[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Dec 16 14:59:57 CST 2004
Relatives Visit Bulgarian Nurses on Death Row in Libya
5 Bulgarian nurses Libya has sentenced to death for allegedly causing an
AIDS outbreak at a hospital will be allowed to meet their relatives during
the Christmas holidays.
Family members of the nurses are flying Tripoli on Thursday after Libya
issued them visas.
The relatives will be allowed to meet the nurses at the Judeyda prison for
several hours a day until Dec. 24, the bTV reported.
A charitable fund headed by Seif al-Islam el Gaddafi, son of Libya's
leader Mu'ammar Gaddafi is organising the visit.
Gaddafi Jr. has recently said his country would not execute the nurses and
a Palestinian doctor that was convicted along with them, but Tripoli was
ready to discuss their extradition to Bulgaria if the latter would agree
to pay compensations to the families affected by the AIDS contagion.
Bulgarian officials have ruled out talks about compensations asserting
that Sofia considers the nurses innocent. Foreign Minister Solomon Passy
however has said Bulgaria could join a European Union-led humanitarian
effort to help Libya cope with the epidemic.
The nurses are appealing death sentences a court in the city of Benghazi
handed them last May 6 on charges of deliberately injecting 426 children
at a local hospital with blood contaminated with the HIV virus that causes
AIDS. Libya says more than 40 children have developed AIDS and died. The
court ignored evidence by international experts, who said the infection
had started before the hospital hired the Bulgarians.
The nurses have complained Libyan police savagely tortured them to extort
confessions of guilt after their arrest in Feb. 1999. Bulgaria has branded
the verdict absurd and won overwhelming international support for its
efforts to make Libya commute it.
(source: Bulgarian News Network)
Saddam Hussein Meets with Lawyer for First Time
Saddam Hussein met with a lawyer on Thursday for the 1st time since he was
arrested a year ago, his defense team said.
"The interview lasted for more than 4 hours. The president seems in good
health, much better compared to his first appearance before the court,"
Saddam's Amman-based legal team said in a statement.
Iraq's former leader has been in custody since U.S. forces found him
hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit on Dec. 13 last year and is
due to be tried for war crimes along with 11 of his top deputies.
Saddam's defense lawyers said earlier this week they did not recognize the
Iraqi interim government's plans to try the 67-year-old or his aides since
they had been denied access to their clients and had not been given legal
documents on which to prepare their case.
Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Tuesday that war crimes trials of
some of Saddam's top aides would begin next week. Defense Minister Hazim
Shaalan said Saddam's feared cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as
"Chemical Ali," would be the 1st to stand trial.
However, Western diplomats and Iraqi officials have said the proceedings
were not the start of a war crimes trial but preliminary investigative
Saddam himself is expected to be among the last to be tried. The Special
Tribunal organizing the process said on Wednesday that those whose trials
were most imminent had been granted access to lawyers.
European Union asks state to halt Ross execution
The European Union has asked Connecticut's governor and parole board to
delay or halt the planned execution of serial killer Michael Ross, the
Dutch government said Thursday.
Ross' execution, scheduled for Jan. 26, would be the 1st in New England
The Netherlands currently holds the rotating European Union presidency and
issued a statement on behalf of all 25 EU member countries.
The EU, which opposes capital punishment, said in a letter to U.S.
authorities that a freeze on carrying out death sentences was a "1st step"
It asked Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, "to grant a reprieve to Mr. Ross
to allow for deliberation on this complex and emotive issue." It called on
the chairman of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles "to exercise
all the powers vested in your office to grant clemency."
Rell, on Dec. 6, announced she would not issue a reprieve after
researching case law, the constitution, state statutes and details of the
"I do believe that there are crimes and actions which are so repugnant to
society as to warrant the death penalty," Rell said at the time. "And this
is such a case."
Rell has no power to commute Ross' death sentence. But according to the
state constitution, Rell has the power to grant a reprieve that would have
postponed Ross' planned Jan. 26 execution until after the next legislative
Given Rell's decision against a reprieve, state lawmakers are doubtful
that a bill abolishing or changing the death penalty will be approved
before the Jan. 26 execution date.
Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, co-chairman of the legislature's
Judiciary Committee and someone who favors life in prison rather than the
death penalty, said Rell should provide the time for the legislature to
fully debate the issue.
"The involvement of the EU in this issue just underscores the fact that
this is a much bigger issue than just Michael Ross," McDonald said. "And I
think it's a mistake to have this debate in the context of whether Michael
Ross is a good person or a bad person."
Ross admitted killing 8 women in eastern Connecticut and New York in the
early 1980s, and raping most of his victims. He has been in prison for 20
years - 17 on Connecticut's death row - for 4 murders.
In October, Ross told Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford that he had
decided not to pursue any further appeals, and Clifford set an execution
date. But the judge later ordered a hearing for Dec. 28 to determine if
Ross is mentally competent to make that decision.
(source: Associated Press)
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