"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." Oscar Wilde

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bali 9: Myuran Sukumaran awarded fine art degree

Myuran Sukumaran in front of self-portrait.
Bali 9 ringleader Myuran Sukumaran has been awarded an Associate Degree in Fine Art from Curtin University in Perth just days before he is expected to die.

He deserves this in so many ways and for so many reasons

Sukumaran was due to finish his Bachelor of Fine Arts, which he was completing via correspondence from Kerobokan prison in Bali, by the end of this year.

"It's just so unreal," Ben Quilty said of the degree awarded to Sukumaran.

His friend and mentor, Archibald prize winning artist Ben Quilty wrote last month that Sukumaran's mother, Raji, was worried that the pressure of an imminent firing squad would prevent "Myu" finishing his degree this year.

"She has worried more in the past 10 years than most mothers worry in a lifetime," Mr Quilty wrote in Fairfax Media.

"I told her that as long as he is allowed to live, nothing will stop Myuran Sukumaran."

Now Curtin University has confirmed that Sukumaran has already accrued enough points to be awarded an Associate Degree in Fine Art.

Mr Quilty said Curtin University was couriering the associate degree to him on Friday.

"It's just unreal, it's so unreal," Mr Quilty said.

"I really do think he'll be the 1st of quite a few people who will get qualifications like this through that art room [at Kerobokan jail]."

The Associate Degree comes as Sukumaran and Andrew Chan await their transferral to Nusakambangan island in Java, where they could be shot within days.

Mr Quilty, who along with Melbourne artist Matthew Sleeth conducts regular workshops at the jail, said he was initially sceptical when Sukumaran proposed commencing a Fine Art degree.

"To be quite honest, I thought that was a highly difficult thing to be taking on under the circumstances."

He said Sukumaran's achievement would inspire others who attended the classes at Kerobokan jail, who already look up to the Australian.

"Hopefully they'll continue with what he has started no matter what happens. I know that's what he wants."

Mr Quilty said that every time he taught in the prison 4 to 5 ex-inmates attended the classes. He used to think it weird that people would willingly return to prison but now understands the transformative power of what Sukumaran had instigated in the prison.

"Now I think" 'Myuran, you are so f-----g extraordinary'. He deserves this in so many ways and for so many reasons."

On Friday paramilitary authorities in Bali carried out a frightening re-enactment of their highly militarised transfer, involving handcuffed prisoners and armoured tanks.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, February 28, 2015

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Singapore: Landmark decision on death penalty sparks legal debate

Singapore Changi Prison
When it comes to a murderer, how brutal must he be to warrant the death penalty?

In a landmark decision last month, judges were divided on this point - deciding in the end by 3 to 2 that convicted killer Kho Jabing, 31, will hang.

The decision sparked keen discussion among the legal fraternity, who noted that while it did provide some guidelines on when the death penalty should be upheld, these may not be enough.

Kho's was the 1st murder case to reach the Court of Appeal since new laws kicked in 2 years ago, giving judges more sentencing discretion for murder and drug-trafficking offences, as an alternative to mandatory hanging.

In 2008, Kho, a Sarawakian rag-and-bone man, bludgeoned a construction worker repeatedly with a branch while trying to rob him.

The decision of the nation's highest court last month hinged on what three of the judges said was the "sheer savagery and brutality" Kho had displayed. In essence, the act "outraged the feelings of the community", which justified the death penalty.

The 2 dissenting judges, however, were not convinced there was enough evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Kho had struck the victim 3 or more times, or with such force as to cause the man's fatal skull fractures.

Said Singapore Management University don Chandra Mohan, a former district judge, writing in a law blog: "As the dissenting judgments have demonstrated, differences in the findings of facts as to whether the accused had shown a blatant disregard for life, the manner in which he had done so, and considerations of the relevance of the 'other circumstances' could well lead to inconsistencies in sentencing.

"Hopefully, future judgments of the Appeals Court will help to curb such inconsistencies."

Law graduate Grace Morgan argued in daily legal news service Singapore Law Watch that the court's assertion that the killer's brutal acts "outraged the feelings of the community" raised the question of what kind of outrage was needed to warrant the death penalty. Ms Morgan, who is a pupil at law firm Rodyk and Davidson, said it would be difficult to decide whether, for instance, 3 blows by the accused would cause enough outrage, rather than 2.

A more precise alternative could be whether the offender acted in such a way that it "shocks the conscience", she suggested. A killer who cuts up his victim's body could be one such example.

She argued this would pitch the standard slightly higher than the current test, and would lessen some of the difficulties involved in trying to find the "precise level of moral culpability in borderline cases such as this (Kho Jabing) case".

Criminal lawyer James Masih pointed out that the court's decision was based on the facts of one particular case, and that each case was different. The law would become clearer as more rulings were made, he said.

Ultimately, though, there would be no hard and fast rules as each decision would depend on the facts of a particular case.

Said Associate Professor Mohan: "Unfortunately, the devil may still lie in the details."

Kho's lawyer Anand Nalachandran is currently preparing his appeal for clemency to the President.

Source: Asia One, February 28, 2015

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Four executed in Iran

Public hanging in Iran (file photo)
3 prisoners were hanged in the prison of Ardebil (Northwestern Iran).

According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Ardebil Province, the prisoners were convicted of drug trafficking and were arrested while transferring 27 kilograms of heroin out of the country.

Due to lack of transparency in Iran's Judiciary, the charges have not been confirmed by independent sources.

Source: Iran Human Rights, February 28, 2015


A man hanged in Tabas

A man hanged in a prison in city of Tabas in Iran. The prisoner had been arrested 3 years ago.

Mehdi Fatahi was hanged early morning on Wednesday in the main prison in the city.

Fatahi was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug related offences but he was sentenced to death by an appeal court.

On the same day two other prisoners were hanged in public in the western city of Kermanshah.

The 2 men were hanged in 2 locations in the city at 10 in the morning local time.

According to the reports received from various sources dozens of prisoners have been hanged during the past weekend alone in prisons across Iran.

Source: NCR-Iran, February 28, 2015

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Bali Nine: Joko Widodo 'open to views on executions,' says Jakarta's governor

Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Kerobokan, Bali: Jakarta's governor has told an Indonesian media outlet that the country's President Joko Widodo is "considering different views" on the death penalty, including advice that it should be removed from Indonesia's laws.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, was Mr Joko's deputy for two years at city hall, and succeeded Mr Joko as governor when he became president.

Visiting a prison in Jakarta on Saturday, Ahok revealed he had told the president he believes the death penalty should be removed from Indonesia's laws and replaced with life in jail without remission.

"If from inside (jail) they're still controlling drugs, then execute them immediately that day," Ahok was quoted by local news website detik.com as saying.

"But if people want to change, give them a chance to live. Maybe he can make other people more aware instead of punishing him with death ... I don't agree with the death penalty."

The governor's comments come days away from the planned transfer of Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan to the island where Indonesia is set to execute them, together with eight other drug offenders.

Bali's chief prosecutor has said they could be taken from their cells in Kerobokan as soon as Sunday and taken to one of several jails on Nusakambangan, known as Indonesia's Alcatraz.

The head of Central Java corrections, Ahmad Yaspahruddin, also confirmed to Fairfax that Nusakambangan would be ready to accept prisoners today.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, March 1, 2015 (local time)


Widodo's mate begs him to show mercy

Tony Abbott, Joko Widodo
Indonesian President Joko Widodo's close friend and current Jakarta Governor has delivered a strong anti death penalty argument to the President saying he disagrees with the death penalty for drug traffickers because they can change and be rehabilitated.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, conveyed his views to the President, whom he says is careful and considerate when it comes to taking advice and making decisions.

Ahok was the President's deputy governor for 2 years when Jokowi, as he is known, was the Governor of Jakarta.

The pair are known to be close and Ahok's advice adds significant weight to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran's bid to be spared the firing squad because of their remarkable rehabilitation in jail.

Ahok, a powerful figure in Jakarta, reportedly made the comments on Saturday during a visit to the Pondok Bambu Prison in East Jakarta.

Chan and Sukumaran, who have reformed and set up a series of rehabilitation programs inside Kerobokan jail in Bali, face imminent execution after the President rejected their clemency pleas and ordered the execution of all drug traffickers.

The central point of their clemency and an appeal in a Jakarta court is that their rehabilitation should be taken into account when considering their bid for a pardon

"I do not agree with the death sentence. They have an opportunity to be a better person," Ahok said of convicted drug criminals, quoted by Indonesian newspaper Kompas.

He told reporters that the sentence for drug criminals should be a life sentence without remission and they should be tightly supervised.

Ahok said that the death sentence only deserved to be given to criminals nabbed for consuming drugs in jail.

"If they still control drugs inside (the prison), they should be executed directly on that day. But if they want to change, give (them) the opportunity to live. Maybe he or she can help other people's awareness of their faults rather than executing them," Ahok said.

Ahok said he did not agree with the death penalty for drugs but agreed if it was a sadistic murderer.

"This is my opinion about human rights. I delivered it to Mr President. I know that he is careful and correct in listening to all suggestions. This is my experience with him," Ahok said.

He did not elaborate on the President's response to his suggestion.

The strong anti death penalty comments come as President Widodo reportedly said the executions of Chan and Sukumaran would go ahead despite his conversation last week with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

"Our position is clear. Our laws cannot be interfered with," the President told Jakarta business newspaper Kontan in answer to a question about the Abbott phone call.

Mr Abbott had earlier said that his Indonesian counterpart was "carefully considering" his position.

Chan and Sukumaran were on Saturday visited in jail by their families as their fate hangs in the balance. They are among 10 drug traffickers, 9 of them foreigners, who face imminent execution on Nusa Kambangan prison island, off the coast of Central Java.

While paramilitary police held a dress rehearsal of their transfer from Bali to Java on Friday, the Attorney General has yet to set a date for their move and execution.

Source: news.com.au, February 28, 2015

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ISIS releases images showing another 'gay man' being thrown off roof and stoned to death in Syria

Man being thrown off a roof and stoned to
death for being gay in Syria.
Islamic State (ISIS) has released images appearing to show another man being thrown off a roof and stoned to death for being gay in Syria.

Last month ISIS released extremely graphic images of the execution of two men for being gay in Mosul, Iraq, and earlier this month posted video of an similar incident in Tal Abyad, Syria.

The group has now posted images of another execution in Raqqah, Syria.

In the images, a man is thrown off a roof blindfolded, with his hands and feet bound.

A large crowd gathered below the area to pelt his body with rocks.

According to the Mail, the man had been accused of committing ‘acts of Sodomy’, and was referred to as a ‘Child of Lot’.

Most of the images are too graphic to display on PinkNews, showing the man’s body amid a mound of rubble.

In addition to men in the crowd, women in niqabs can be seen watching the execution in some of the unpublished pictures. It is unusual for women to be allowed to attend a public execution.

Source: PinkNews, February 28, 2015

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Saudi Arabia Beheads Indian, Pakistani nationals

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded an Indian axe murderer and a Pakistani heroin trafficker, bringing to 34 the number of death sentences carried out this year.

Vijay Kumar Saleem, of India, was convicted of killing a Yemeni by striking him in the head with the axe, an interior ministry statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

The attack took place after a dispute at the farm where they worked, it said, adding that Saleem was executed in Riyadh.

"Investigations led to his confession and he was tried and found guilty," a separate interior ministry statement said.

The Pakistani city of Karachi is a key transit point for heroin from Afghanistan.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Gulf has become an increasingly important market for illicit drugs in recent years.

The Saudi government says it "is committed to fighting drugs of all kinds due to the physical and social harm they cause".

It also says the death penalty in murder cases aims "to maintain security and realise justice".

Drug trafficking, rape, murder, homosexuality, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the Gulf kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Amnesty International said in its annual report released on Wednesday that death sentences are often imposed "after unfair trials".

The London-based watchdog said some defendants claimed to have been tortured or "otherwise coerced or misled into making false confessions" before trial.

According to an AFP count, the kingdom executed 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013.

Source: AFP, February 27, 2015

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Friday, February 27, 2015

French national Serge Atlaoui 'not a drug user, not a trafficker, not a drug baron': French Ambassador

Serge Atlaoui: "Not a drug user, not a trafficker"
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - French Ambassador Corinne Breuze said the death sentence and a threat of execution of a Frenchman in Indonesia has been received as a disturbing news in France.

"The report is greatly disturbing for the French people as since 1981, no French citizen has been punished with death either in France or abroad," Breuze told a news conference at the French embassy here on Thursday.

Therefore, all people of France including its government gave support to the family of Serge Atlaoui, the Frenchman, who was given a death penalty for cases of ecstasy factory.

"Serge Atlaoui is not a user, a dealer or the owner of the drug factory. We hope the law authorities give a serious attention to his bid for a review (PK) of the sentence and could give a fair decision," the ambassador said.

Meanwhile PK on the case of Atlaoui has been submitted to the Tangerang District Court on February 10, 2015 and the court would hold a session on the PK request on 11 March, 2015.

Atlaoui's team of lawyers led by Nancy Yuliana said the court of justice could have erred in making the decision in earlier court sessions.

Serge Atlaoui was given the death penalty by the Supreme Court in 2007.

Earlier the district court of Tangerang declared Atlaoui was involved in the operation of Asia's largest ecstasy factory located in Cikande, regency of Serang, Banten.

The District Court in 2006 gave him a life sentence and the sentence was confirmed by the Banten high court in 2007, but the Supreme Court gave him the death penalty.

Atlaoui is one of the convicts to face the firing squad after their appeals for clemency were rejected by President Joko Widodo.

The attorney general office said 11 convicts including 8 drug convicts and three pre-medidated murders would be the next to be executed.

The 8 drug convicts are Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from Australia, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso from the Philippines, Martin Anderson from Ghana, Raheem Agbaje Salami from Spain, Rodrigo Gularte from Brazil and Zainal Abidin from Indonesia.

The thee murder convicts are Syfial Iyen bin Azwar, Harun bin Ajis and Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi -- all Indonesians.

Last month six other drug convicts were executed drawing strong protest from a number of countries.

Among the strongest protesting countries are Brazil, Australia and the Netherlands.

The Brazilian government rejected credentials of new Indonesian ambassador and Indonesian reacted by ordering the ambassador to return home.

Australia reminded Indonesia of its humanitarian aid for Aceh tsunami in 2004 in bid to safe the life of the two Australian to face the execution.

The Netherlands recalled its ambassador.

Indonesia, however, remains adamant and President Joko Widodo has said he would not give clemency for drug convicts.

Source: AntaraNews, February 26, 2015

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chan and Sukumaran urged to accept reality

Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran
Bali's head ombudsman says Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran should accept the reality that authorities are determined to execute them.

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are keeping their spirits up even as authorities around them say they should come to terms with Indonesia's determination to execute them soon.

Kerobokan jail governor Sudjonggo says the men, who are the driving forces behind his prison's successful rehabilitation programs, are faring well.

He says he has no word on when they will be transferred to Nusakambangan, the island Indonesia is preparing for the executions of the Bali Nine pair and eight other drug offenders.

"I don't know yet when they're going to be transferred," he told reporters on Thursday.

"I'm not seeing them packing yet either. Myuran's paintings are still in the studio."

Bali's head ombudsman Umar Ibnu Alkhatab inspected the prison on Thursday and found all was running normally, albeit with "special attention" to the Australians.

"We also met Andrew and Myuran," he told reporters.

"They said that they have shared their knowledge and experience.

"Psychologically, they're ready, in good health.

"I think they should accept reality."

On Nusakambangan, building work was going on to remedy the lack of isolation cells and other facilities to handle the executions of 10 prisoners at once.

Media are not allowed on the central Java island, but even from afar it is obvious a large new building has been constructed behind the police station in the past week.

Attorney-General HM Prasetyo has confirmed that 10 will face the firing squad as soon as preparations are complete, but he has not named them all.

There are 10 drug offenders on death row, with the confirmation that another Nigerian man, Okwudili Oyatanze, has been denied presidential clemency.

According to media reports, he and three others were caught smuggling heroin into Jakarta in 2001.

President Joko Widodo wishes to deny all death row drug offenders clemency, believing it's a good shock tactic in the war against narcotics.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke to Mr Joko by phone on Wednesday night regarding the condemned Australians, and described the conversation as positive.

Mr Joko has also spoken with leaders of France, Brazil, and the Netherlands regarding their citizens facing the death penalty, but has maintained it's the republic's sovereign right to carry out its laws.

Lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran are planning a legal appeal and argue it would be unjust to execute them in the meantime.

Source: SBS.com.au, AAP, Feb. 27, 2015 (local time)

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Asian sentenced to death for raping child in Abu Dhabi; Kuwaiti jailed 10 years for killing 'lazy' maid

A court of appeals in Abu Dhabi upheld a previous court ruling and sentenced an Asian cleaner to death after he was convicted of raping a 7-year-old school girl.

Police had arrested the cleaner at the school following a report by the girl’s parents that he forced her into the kitchen where he works and raped her.

He then threatened to kill her if she tells anyone at school or home. But her mother discovered the crime when the girl went home and changed her school dress.

“Her mother and aunt noticed there was blood in her clothes…after pressing her, the scared girl told her mother what happened,” Emirat Alyoum daily said.

The defendant had appealed the death sentence on the grounds he confessed to the crime under duress. 

The appeals court dismissed his claims and sentenced him to death. It also rejected a demand by the victim’s family for Dh5 million damages from the school and referred the case to the civilian court.

Source: Emirates 24/7, February 26, 2015


Kuwaiti beats maid to death... as punishment

Jailed 10 years for killing her

A Kuwaiti criminal court sentenced a local man to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of beating his Asian housemaid to death.

Police had arrested the man on suspicion that he was responsible for the disappearance of his maid, the Arabic language daily 'Al Watan' said.

Investigation showed that the man was behind her death after the discovery of her body, which was buried in a nearby area.

The paper said the man confessed to occasionally beating his maid with the help of his wife on the grounds she was lazy.

“He told court that he wanted to punish the maid and that he did not intend to kill her,” the paper said without mentioning making any reference to the man’s wife.

Source: Emirates 24/7, February 24, 2015

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Jakarta Globe Editorial: Okay, Mr. Tough Guy. We Get It. Now Stop.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo
What will be the exit strategy for Indonesia to extract itself from the diplomatic mess our leaders and countrymen’s insistence on executing foreign citizens for drug trafficking has caused? There’s no way out in sight, unless the executions stop.

With a total of 58 foreign nationals on death row, Indonesia is going to face increasingly intense and coordinated diplomatic protests from other nations, such as France, Britain and China, if the government insists on proceeding with all of the executions.

These countries will lodge protests because their governments will look bad domestically if they don’t go after Indonesia. There is a strong risk that relations can be harmed to such an extent as to disrupt trade and investment, as well as endanger Indonesia’s own citizens abroad.

The execution of foreign citizens is not merely about those sentenced to death: It’s also about the pride of all their countrymen. Heads of state and their diplomatic corps have a moral duty to defend the human rights of their citizens, an obligation that plays out in public for their own popularity.

Sadly, similar pride and vanity has also taken hold of President Joko Widodo, who is attempting now to look tough in the midst of a leadership crisis.

People on death row will be shot for the sake of macho posturing. Our national standing is at stake, and pressing forward with a cruel and unusual punishment, by international standards, is no way to advance our interests in the world.

Joko should consider how far he wants to pursue this course of action before it gets out of control. Now’s the time to stop without losing face. Message delivered, Mr. President. We get it, the whole world does: You mean business. Now knock it off.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, Editorial, Feb. 25, 2015


Families beg for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s lives on Indonesian TV

Maximum Security prison on Nusakambangan Island, central Java
The pressure on President Widodo to show mercy continues as the head of Bali Prosecutor’s office, who is in charge of arranging the transfer to Nusa Kambangan, said that there was still no date for the transfer or the executions of the Bali Nine ringleaders.

He said Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran would be transferred to Nusa Kambangan as soon as the prison island was ready.

“As soon as they ready, we send. We are ready. Soon. The sooner the better,” Momock Bambang Samiarso said at his office this morning.

“There is no delay. We keep going. Maybe the delay is because of technical issue. There is no political issue,” he said.

It came as a glimmer of hope emerged in the pending executions of Chan and Sukumaran with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indonesian President Joko Widodo discussing the issue last night.

And Mr Samiarso, asked if the move could be this month, said: “Everything is possible. Everything remains possible.”

“If all the things are clear, we will send. That's all. We keep coordinating with the Attorney General, with Nusa Kambangan, always coordinate” Mr Samiarso said.

He said the preparations, including the military and police, were to cater for any possibility or threat.

Meanwhile, the correction division head of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry in Central Java, Yuspahruddin, said he anticipates the new isolation cells on the island will be ready in two or three days.

“The preparation is only by building partitions, so that other prisoners cannot communicate with prisoners being isolated,” Mr Yuspahruddin said.

Asked how many isolation cells were being built, said: “We cannot explain. It is enough to fulfill the demand of the lawyer general.”

The Attorney General said yesterday that 10 prisoners will be executed in the next round of executions but he did not give any date. The 10 include nine foreigners and one Indonesian — all drug traffickers.

The Prime Minister this morning said it was a “positive sign” the pair were able to speak frankly about the issue and said he believed President Widodo was “carefully considering” his position.

“It was a positive sign that the conversation took place,” Mr Abbott told the media this morning in Canberra.

“The fact that the President of Indonesia and the Prime Minister of Australia can have these conversations is a sign of the strength of the relationship and a sign of the depth of the friendship between Australia and Indonesia.”

Mr Abbott said President Widodo “absolutely understands our position” that the executions should be halted.

“I think he is carefully considering Indonesia’s position,” he said.

Click here to read the full article

Source: news.com.au, February 26, 2015

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We stand for mercy: Australia's top legal minds sign petition calling for clemency for Chan and Sukumaran

More than 140 of Australia's leading law professors, deans and academics have signed a petition pleading with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to use his constitutional powers to spare the lives of the Bali 9 pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

In ultimately deciding on clemency we believe the Indonesian Government should give the strongest consideration to the remarkable rehabilitation history of the 2 condemned.

Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sydney, Mark Findlay, said the response from the legal fraternity over the past 24 hours has been "astonishing in its commitment and its concern".

"We are not lecturing the Indonesians, but rather we want to commend their prison system which seems to have assisted in the remarkable rehabilitation of our 2 fellow citizens," he said.

The petition says the academics seek the Indonesian president's mercy, "not as critics of Indonesia, or its legal system, nor of Indonesia's right to take the strong but ultimately humane action against drug traffickers who bring misery and addiction to many".

"While opposing capital punishment as cruel and inhuman we also condemn the exploitation which the drug trade represents," the petition says.

The academics say the Republic of Indonesia has earned growing respect and approval among the international community for its demonstrated commitment to protecting human rights, and has made an important contribution to human rights protection globally as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"President Widodo himself has been a strong advocate for human rights, with the advancement of human rights a central plank in his 2014 presidential election campaign," the academics say.

"The deaths of Chan and Sukumaran would be a tragedy for them, and their families, while not addressing the underlying causes of the drug trade in Indonesia.

"In contrast, sparing the lives of these 2 young men, who have demonstrated remorse for their crimes and have been rehabilitated during their lengthy imprisonment, would be a signal of strength and mercy, an affirmation of President Widodo's deep commitment to human rights.

"Presidential clemency would serve as a turning point and opportunity for Indonesia to achieve its overriding national interest - combating the drug trade. It would do so by being a rallying call for Australia and other countries in the region to develop and implement an effective regime to stamp out the damaging drug trafficking trade once for all."
Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran

The petition includes the following statement signed by more than 140 academics:

"As lawyers, concerned academics and professionals, we join to speak out against the impending and tragic execution of our fellow citizens in Indonesia. We do not see this punishment as either an issue of national sovereignty or of just desserts.

"The Australian police gave up these 2 men to a capital punishment jurisdiction as part of an operation which could have led to prosecutions and trials in Australia where the death penalty is not an option.

"Capital punishment is said to be qualified by mercy. In ultimately deciding on clemency we believe the Indonesian Government should give the strongest consideration to the remarkable rehabilitation history of the 2 condemned. In opposing these executions we are not seeking to criticise the judicial process of another country.

"However, we want to see justice tempered with humanity. Right-minded Australians share the abhorrence of misery and addiction associated with drug abuse and the shameful trafficking trade. That said, nothing in our view can justify the killing of 2 men in circumstances such as these. At this final hour we add our voices to the calls for the death sentences to be commuted and for Australia and Indonesia to join in other ways to fight the harmful health consequences of drug abuse in all its forms."

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 2015

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Saudi Arabia beheads Jordanian national for drug trafficking

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has beheaded a Jordanian on charges of drug trafficking, bringing to 32 the number of executions carried out in the kingdom in the first 2 months of 2015.

The convicted Jordanian drug smuggler, identified as Omar Mohammed Abdul Muti al-Rubai, was beheaded in the northwestern al-Jawf region, on Wednesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.

The execution was carried out after the convict allegedly confessed to trying to smuggle a large amount of amphetamines across the northern Jordan-Saudi border.

This is while the increasing number of executions in Saudi Arabia has drawn growing concern on the international stage. Riyadh carried out the death penalty against 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013.

The country has come under particular criticism from rights groups for the executions carried out for non-fatal crimes.

According to the London-based rights group Amnesty International's annual report on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia imposes death sentences "after unfair trials."

Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia, which has one of the highest execution rates in the world, has tortured or "otherwise coerced or misled [defendants] into making false confessions" before trial.

Muslim clerics have also slammed Riyadh for indicting and then executing suspects without giving them a chance to defend themselves.

Saudi authorities say the beheadings reveal the Saudi government's commitment to "maintaining security and realizing justice."

The execution "is committed to fighting drugs of all kinds due to the physical and social harm they cause," the Saudi government added.

Rape, murder, apostasy, homosexuality, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi rule.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Feb. 25, 2015

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two prisoners hanged in public in Kermanshah, Iran

(File photo)
NCRI - As the executions of prisoners continue unabated in Iran, the clerical regime’s henchmen hang two other prisoners in public in the western city of Kermanshah.

The two men were hanged in two locations in the city at 10:00 in the morning local time on Wednesday.

The public hanging follows executions in several prisons in cities across Iran, few of which have been officially announced.

According to the reports received from various sources dozens of prisoners have been hanged during the past weekend alone in prisons across Iran.

Official news websites reported that four prisoners have been hanged on Sunday in city of Arak and another prisoner has been hanged on Tuesday morning in the main prison in the city of Rasht.

Source: NCRI, Feb. 25, 2015


4 men hanged in Arak

4 prisoners hanged in the main prison in the city of Arak on Tuesday, the judiciary's website in the Central Province has announced.

The prisoners were only identified by their 1st name and last name initials as Mohammad M., Ehsan J., Amirhossien Gh, and Reza Z.

The 4 men all had been charged with drug related offences.

According to the information received from various sources in Iran on over 2 dozen prisoners being executed in a number of prisons across Iran in past few days.

Last week, the Iranian regime's henchmen in the central prison in the city of Orumiyeh hanged at least 2 political prisoners.

Habibullah Afshari, 26 and his brother Ali Afshari, 34, hanged on Thursday, had been sentenced to death for supporting Komala, an Iranian Kurdish opposition group.

They were among the group of 6 political prisoners including Saman Naseem who were transferred to isolation on Wednesday. There is no information on the fate of the other prisoners.

Source: NCRI, Feb. 25, 2015

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Nevada death penalty costs reflect U.S. trends

When Nevada lawmakers were informed in November that death penalty cases in the state cost $532,000 more on average than other murder cases from arrest through the end of incarceration, the findings were consistent with other studies pushed by anti-death penalty advocates. The financial hit taken by taxpayers has become 1 of the central arguments death penalty foes have used in recent years in an effort to have states overturn that form of punishment.

A search of the Internet turns up little in the way of arguments that refute the cost studies, even though the majority of states have death penalty laws that continue to be defended by victims' rights organizations.

There are 18 states without the death penalty. Michigan has been on that list the longest, having been without a death penalty since 1846, while Maryland was last to join this group in 2013.

Nevada is among the other 32 states with the death penalty, with April 2006 being the last time the punishment was applied in this state. That's when lethal injection was used on Daryl Mack, a 47-year-old inmate who initially was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1994 strangulation death of one woman in northern Nevada. He was then given the death penalty when he was later convicted while in prison for the 1988 murder of another woman in Reno.

The report from Nevada's Legislative Auditor based its cost estimates by sampling 28 cases. Cases where the defendant was sentenced to death but not executed averaged $1,307,000, compared to $1,202,000 where prosecutors sought the death penalty but didn't get one, $1,032,000 when execution occurred, and $775,000 when the death penalty wasn't sought by prosecutors.

"Case costs, incorporating the trial and appeal phases, averaged about 3 times more for death penalty versus non-death penalty cases," the report concluded.

"For incarceration costs, the death penalty is the most expensive sentence for those convicted of 1st degree murder, but only slightly higher when compared to those sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Costs for these 2 sentences largely mirror one another because incarceration periods are similar considering 'involuntary' executions are extremely infrequent."

The Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that opposes the death penalty, posted on its website the Nevada report and similar studies from other states. Among the other findings:

--A Seattle University study released in January found that death penalty cases in Washington state cost $1 million more on average than similar cases where the death penalty wasn't sought.

--A 2014 report from the Kansas Legislature's Judicial Council concluded that defending a death penalty case in that state costs 4 times as much as defending a case where the death penalty isn't pursued.

--The Idaho Legislature's Office of Performance Evaluations reported last year that the State Appellate Public Defenders office spent almost 8,000 hours per capital defendant compared to 180 hours per non-death penalty defendant.

--A study published in the University of Denver Criminal Law Review in 2013 found that capital proceedings in Colorado require 6 times more days in court and take much longer to resolve than life without parole cases.

--The Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review published a study in 2011 concluding that if the governor of California commuted the sentences of death row inmates to life without parole, the state would save $170 million a year and $5 billion over the next 20 years.

The nonprofit website ProCon.org of Santa Monica, Calif., which strives to promote critical thinking by providing pro and con arguments on dozens of controversial topics, posed the question of whether the death penalty costs less than life in prison without parole. The vast majority of respondents said they believed death penalty cases cost far more than those involving life in prison without parole.

One of the few respondents in the minority was Tennessee lawyer Chris Clem, who was quoted by the website as saying: "Executions do not have to cost that much. We could hang them and reuse the rope. No cost! Or we could use firing squads and ask for volunteer firing squad members who would provide their own guns and ammunition. Again, no cost."

Florida attorney Gary Beatty, in a 1997 article posted on the website of the conservative/libertarian Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., stated:

"The overwhelming majority of citizens of Florida, as in the rest of the nation, support the death penalty. To claim that when citizens are educated about the high fiscal cost of administering the death penalty they always opt for life imprisonment is intellectually dishonest. If the multiple layers of appeal are pursued in an ethical and fiscally responsible manner, execution is less costly than warehousing a murderer for life. Any increased cost is caused by death penalty opponents."

Source: KLAS TV news, Feb. 24, 2015

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PNG government defends death penalty as new guidelines approved

The Papua New Guinea government has defended its decision to reinstate the death penalty as the country prepares to execute 13 prisoners before the end of the year.

Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, secretary for the Department of Justice and attorney-general, said people had had enough of serious crime and perpetrators should die for their crimes.

"In this country we have very strong support for the implementation of the death penalty," Mr Kalinoe told the ABC's Radio Australia." For example, one of the (radio) talkback shows I went to, 33 people called. Of the 33, 3 opposed the death penalty, 30 of them fully supported the government's role, to actually offer to be the executioner.

"That's how serious the citizens of this country are, serious in trying to make this place, a just safe and secure society."

Mr Kalinoe's comments came after the government approved new guidelines for the implementation of death penalty.The death penalty has not been used in PNG for more than 50 years, but was re-enacted last year when the law was amended to include more offences. The National Executive Council then approved 3 modes of execution - lethal injection, firing squad and hanging.

Since then, 13 people have been waiting on death row, but lack of infrastructure has meant there has been no method to enact the capital punishment. Recent reports suggest both Indonesia and Thailand have stepped in with offers of financial assistance and expertise. Mr Kalinoe said the government wanted to make the country safer in re-enacting the death penalty.

"Papua New Guinea, in particular Port Moresby, is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities of the world," he said. "That's a label that us Papua New Guineans live with, sometimes we're very embarrassed ... what a beautiful country but our reputation, fairly or unfairly, has gotten ahead of us, making this place a very unsafe sort of a place to live in.

"One of [the government's aims] was to strengthen police, strengthen the law and justice sector and implement whatever laws we need to implement." 

Last week the Archbishop of the PNG Catholic Church, John Ribat, spoke out against the death penalty and called for more community discussion on the matter.

The crimes in PNG that could attract the death penalty for those convicted included: treason, piracy, wilful murder, aggravated rape, robbery involving violence, and sorcery-related killings.

Source: Radio Australia, Feb. 25, 2015

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Texas: British death row grandmother Linda Carty granted new hearing

Linda Carty
A Texas court has today granted British death row grandmother Linda Carty a new hearing to assess recently discovered evidence in her case.

The evidentiary hearing, granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, will assess evidence that the key witnesses in Linda’s trial lied on the witness stand because they were threatened by the prosecutor into testifying against her. The new evidence was unearthed by lawyers at international human rights charity Reprieve following years of investigation.

Among the witnesses is Christopher Robinson, the only person who claimed to have seen Linda (56) carry out the murder of Joanna Rodriguez. Christopher Robinson has now admitted that Texas District Attorneys (DAs) “threatened me and intimidated me” into identifying Linda as the culprit. Mr Robinson, who was the key to the prosecution case, admits that he never saw Linda kill anyone and his testimony to this extent at trial was a lie.

Mr Robinson has signed an affidavit, filed in September 2014, in which he states that prosecutors “told me I had to testify at Linda’s trial to avoid the death penalty, and they made it clear what it was I had to say.” Mr Robinson adds that they “[told] me I would get the death penalty myself if Linda Carty did not get the death penalty.”

Several other witnesses at Linda’s trial have also admitted they were “blackmailed” by Texas prosecutors and lied or omitted evidence as a result.

Charles Mathis, a former Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer who was Linda’s ‘handler’ during the time she worked as an informer for the Agency has stepped forward to reveal the lengths the prosecutors went to obtain the testimony they needed. Mr Mathis’ affidavit states that when he told the Texas DA that he “knew that Linda did not have it in her to kill anyone,” and so did not want to testify against her, the DA “threatened me with an invented affair that I was supposed to have had with Linda."

Celia Ouellette, Staff Attorney at Reprieve, said: “This is a wonderful day for Linda – and for justice. That a prosecutor can threaten witnesses to lie under oath and testify against a woman, who ends up being convicted of murder and sentenced to death as a direct result, is truly devastating. We look forward to giving Linda a day in court that is not rigged against her from the start.”

Michael Goldberg, Linda's US attorney at Baker Botts LLP, said: "It has long been clear that Linda should have a new trial because of the catalog of errors in her first. Linda's whole team has been working tirelessly for more than a decade to achieve this result and we look forward to giving Linda the chance at justice that she deserves."

Source: Reprieve, February 25, 2015

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Georgia: Death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner denied clemency; execution rescheduled ahead of winter storm

Kelly Gissendaner
Kelly Gissindaner's last ditch effort to avoid execution Wednesday night was unsuccessful.

The five member, all-male Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Wednesday morning it has denied clemency to the state's only female death row inmate.

Tuesday, the board listened to a full day of testimony from supporters and opponents. Twenty-one people over a four hour period asked the board to spare Kelly Gissendaner's life.

Gissendaner now admits to her role in the February 1997 murder of her husband, Doug Gissendaner, Jr. She orchestrated his murder by convincing her boyfriend, Greg Owen, to kill him.

"He beat him (Doug) with a (billy) club and stabbed him and left him to die in the woods," said Gwinnett County District Attorney, Danny Porter.

Kelly Gissendaner was not there at the hearing, which was closed to the public.

The witness list in favor of clemency included two of Gissendaner's three children, Kayla and Dakota; her stepmother and grandmother; five members of the clergy; a former inmate; and several prison volunteers.

In the 53-page clemency application, daughter Kayla wrote: "The impact of losing my mother would be devastating. I can't fathom losing another parent."

While Gissendaner had no remorse at the time the crime was committed, she says she does now.

"There are no excuses for what I did," Gissendaner said in her statement. "I will never understand how I let myself fall into such evil."

Her supporters said she's found God.

"In the study of theology, [Kelly] has found a venue for reflecting on her own experiences, mistakes, relationships, dreams and faith, " wrote the Rev. Cathy Zappa in a statement.

While Gissindaner has her supporters, her murdered husband's family is among those who spoke against clemency. During her trial, Doug Gissendaner's loved ones favored her getting the death penalty.

Source: 13WMAZ, February 25, 2015


Ahead of winter storm, Georgia delays woman's execution set for Wednesday

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia on Wednesday delayed the execution of its only female death row inmate, ahead of a winter storm forecast to hit many areas with several inches of snow.

Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, had been scheduled for execution at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. The execution has been reset for Monday, according to a Department of Corrections statement.

The department didn't give a reason in its statement. A winter storm was is forecast to hit parts of Georgia on Wednesday afternoon, closing schools and offices and prompting warnings about roads.

Gissendaner was convicted of murder in the February 1997 slaying of her husband. Prosecutors said she plotted with her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, in the killing.

Owen pleaded guilty and received a life prison sentence. A jury sentenced Gissendaner to death in 1998.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles held a clemency hearing Tuesday for Gissendaner but announced Wednesday that her request for clemency was denied. The parole board is the only entity in Georgia with the authority to commute a death sentence.

Gissendaner would be the first woman executed in Georgia in about 70 years.

Source: The Associated Press, February 25, 2015

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Unswayed by World Leaders’ Pleas, Jokowi Pushes Ahead With Executions


Indonesian gunboats guard the waters surrounding Nusakambangan
prison island where Indonesia carries out its executions.
‘Firm Stance’: Indonesia’s unyielding position on capital punishment has transformed into an issue of national pride

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday the planned execution of 11 convicts on death row, most on drugs charges, would not be delayed despite concerted pleas from several world leaders. Instead, he warned foreign countries not to intervene with his government’s right to impose the capital punishment.

Joko has denied clemency to the death-row prisoners despite repeated pleas for mercy from Australia, Brazil and France, all of whom have citizens due to be executed by an Indonesian firing squad.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made a similar appeal to Indonesia last Friday.

Eleven inmates are due to face the firing squad after Joko rejected their requests for clemency in January.

“I will say this firmly: no one may intervene with the executions because it is our sovereign right to exercise our laws,” Joko told reporters.

He said he had taken calls from the leaders of France, Brazil and the Netherlands about Indonesia’s use of the death penalty but made no mention of Australia.

Two Australians are among the 11 on death row.

The president did not say when the executions would be carried out.

In a special interview with BeritaSatu Media Holdings on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi asserted that Indonesia would not back down from its decision to execute foreign drug-trafficking inmates on death row, even despite risks of disrupting diplomatic ties with the prisoners’ countries of origin.

“Indonesia is always open [to suggestions]. Wherever I go, I always say that we’re ready to cooperate, to boost our partnerships with any countries and we’ve communicated with them under the spirit of friendship,” Retno said in her office in Jakarta. “But when it reaches a point where they offend our dignity as a nation, that is where we must take a firm and dignified stance [against them].”

The minister was speaking in light of a diplomatic row with Brazil and an increasingly heated dispute with Australia over the execution of a Brazilian in January, as well as the planned executions of another Brazilian and two Australian nationals slated for next month.

Indonesia ended its unofficial moratorium on the death penalty last month [January 2015] when it executed six prisoners, five of whom were foreign nationals.

Joko has repeatedly asserted that Indonesia is in a “state of emergency” concerning drug use, citing National Narcotics Agency (BNN) data, which claim Indonesia has over 4.5 million drug users. Between 40 and 50 people, the agency says, die every day from drug use.

Opponents of the death penalty have disputed these figures.


Source: The Jakarta Globe, February 25, 2015


Will Widodo the Merciful Ever Have to Beg for Clemency?

229 Indonesians face death penalty abroad

The Foreign Ministry stated on Tuesday that there were 229 Indonesians abroad facing capital punishment for various crimes.

"Most of them are in Malaysia with 168 cases, Saudi Arabia with 38 and China with 15," stated the ministry's directorate for Indonesian nationals' protection and legal aid as quoted by Antara news agency.

The directorate also revealed that 131 of the cases were related to drugs, while 77 of them were related to murder.

"Regarding the drug cases, 112 are in Malaysia, 15 in China, 2 in Laos, 1 in Singapore and another one in Vietnam," the directorate stated.The Foreign Ministry had handled 9,290 legal cases abroad as of September 2014, with most of the cases relating to migrant workers and ship crewmembers.

Source: The Jakarta Post, February 24, 2015


Military aircraft to fly convicts to Central Java

Sukhoi jet fighters in Bali 
Bali Prosecutor’s Office chief Momock Bambang Samiarso has confirmed media reports that the two Australians convicted of drug trafficking will be flown by military aircraft to Nusakambangan prison island in Central Java, where they will face the firing squad in the near future.

His announcement was a follow-up to a statement by Maj. Gen. Torry Djohar Banguntoro of the Udayana Regional Military Command (Kodam IX), covering Bali and East and West Nusa Tenggara, on Monday. Torry said that the Indonesian Military would deploy a squadron of Sukhoi jet fighters to escort the transfer of the two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, from Kerobokan prison in Denpasar to Nusakambangan.

“Yes, it has already been decided,” Momock said on Tuesday, without specifying what type of aircraft would be used in the operation.

Three Sukhoi jet fighters arrived in Bali from Sultan Hasanuddin Air Force base in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Monday. The aircraft have been parked at the air base at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Colibri-type helicopters and CN-295 aircraft have also been seen at the air base.

The Air Force, however, has denied that the jet fighters are there to safeguard the transfer of the two convicts. A spokesman has described the arrival of the planes as a coincidence.

“We haven’t received any order to escort the death-row prisoners. The jet fighters are in Bali for a joint exercise with Air Force personnel at the Ngurah Rai Air Force base,” Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjahjanto said on Tuesday.

He insisted that the jet fighters were also conducting routine patrols securing Indonesia’s air territory and its borders.

“We’re also conducting the same patrols and exercises at Tarakan, Biak and Medan. These are routine patrols,” Hadi said.

However, Hadi added that the Air Force would always be ready if the government ordered them to secure the transfer.

“No matter what happens, we are always ready,” he said.

Eleven death-row convicts, including Chan and Sukumaran, are scheduled to be executed in Nusakambangan despite a global outcry.

Meanwhile, National Commission on Human Rights commissioner Natalius Pigai visited the two prisoners at Kerobokan prison.

He praised the contribution of the two Australians in teaching skills to other inmates.

“My conclusion is they are good mentors and have made a big contribution, especially to our people […] They have transferred their skills to thousands of prisoners since 2008,” Pigai said.

Chan and Sukumaran, members of the so-called Bali Nine gang of Australian drug smugglers, were arrested when they attempted to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Indonesia to Australia seven years ago.

Source: The Jakarta Post, February 25, 2015


Island firing range where Bali Nine duo will meet their end revealed

Nusakambangan Island Firing Range (source: ninemsn)
This is the firing range where Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be executed.

The site is located behind a police station and near the water on the prison island of Nusakambangan in central Java, Indonesia.

It was inaugurated at a ceremony last November and is the same site where five drug traffickers were shot dead after midnight on January 18, News Corp reports.

The photo, taken at night, shows how the firing range will be flood lit for the impending executions of the Bali duo and eight others.

It also shows the targets the firing squad use for practice, with the round objects on the target posts set at the average height of a person's heart.

The earthen wall behind the posts is for absorbing rounds behind where the condemned men will stand.

Each victim will face their own 12-man firing squad, with only three shooters in each squad issued with live rounds.

The firing range is set well apart from the high-security prison where Chan and Sukumaran will spend their final days in isolation cells.

News Corp reports that 10 coffins have now arrived in central Java in readiness for the executions.

Source: ninemsn, February 26, 2015 (local time)

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Bill To Abolish The Death Penalty Fails By Just One Vote In Montana House

The Montana state House came closer to abolishing the death penalty Monday than it has ever before, ultimately failing to pass the measure by just one vote.

According to the Montana Lee Newspapers, the House ended up deadlocked 50-50, which means the measure is likely dead for the 2015 legislative session. Although the state Senate has passed legislation ending the death penalty, the House never has.

There are currently two inmates on death row in Montana. Seventy-four people have been executed by the state in total.

State Rep. David "Doc" Moore (R), sponsor of House Bill 370, said the people on death row should instead spend their lives in prison without parole.

“And to me, personally, I couldn't imagine a worse fate than being locked up on prison for the rest of my life,” he said, according to Montana Television Network.

Last week, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said he would support a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty pending a Supreme Court decision this year on the use of lethal injection drugs in Oklahoma.

"Our system of justice is the best in the world. It is comprised of men and women who do the best they can, get it right more often than not, substantially more right than wrong," Holder said. "There's always the possibility that mistakes will be made. ... It's for that reason that I am opposed to the death penalty."

Source: The Huffington PostAmanda Terkel, February 24, 2015

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