Thursday, April 17, 2014

Honour killing: Indian HC commutes to life death sentence of three

The Delhi High Court today commuted to life term the death sentence awarded to three members of a family for the honour killing of a teen couple in 2010, saying there is a possibility of their reformation.

A special bench of justices S Muralidhar and Mukta Gupta acquitted two others - the girl's mother and aunt - who also had been awarded capital punishment by the trial court, saying they were only "spectators" to the crime and did not share the common intention to murder the couple.

"The court is of the opinion that ends of justice would be met if convicted appellants Om Prakash and Suraj are awarded the sentence of imprisonment for life which will not be less than 20 years actual. Since, appellant Sanjeev is a young man who was not married, the court considers it fit to sentence him to imprisonment of life subject to remissions.

Source: Business Standard, April 17, 2014

Texas executes Jose Villegas

Jose Villegas
Jose Villegas
Texas executed a man by lethal injection on Wednesday who was convicted of stabbing his girlfriend, her child and her mother to death after a cocaine binge in 2001.

Villegas, a former cook, dishwasher and laborer, was free on bond for a sexual assault charge and was supposed to go on trial the day of the killings for an incident in which a woman said he punched her in the face.

Jose Luis Villegas Jr., 39, was put to death with a lethal dose of drugs at 7:04 p.m. CDT at the Texas death chamber in Huntsville, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

Just as the pentobarbital began taking effect, he said, "It does kind of burn. Goodbye." He gasped several times, then started to breathe quietly. Within less than a minute, all movement had stopped.

"I would like to remind my children once again I love them," Villegas said when asked if he had a statement before being put to death. "Everything is OK. I love you all, and I love my children. I am at peace."

Six relatives of his victims witnessed the execution but declined to comment afterward.

"I was struck by the calm and peacefulness inside that room as opposed to the utter terror the victims must have been in as Jose Luis Villegas stabbed them," Mark Skurka, the Nueces County district attorney who prosecuted Villegas, said after watching the execution.

"He made no attempt to make peace with the family, apologize to the family or show any remorse for taking the lives of three people," Skurka said.

Villegas is the seventh person executed in Texas this year and the 17th in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an organization that tracks executions.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt Villegas' scheduled execution. The high court, on a 5-4 vote, rejected arguments from attorneys for Jose Villegas who said the 39-year-old was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.

The ruling came about 30 minutes after a six-hour window opened for Villegas' lethal injection.

Villegas' lawyers contended testing in February showed he had an IQ of 59, below the IQ of 70 that courts have embraced as a threshold for mental impairment. State attorneys disputed the test result and called it a late attempt to delay the punishment.

Villegas confessed that the day of the killings he had consumed about $200 of cocaine with his 24-year-old girlfriend, Erida Perez Salazar, at the home she shared with her parents, according to court documents.

After her mother, Alma Perez, 51, ordered Villegas to leave the house, he stabbed her dozens of times with a kitchen knife and then proceeded to a bedroom where he stabbed his girlfriend and her son Jacob, 3, numerous times each, according to court records.

Villegas then left the house and drove off in Salazar's vehicle and sold a television he stole from the home to buy more cocaine, according to court documents.

He had planned to return to the house to kill himself with an overdose of cocaine, but tried to flee when he saw police were already there, according to court documents. He was caught by police after a high-speed chase and foot pursuit.

Texas has executed 514 people, more than a third of all executions in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Source: Agencies, April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Iran: Man hanged in Saveh prison

Iran Human Rights, April 16, 2014: One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Saveh (west of Tehran) early this morning, reported the Iranian state media.

According to the official Iranian news agency IRNA, “Gh. Sh.” (41 year old) was convicted of murdering “S. F.” in 2004, and sentenced to qesas (retribution in kind) by the Judiciary.

The report says: “since the daughter of the victim, who was supposed to demand the retribution (execution) was a minor at that time, the execution had not been carried out before. But after reaching 18 she demanded execution of the prisoner and he was executed in the prison of Saveh early this morning”.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemns the Iranian authorities for putting the responsibility of the executions in murder cases on the shoulders on the victims family members who are civilians who already have suffered loosing one of their loved ones.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said: ” This is nothing but promoting a culture of murder and violence. Qesas is an inhumane law where the authorities convert a civilian who has lost a loved one into a murderer”.

Source: Iran Human Rights, April 16, 2014

Saudi beheaded for killing man with machine gun

Public beheading in KSA
Riyadh: The authorities in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday beheaded a citizen convicted of shooting dead a compatriot, the interior ministry said.

Mohammad Matrak Mohammad Al Dosari was found guilty of killing Mubarak Zafir Manahi Al Dossari using a machine gun, the ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.

The killing came after a fist fight over a financial dispute, it said.

His execution in Riyadh brings to 13 the number of death sentences carried out this year in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia beheaded 78 people in 2013, according to an AFP count.

Last year, the UN High Commission for Human Rights denounced a “sharp increase in the use of capital punishment” since 2011 in Saudi Arabia.

According to figures from rights group Amnesty International, the number of Saudi executions rose from 27 in 2010, of whom five were foreigners, to 82 in 2011, including 28 foreigners.

In 2012, the number of executions dipped slightly to 79, among them 27 foreigners.

Rape, murder, apostasy, homosexuality, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 16, 2014

U.S.: Anti-death penalty activists target pharmacists association's ethics code

As some states increasingly turn to compounding pharmacies to provide drugs needed for lethal injections, an online petition seeking to change the American Pharmacists Association’s code of ethics is gaining steam. Activists see it as a way to bring more pressure to bear in their fight to end the death penalty for good.

According to some activists, it’s a sentence that could change everything about the death penalty.

It’s a sentence, activists say, that’s missing from the ethics code of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and the omission is raising serious questions for the organization and the role of the Hippocratic Oath in pharmacists’ work.

An ethics code omission? According to some protesters, led by progressive activist Kelsey Kauffman, part of the difficulty may be with APhA’s ethics code, which—unlike those of other major medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association [PDF]—does not specifically prohibit its members from assisting in executions. While such a code provision would not be legally binding, it could make pharmacists who currently compound lethal injection drugs less willing to do so—if, for example, it would result in their losing their professional certification. 

That’s why the nonprofit petition site SumOfUs has launched a campaign to get the association to add a prohibition to its code. The petition, which argues that “the association could help put a stop to the manufacturing and supplying of drugs used for lethal injections and help end the use of the death penalty in the U.S. once and for all,” has been signed by more than 36,000 people and has gained support from the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and other civil  rights groups.

Source: NOW Associations, April 14, 2014

Iranian killer's execution halted at last minute by victim's parents

The noose is removed from around
the neck of Balal.
Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna
(Source: The Guardian)
When he felt the noose around his neck, Balal must have thought he was about to take his last breath. Minutes earlier, crowds had watched as guards pushed him towards the gallows for what was meant to be yet another public execution in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Seven years ago Balal, who is in his 20s, stabbed 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a street brawl in the small town of Royan, in the northern province of Mazandaran. In a literal application of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim's family were to participate in Balal's punishment by pushing the chair on which he stood.

Hosseinzadeh's mother slaps Balal.
Photos: Arash Khamooshi /Isna
(Source: The Guardian)
But what happened next marked a rarity in public executions in Iran, which puts more people to death than any other country apart from China. The victim's mother approached, slapped the convict in the face and then decided to forgive her son's killer. The victim's father removed the noose and Balal's life was spared.

Photographs taken by Arash Khamooshi, of the semi-official Isna news agency, show what followed. Balal's mother hugged the grieving mother of the man her son had killed. The two women sobbed in each other's arms – one because she had lost her son, the other because hers had been saved.

Many Iranian public figures, including the popular TV sport presenter Adel Ferdosipour, had called on the couple, who have a daughter, to forgive the killer. Although they did so, Balal will not necessarily be freed. Under Iranian law the victim's family have a say only in the act of execution, not any jail sentence.

Source: The Guardian, April 16, 2014

Photos of the aborted execution (source: ISNA)

Related article:
- Iranian man granted mercy by victim's family moments after execution begins, May 9, 2013. (Warning: Graphic Content) A man sentenced to death for murder in Mashad, northeastern Iran, was granted mercy at the very last moment just as he was being hung from the scaffold...

Iraq executed more than 600 Iraqis in 4 years

The Iraqi justice ministry has executed more than 600 "terrorists" in the past four years, the Iraqi justice minister Hassan al-Shimri has said.

Speaking publicly in Al-Nasiriyeh City, Al-Shimri said that his ministry was not famous four years ago. However, he reiterated, it has became known to everyone as a result of the execution of "criminal terrorists." He called this "an achievement" for his ministry.

Al-Shimri noted that the "terrorists" used to completely control the reformatory prisons and run their operations from inside.

The minister said that his ministry has "forcefully" fought "terrorists," brought the prisons under control and prevented any political or religious party from interfering in how his ministry works.

He stressed that executing more than 600 "criminal terrorists" in the past 4 years was an achievement. He was reported saying that the justice ministry has not executed such a huge number since 2003. His ministry ignored calls by a number of Iraqi parliamentarians to cancel the executions based on calls by a number of international organisations.

It is worth mentioning that international human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), have criticised these executions in the past years. In April 2013 HRW accused the Iraqi justice system of failure to meet international standards for fair trials.

"A striking increase in executions in Iraq points to the failure of Iraq's justice system to meet international fair trial standards," the organisation said.

Source: Middle East Monitor, April 15, 2014

Tehran government postpones execution of 26-year-old Rayhaneh Jabbari

The Tehran government has postponed Tuesday’s scheduled execution of a 26-year-old Iranian woman charged with killing a man accused of attempting to rape her.

Following last minute pleas, the regime pushed back the hanging of Rayhaneh Jabbari, who was headed to the gallows on charges that in 2007 she stabbed and killed Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry.

The government announced that the execution will be postponed but did not give any indication the sentence had been overturned. It also did not disclose if any future execution date had been set.

Jabbari, who has already served seven years in prison, claims Sarbandi drugged her and attempted to have physical contact with her.

Activists around the globe have been working tirelessly to prove Jabbari’s innocence and to have her death sentence revoked.

Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations’ special investigator on human rights also spoke up against the execution, stating that Jabbari did not receive a fair trial and that she should be re-tried because she acted out of self-defense.

Source: FOX News, April 15, 2014

Texas candidate faces thorny death penalty choice

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The death penalty is like gun rights in Texas politics: Candidates don't dare get in the way of either. But Republican Greg Abbott, the favorite to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, must soon make a decision as attorney general that could disrupt the nation's busiest death chamber.

It's an election-year dilemma for Abbott. But in Texas, it's one that Democratic rival Wendy Davis can't easily exploit, illustrating how little room there is to maneuver on this issue.

Abbott must soon decide whether to stick with his earlier opinions that Texas must disclose the source of the execution drugs it uses. That revelation could prompt attention-shy suppliers to halt their drug deliveries and stop Texas' executions.

If Abbott holds firm, he'll please death penalty opponents who prison officials say want to target the companies with protests and threats. Reversing course would go against his vows for transparency in government.

"There's no political upside. It puts him in a little bit of a tough position," said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak.

The predicament comes up as Davis, the feisty Fort Worth lawmaker who has attracted national attention, is eager to find ways to shake up the campaign and prevent Abbott from riding a solid lead in the polls to a general election victory in the GOP-dominated state.

But Abbott's difficulty leaves her with few opportunities since portraying the law-and-order attorney general, who has held the position since 2003, as somehow soft on crime would be implausible. Both Abbott and Davis support the death penalty.

Source: Houston Chronicle, April 16, 2014

Jesuit death row chaplain: 'We allow revenge to ruin many lives'

Holding cell, San Quentin Death Chamber
What drew you to this ministry?

How often do we remember that Jesus Christ was arrested, thrown in jail, put on trial, convicted and sentenced to death? That he was given the death penalty and was executed by the state as a common criminal? So was John the Baptist. So were Peter, Paul, James and countless followers of Christ.

How did you get into prison ministry?

When I was a novice making a 30-day Ignatian retreat, the most powerful experience of prayer I had was when, unable to picture Jesus' face in my meditations, I asked him to show me his face. I distinctly remember his reply: "I will show you my face when you are ready to see me."

A few months later, it was time to choose a ministry "experiment." (...) I spent three months at Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk under the supervision of St. Joseph Sr. Maureen Clark. (...) The very first day I was there, she took me to visit the men in the "hole." I remember distinctly walking away from one man's cell after we had been conversing through a narrow slot in his door used to pass food through or to handcuff inmates prior to removing them from their cells. The slot was only about 36 inches from the floor, so I had to crouch or kneel to speak to him. As I walked away, it just hit me -- I had been looking at the face of this man in solitary confinement in prison, and it was through him (and thousands more prisoners to come) that Jesus was showing me his face.

How does our nation's incarceration rate stand in comparison to that of other countries?

The United States of America is now the prison capital of the world. We incarcerate a higher proportion of our population than any other country on Earth.

What really troubles me is what this says about our country and the culture we accept as normal today. What are we saying to the world when we talk about human rights and the dignity of man yet consign so many of our own citizens to prison and, once there, treat them like animals?

What I see every day are men with faces and names and children and memories who suffer greatly from the pains of life in prison. I know several men in our most highly secured unit who have been in what is essentially solitary confinement for over 20 years. Just to put this in perspective, international standards consider more than two weeks in solitary to be akin to torture, if not outright torture. Two weeks. And I know men who have done more than 1,000 weeks.

Source: National Catholic Reporter, April 15, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kansas: Alleged gunman could face hate crime charges

(CNN) - A man suspected of fatally shooting three people at two Jewish-affiliated facilities could be formally charged with hate crimes as early as Tuesday.

Police say Frazier Glenn Cross is the suspect in Sunday's shooting death of a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center near Kansas City, Kan., and then a woman at a nearby Jewish assisted living facility.

The hate crime charges are expected even though the victims were Christian, legal experts say.

For now, Cross faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder, officials said.

Investigators have "unquestionably determined" that his actions were a hate crime, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said.

If the suspected shooter is charged and convicted of a hate crime, under federal law, the death penalty could be on the table. That would apply if the charge is that the defendant was motivated by the victims' "race, color, religion or national origin."

Cross is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Both organizations operated as paramilitary groups in the 1980s, according to the SPLC.

In the 73-year-old's anti-Semitic and white-supremacist activities, he has also used the name Frazier Glenn Miller, the SPLC said.

After he was apprehended at a nearby elementary school, Cross sat in the back of a patrol car and shouted "Heil Hitler!" video from CNN affiliate KMBC shows.

Source: Click2Houston, CNN, April 15, 2014

Let’s Stop Pretending the Death Penalty Is a Medical Procedure

In January the state of Ohio executed the convicted rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire. As in the other 31 U.S. states with the death penalty, Ohio used an intravenously injected drug cocktail to end the inmate's life. Yet Ohio had a problem. The state had run out of its stockpile of sodium thiopental, a once common general anesthetic and one of the key drugs in the executioner's lethal brew. Three years ago the only U.S. supplier of sodium thiopental stopped manufacturing the drug. A few labs in the European Union still make it, but the E.U. prohibits the export of any drugs if they are to be used in an execution.

Ohio's stockpile of pentobarbital, its backup drug, expired in 2009, and so the state turned to an experimental cocktail containing the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. But the executioner was flying blind. Execution drugs are not tested before use, and this experiment went badly. The priest who gave McGuire his last rites reported that McGuire struggled and gasped for air for 11 minutes, his strained breaths fading into small puffs that made him appear “like a fish lying along the shore puffing for that one gasp of air.” He was pronounced dead 26 minutes after the injection.

There is a simple reason why the drug cocktail was not tested before it was used: executions are not medical procedures. Indeed, the idea of testing how to most effectively kill a healthy person runs contrary to the spirit and practice of medicine. Doctors and nurses are taught to first “do no harm”; physicians are banned by professional ethics codes from participating in executions. Scientific protocols for executions cannot be established, because killing animal subjects for no reason other than to see what kills them best would clearly be unethical. Although lethal injections appear to be medical procedures, the similarities are just so much theater.

Source: Scientific American, Editorial, May 1, 2014

UN condemns Brunei over new law allowing gays to be stoned to death

Sultan of Brunei
The United Nations has condemned Brunei for adopting a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

It has long been a crime in Brunei, but the maximum punishment had been a 10-year prison sentence.

However, Brunei, a predominately Muslim state, has now adopted a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for consenting same-sex sexual activity, adultery, rape, extramarital sexual relations, and for declaring oneself to be non-Muslim.

The new penal code will come into effect on 22 April.

“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder are the other offences for which the death penalty could be applied under the revised code.

Noting that Brunei has maintained an effective moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 1957, OHCHR urged the government to establish a formal moratorium and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether.

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” Mr Colville stated.

He added that the criminalisation and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

Hassanal Bolkiah has been the Sultan of Brunei, head of government and state, since 1967.

Brunei gained independence from the UK in 1984.

Source: Pink News, April 15, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

URGENT: Iranian Woman Reyhaneh Jabbari (26) at Imminent Danger of Execution

The 26-year-old Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari might be executed in less than 48 hours. Reyhaneh is sentenced to death for the alleged murder of a former ministry of intelligence officer whom she stabbed in self defense seven years ago. Iran Human Rights urges all countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to use all their channels to stop the execution.

Iran Human Rights, April 13, 2014: Unofficial reports from Iran indicate that the death sentence of the 26 year old Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari can be carried out on Tuesday April 15.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, aged 26, was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. Following her arrest, Reyhaneh Jabbari was held in solitary confinement for two months in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she did not have access to a lawyer or her family. Reyhaneh confessed that to the murder immediately after her arrest, though she did not have a lawyer present at the time she made her confession. She stated that the murder took place in self-defence.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was sentenced to death under qesas (“retribution-in-kind”) by a criminal court in Tehran in 2009. The death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court the same year. Her family was told in March 2014 that the sentence had gone for implementation and unofficial reports indicate that she might be executed on Tuesday.

IHR urges the international community to act immediately in order to stop the execution of Reyhaneh. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR, said: ” International reactions may be the only possibility to save Reyhaneh. We ask all the countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to use all their channels to stop Reyhaneh’s planned execution”.

According to IHR’s annual report on the death penalty at least 687 people were executed in 2013, the highest number in more than 15 years in Iran. So far in 2014 at least 170 people have been executed, 96 being announced by the official reports.

Source: Iran Human Rights, April 13, 2014

Iran: CIA spy escapes death penalty to serve 10 years

An Iranian national charged with spying for the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has escaped the death penalty and will instead serve 10 years behind bars.

On Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Court rejected the death penalty which was issued against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a US resident, by the Islamic Revolutionary Court, said his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizade Tabatabaei.

The lawyer added that his client would still appeal the imprisonment verdict.

On December 17, 2011, Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced that it had arrested the CIA spy of Iranian descent, foiling an intricate American plot to carry out espionage activities in the Islamic Republic.

Mirzaei Hekmati was charged with attempting to infiltrate Iran's intelligence apparatus in an effort to implicate the Islamic Republic in sponsoring terrorism. The defendant had been hired by the CIA in May 2009 to carry out espionage operations in Iran.

In a televised confession broadcast on the Iranian television a day later, Mirzaei Hekmati said he joined the US Army in 2001 and underwent decade-long intelligence training.

He added that he was sent to the US-run Bagram Airbase in eastern Afghanistan and given access to classified intelligence before flying to Tehran.

Hekmati was born in the State of Arizona in southwestern US and joined the Marines after he received his high school diploma, his father said.

Source: PressTV, April 12, 2014

Iran: Man sentenced to have eyes gouged out

Public flogging in Iran.
The Iranian regime's judiciary in city of Isfahan has condemned another man to have his eyes gouged, state-run news agency ISNA reported.

The man has been convicted of deliberately pouring acid on the face of a woman named Massoumeh Ataei which caused her to lose eyesight.

The Iranian regime's judiciary officials have publicly defended the cutting off of hands and feet, the removal of a “defendant’s” eye, and even stoning as very real part of their judicial law.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the head of Iranian regime's 'Human Rights Council', said on April 10: “The problem is that the West does not understand that Qisas (law of retribution) is different from execution. We are not ashamed of stoning or any of the Islamic decrees.

“No one has the right to tell a judge to avert some sentences because the United Nations gets upset. We should firmly and seriously defend the sentence of stoning.”

He also has said: "Retaliation and punishment are beautiful and necessary things. It’s a form of protection for the individual and civil rights of the people in a society. The executioner or the person carrying out the sentence is in fact very much a defender of human rights. One can say that there is humanity in the act of retaliation."

Since Hassan Rouhani, has assumed presidency of the Iranian regime, savage punishments such as the gouging out of eyes and cutting off the hands and feet has continued, and the execution of the political prisoners and prisoners belonging to ethnic and religious minorities has also escalated.

Source: NCRI, April 12, 2014

Iran: Two prisoners hanged in Bandar Abbas Prison

NCRI - Early morning on Sunday, the Iranian regime hangmen in Bandar Abbas Prison in Iran hanged two men, a state-run news agency reported.

The two men were identified by their initials as A.M. and M.A., according to the report by Tasnimnews affiliated to the terrorist Quds Force of the Iranian regime.

The report said "Qisas (law of retribution) was carried out for the two prisners in Bandar Abbas Prison".

The rate of hangings has increased sharply over last year, since Hassan Rouhani, the regime's new president has taken office.

In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said between 500 and 625 people were executed last year, including 57 in public. More than 40 people were executed during the first half of January 2014, he said.

"The new government has not changed its approach regarding the application of the death penalty and seems to have followed the practice of previous administrations, which relied heavily on the death penalty to combat crime," Ban said.

Source: NCRI, April 13, 2014

Oklahoma says it has obtained secret supply of execution drugs

Oklahoma officials on Friday said the state had obtained manufactured pharmaceuticals from a secret supplier for use in the executions of two men later this month, avoiding concerns over the use of compounded drugs but leaving unanswered questions about how it obtained them.

In a letter to defence lawyers, an assistant attorney general, John Hadden, said the state “has recently acquired a manufactured source of vecuronium bromide. That means there will be no compounded drugs used in the executions of your clients. This will resolve the concerns you and your clients have expressed regarding compounded drugs.”

Despite a judge's ruling that a state drug secrecy law violated the inmates' constitutional rights, Hadden declined to identify the supplier of the new drugs.

“This information is irrelevant to your clients and disclosure could lead to harassment or intimidation which will have a chilling effect on the state's ability to acquire these drugs for future executions,” Hadden wrote.

Oklahoma plans to execute Clayton Lockett on 22 April and Charles Warner on 29 April. Both were convicted of murder and rape.

Source: The Guardian, April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

USA Violates International Law by Executing Mexican Citizen

The United States has once again violated international law, with its execution of Mexican citizen Ramiro Hernandez, who was denied the consular attention included in a Vienna convention, the United Nations charged today.

"Mr. Hernandez did not have consular access, established in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention for Consular Affairs," OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told the press.

Colville recalled that in 2004 at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a resolution noting that the United States should review and reconsider the cases of 51 Mexicans sentenced to death, including the case of Hernandez, since they had not received the required assistance.

"Under international law, the violation of the right to consular notification affects due process, so, we are witnessing a new case of arbitrary deprivation of life by a signing country, since 1992, of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights", Colville highlighted.

The spokesperson said Wednesday's execution, which took place in Texas was regrettable.

This is the 16th time the United States has applied the death penalty this year; the 6th in Texas. The U.N. opposes this punishment under any circumstance, but even more so in the recent case due to the aforementioned violations, Colville stressed.

Source:, April 11, 2014

Texas: Skinner transcripts received by attorneys

Defense attorneys requesting extension to 21-day deadline.

Attorneys with the state Attorney General's Office and convicted murderer Hank Skinner's defense team say they have received copies of the court transcripts from Skinner's evidentiary hearing in Gray County on Feb. 3 and 4.

Receipt of the transcripts triggers a 21-day period for attorneys to file their findings from the witness testimony back to the 31st District Court.

Lauren Been, a spokeswoman for the AG's Office, said both sides are required to respond.

Skinner, who is on death row for the brutal murders of Pampa resident Twila Busby and her 2 adult sons on New Year's Day 1993, is being represented by attorneys Douglas Robinson and Robert Owen. If District Judge Steven Emmert rules favorably for Skinner, his attorneys could seek an appeal.

Emmert does not have a deadline to file his decision, but his bailiff, Wayne Carter, said the judge wants to move along quickly with the case.

A spokeswoman from Robinson and Owen's office in Washington D.C. said Thursday they are waiting for a few exhibits from the court and are requesting the court to extend the filing deadline to May 30.

Skinner was not at the hearing in which both sides presented evidence from a series of recent DNA tests.

Skinner's original attorney, Harold Comer of Pampa, did not seek DNA testing at the time of his original trial, partly out of his concern that the results would have implicated his client.

According to Skinner's attorneys, new DNA test results support the inference that Busby's uncle, Robert Donnell, who made sexual advances to Busby on the night of the killings, committed the crimes and not Skinner.

The AG's office maintains that DNA and crime scene evidence overwhelmingly point to Skinner as the killer.

Source: The Pampa News, April 11, 2014