23, 2019

IDPN 2019 Issue 33

India: Twenty-six-year-old Sanju Tanti has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a minor person in North Tripura district. Sanju was the first person sentenced to death under a new law that allows for strict punishment of crimes committed against minors. In addition to being sentence to death, Sanju has also been fined for his crimes.


Iran: Sixty-seven-year-old Mohammad Ali Najafi, the former mayor of Tehran was sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering his second wife, Mitra Ostad in their home. Now, the family of Mitra has decided to grant him a reprieve, in accordance with Islamic law, meaning he will not be executed. Mohammad was also given a two-year jail sentence for the illegal possession of a firearm. It is unclear at this time if he will also be given a prison sentence for murder.

On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, a prisoner, identified by his initials only, was executed by hanging in the city of Khodabandeh. The man was convicted of killing three people last year.


Also on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Saeed Khalaj was executed by hanging at Karaj Central Prison. Saeed was convicted of murder. His execution has not been reported by the state media. The Iranian media and authorities do not announce every execution that occurs.


On Thursday, August 15, 2019, three individuals were executed by hanging at a prison in Zahedan. The three men were identified as 24-year-old Olya Norouzehi, 28-year-old Iman Saravani, and Gol-Ahmad Azarnegar. All three were convicted of murder.


Also on Thursday, August 15, 2019, 36-year-old Hashem Mardoudi was executed at the prison of Najafabad city. Hashem was convicted of murder, and the victim’s family demanded qisas (retribution in kind) and refused to accept diya (blood money), in exchange for sparing Hashem from execution.


On Saturday, August 17, 2019, 34-year-old Seyed Reza Dabbagh was executed by hanging at a prison in Kashmar. Seyed was convicted on drug related offenses.


On Sunday, August 18, 2019, Amin Zanganeh was reportedly executed by hanging at Shiraz prison. Amin was convicted of murder. His execution has not been reported by the state media.



Japan: Forty-one-year-old Shinji Aoba was arrested shortly after he set fire to Kyoto Animation Studio, resulting in 33 deaths. Allegedly, Shinji has a mental illness, which could result in him not being sentenced to death. The exact nature of Shinji’s mental illness has not been announced. Shinji could still face life imprisonment if found guilty.



Uganda: The nation’s Parliament has passed a law that abolishes the mandatory death penalty for certain crimes. The law must be approved by President Yoweri Museveni. The new law would restrict capital punishment to only the most serious of crimes, and only at the judges discretion. There are 133 inmates on death row in Uganda, with the last execution being carried out 20 years ago. Many legislators supported the bill, viewing it as a step towards complete abolition of capital punishment in the nation. In 2009, a court ruled that if an inmate was not executed within three years, then the sentence would be automatically converted to life in prison, as a person should not be kept on death row indefinitely.



United States of America: On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, Larry Swearingen was executed by lethal injection at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Larry was executed for the kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old college student Melissa Trotter on December 8, 1998, in Montgomery County, Texas.


Gary Bowles was executed by the state of Florida on Thursday, August 22, 2019, at the Florida State Prison near Raiford, Florida. The execution was carried out by lethal injection. Gary was executed for the murder of 47-year-old Walter Hinton on November 16, 1994, in Jacksonville, Florida. Gary also confessed to at least five other murders in two other states. All the men were homosexuals.


An official with the Indiana, Department of Corrections has confirmed that the state does not have the necessary drugs needed to carry out an execution. The state currently has eight men on death row, with the last man added in 2013. Indiana ran out of lethal injection drugs in 2014, after which, it changed the lethal injection cocktail. Indiana, like many other states, face problems obtaining new execution drugs, as many drug manufacturers do not want to supply drugs for lethal injection because they do not want to be associated with the procedure. Indiana’s last execution was in 2009.


A state legislator in Ohio has announced that he is working on legislation that would allow the use of fentanyl seized by police officers in drug busts to be used in lethal injections. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine voiced his objection to the idea, saying it would be unlikely to pass “constitutional muster.” Last year, Nebraska used fentanyl, obtained from a pharmacy, to carry out an execution. Ohio has had an unofficial moratoriums on executions since January, when Governor DeWine halted the execution of Warren Henness, after a federal judge expressed concerns regarding the execution protocol in the state. Governor DeWine has since ordered Department of Corrections officials to create a new lethal injection protocol.


Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has released her plan for criminal justice reform, including the abolishment of capital punishment. Many of the Democratic Presidential candidates have expressed similar beliefs; that capital punishment should be abolished in the nation. She also proposes ending the use of solitary confinement, and promises “special protections” for at-risk inmates, such as transgender prisoners. Warren also wants to decriminalize marijuana and end cash bail, as well as, invest in diversion programs.


Ahmad Fawzi Issa, a Jordanian national, was sentenced to death in 1998, in Ohio, or arranging the murder of Maher and Ziad Khriss, in Cincinnati. In 2018, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the sentence and conviction of Ahmad, agreeing that the statements about his involvement in the case was hearsay and violated his right to confront witness against him. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. To avoid a retrial, Ahmad reached a plea deal with prosecutors. As part of the deal, Ahmad plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Ahmad will be released from prison and deported back to Jordan.


In 1986, Paul Browning was sentenced to death for the murder of Hugo Elsen, a jeweler in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the last 33 years, Paul has insisted that he was innocent of the crime which sent him to death row. In 2017, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, “a mixture of disturbing prosecutorial misconduct and woefully inadequate assistance of counsel” led to “extreme malfunctions” at Paul’s trial. In early 2019, District Judge Douglas Herndon ruled, due to multiple witnesses now being deceased, Paul’s chance at “a fair trial consistent with due process is no longer possible.” Paul’s conviction was dismissed, however prosecutors appealed the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court and asked that Judge Herndon’s ruling be postponed. Although the Nevada Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue, Judge Herndon has lifted the hold, meaning Paul is to be freed, and, on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, Paul was released from prison. His mother, brother, and sister-in-law were waiting to greet him with a hug.

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