[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Dec 3 12:51:43 CST 2005
Chinese Death Sentence for Fraud
A high official of southeastern China was condemned to death with 2 years
suspension for embezzling 600,000 dollars of public funds from farmers
whose lands had been appropriated by the government.
The official, Du Jiang, of the Wushan Bureau of Natural Resources was
found guilty of appropriating 512,000 dollars between December 1998 and
May 2004 from funds to repay the farmers for their lands which the Chinese
government used for construction of the Three Gargantas Reservoir on the
He was separately found guilty of misappropriating another 71,000 dollars
from the same funds and, in addition to his death sentence, lost his
political rights and all his personal goods.
6 others were found guilty of collaborating with Du and received sentences
ranging from 2 years to life.
Chinese law metes out 2 types of death sentences. Those offenders who
commit the most heinous crimes are immediately put to death, while others
receive a two-year suspension in prison during which time they have the
opportunity to prove that they have truly reformed in order to reduce
their sentences to between 15 years and life.
In the main, only those whose resistance to reform is verified to be
inexorable will have the Supreme Court rule on their execution.
To build the Yangtze dam in Chongqing, which is the largest and most
populous city in China, it was necessary to relocate 170,000 residents in
a project that took 5 years.
When completed in 2009 at an estimated cost of 22 billion dollars, it will
be the worlds largest hydroelectric structure, with 26 generators and a
capacity to produce 84,700 kHz of electricity annually.
(source: Presna Latina)
9 arrested Thai insurgents face trial, execution
9 insurgents arrested for planting explosives which damaged public
utilities in southern Thailand last month could face either life
imprisonment or death sentences, senior officers said Saturday.
The 9 men accused of planting bombs in the heart of Southern Narathiwat
province on Nov. 2 face 5 serious charges, which could lead to their
execution if found guilty, the Thai News Agency quoted Lt. Gen. Kwanchart
Klaharn, Commanding General of the Fourth Army Area Command and
concurrently chief of the Southern Border Provinces Peace-building Command
(SBPPC), and Pol.Maj. Gen. Adul Saengsingkaew, Commissioner of Provincial
Police Region 9, as saying.
The charges include instigating unrest, illegally possessing explosive
weapons, planting explosives with the intention to kill innocent people,
meditating to kill other people and damaging public utility.
The 9 men now face either life imprisonment or the death sentence, Pol.
Maj. Gen. Adul said.
5 of the accused have admitted their guilt, while the rest denied the
charges, but investigative officers had sufficient evidence to bring
convictions in all the cases, he said.
(source: Xinhau News)
Yemeni appeal court upholds death sentence for cleric
A Yemeni court of appeals on Saturday upheld the death sentence against a
Shia cleric and a ten-year prison term against another over spying for
Iran and supporting an armed rebellion by a Shia group in northern Yemen
The court decided to refer the death sentence handed by a lower court to
Yahya Hussein Al Dailami and the 10-year jail term given to Muhammad Ahmad
Muftah to the Supreme Court.
A state security court convicted the pair on May 29 of "having contacts
with the state Iran with the aim of harming the diplomatic and political
position of Yemen."
The 2 men, who are mosque preachers in the capital Sana'a, were also found
guilty of "conspiring to overthrow the republican regime."
Prosecutors said Al Dailami had maintained contacts with the Iranian
ambassador in Sanaa seeking support for his group.
Dailami also "travelled to Iran and made contacts with the Iranian state
seeking support for an Islamic revolution in Yemen," read the initial
(source: Khaleej Times)
Nguyen lawyer targets US
Australian leaders will have to speak out against the death penalty in the
US if they want to be taken seriously in their campaign against capital
punishment, a lawyer for hanged drug trafficker Van Tuong Nguyen said
Lawyer Julian McMahon arrived back in Melbourne from Singapore today
following the execution of his client yesterday.
Exhausted but anxious to maintain a growing global campaign against the
death sentence, Mr McMahon said state-sanctioned killing was wrong and
Australians had a duty to speak out.
"We should not be afraid to speak the truth to our powerful friend the
United States," Mr McMahon said.
"The voice against capital punishment in the US is slowly but surely
"We should have no fear in joining that voice against capital punishment."
Mr McMahon stood with Nguyen's twin brother Khoa and several of his
closest friends near the walls of Changi Prison when Nguyen was hanged at
6am Singapore time (0900 AEDT) yesterday.
"Some laws are wrong and we have an obligation to speak out against those
laws wherever they are," he said.
"The Australian community has a reawakened awareness from this case that
premeditated state-sanctioned killing is wrong.
"It is even more legally and morally repugnant when it is mandatory
premeditated, state-sanctioned killing."
Singapore has a mandatory death sentence for anyone found importing more
than 15gm of heroin.
Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in possession of almost 400gm of
heroin in December 2002.
Mr McMahon said Australian leaders must take the step of consistently
speaking out against mandatory execution and execution generally.
"In order to speak with clear legal and moral authority our community must
consistently take this step," he said.
"This means in easy cases and hard cases, this means for Australians and
"This means in countries whose governments we respect little and in
countries whose governments we respect greatly."
He said supporters would now carefully consider and implement an
appropriate structure and method of stepping up the campaign.
In the meantime Nguyen's mother Kim Nguyen and his brother, Khoa were
expected to bring home Nguyen's body later today.
Mr McMahon said Nguyen's family were benefiting from the company of
supporters who enabled them to grieve openly.
He praised the prison staff and said Nguyen had grown to love his jailers.
"By the time Van died everyone involved in the case knew the prison
workers had only been kindly to him and he loved them, to use his words,"
Mr McMahon said.
"Prison officials were always courteous, professional and considerate to
the lawyers and family."
He said Nguyen had written many letters in the lead up to his death and
lawyers would distribute them this week.
Some of the letters were to "important people" but may contain private
thoughts and were not necessarily for public perusal, Mr McMahon said.
He said friends and well-wishers would be welcome at Nguyen's funeral to
be held at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne on Wednesday at 11am
Death of compassion
There were vigils and calls for a minute's silence. But in the end
Australians applauded the hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van, writes David Marr.
UNTIL the past few weeks, he didn't make much of an impression. He was a
kid in a fuzzy photograph with a hard-to-remember name picked up with
drugs at Singapore Airport years ago.
Nguyen Tuong Van was hardly news. For Australians he was barely Australian
- just another locally raised Vietnamese boy picked up running drugs in
Asia. Three were already in custody in Vietnam. Three more were arrested
in Ho Chi Min City while Nguyen waited for his trial. They all faced death
- but surely only in theory?
His arrest in December 2002 was followed by a year's dead silence. Even
his conviction last March didn't move us much. Everything stayed low key.
Nguyen and his team didn't campaign. They didn't follow the noisy tactics
Schapelle Corby's team adopted after her arrest in Bali in October last
year. The lawyers played it by the book.
The media scanner Rehame can pinpoint exactly when we started to pay
attention to the fate of Nguyen - early November 2005. His appeal for
clemency had failed in late October. At that point, his lawyer, Lex Lasry,
QC, switched tactics and began campaigning hard in public. After nearly 3
years, the story was hot. But the ugly message coming through loud and
clear from talkback - a message confirmed by polling in the last days of
Nguyen's life - was that roughly half the nation was happy to see him
Talkback revealed more: a deep admiration for Singapore and its solution
to drug smuggling. For every 50 calls deploring the execution as barbaric,
there were 60 commending Nguyen's death. Many said Nguyen "deserved" to
die. Many argued he was bringing heroin to this country so his was a crime
against Australian people. But the biggest single group rang to say we
should get off Singapore's back.
There are many uncomfortable lessons for Australia in the wreckage of
Nguyen's death. One is the continuing support for the death penalty in
this country, a fact that ambushed several commentators this week. They
shouldn't have been surprised. The figures have been around for years,
although the savagery of the verdict in the Nguyen case raises some grim
questions about this country.
We also learnt that we are not Singapore's absolute opposite. There has
been a real clash between the two countries over Nguyen's execution. The
Prime Minister, John Howard, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander
Downer, and the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, have all condemned the
The public response of the last few days - the high level of enthusiasm
for the hanging - has revealed a strong strain of admiration in Australia
for Singapore's ruthless, puritan Government. But this has not been a
simple clash between humane Australia on one side and cruel Singapore on
A typical talkback caller was logged this week applauding the prospect of
Nguyen's death and "wishing a lot of Singapore's laws should be invoked in
Australia because we are too lenient". While Singaporeans were on the line
saying they were ashamed of their own country, Australians were applauding
the clean, safe, tough little republic up north for showing us how things
should be done. It's an admiration that goes way back.
HEROIN began pouring into South-East Asia for the first time in the 1970s
and there was panic in the region. Richard Nixon was cranking up his war
on drugs, to prevent heroin following US soldiers home to America, and
Australia was keen to stop it coming down here.
Suddenly, in 1975, three key transit countries in the region - Singapore,
Malaysia and Indonesia - imposed the death penalty on drug smugglers. It
came at a time when most of the rest of the world was moving to abolish
What began in Asia soon spread to the Middle East and North Africa: an
unexpected resurgence in the use of the death penalty, applied for the
first time to the drug trade.
The US was also pressuring Australia in these years - the mid to late
1970s - to toughen our own anti-drug laws. We stopped short of instituting
the death penalty, but welcomed the death penalties being legislated
across Asia. They were seen as our advance defence: a cordon protecting
this country from the heroin flood.
American meddling doesn't entirely explain what was happening. The
countries that began executing drug traffickers in the late 1970s were all
undemocratic states in which the death penalty was in common use. Most
Puritan Islam was on the rise. Innovation in South-East Asia was taken up
with grim enthusiasm in Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and across
Singapore's enthusiasm for executing drug traders was more secular - part
of the implacable thoroughness with which the government of Lee Kuan Yew
was shaping the island's new society. Lee had gutted the once-powerful
trade union movement, ditched habeas corpus and tamed the judiciary. In
the late 1960s, Singapore police began forcibly cutting the hair of male
tourists. It was a thuggish imposition of taste that had its fans in
"First and foremost it was a reaction to the hippie culture coming out of
the US at that time," says Professor Carl Trocki of the Queensland
University of Technology. He was in Singapore in those years and witnessed
the state's new tough response to drugs. "There was an almost visceral,
hostile reaction on the part of the Singapore elite."
Already the government had run campaigns to get rid of prostitutes,
homosexuals, loafers and drunks. In the 1970s, drug addicts were added to
the list. It was a campaign particularly aimed at Malays, the race at the
bottom of Singapore's social heap. "They are the blacks of Singapore,"
says Trocki. "The indigenous people."
But the new death penalty - mandatory for possession of a mere 15 grams of
heroin - would impact on all races: Malays with their supposed weakness
for drugs; whites who smuggled the stuff onto the island; and remnant
users of opium among the Chinese. Under the British, Singapore had been a
major trading post and market for opium. Imposing on drug users the very
British death by hanging was a perverse expression of independence.
NGUYEN Tuong Van had no plans to leave Changi Airport when he arrived from
Cambodia on the afternoon of December 22, 2002. It seems he fell asleep
while he waited for his connecting flight to Melbourne and then, rushing
to catch the plane, failed to take his mobile from his pocket as he passed
through a metal detector.
The search that followed revealed heroin strapped to his body and in his
pack. Originally it was reported as 762 grams. Eventually he was tried for
possessing 396.2 grams. The difference didn't matter. Nothing mattered.
That he confessed, that he helped the police, that he was young, that this
was a 1st offence, that he wasn't bringing drugs into Singapore itself -
counted for nothing.
That's what mandatory sentencing is all about: punishment without
The idea of handcuffing judges in this way is still much admired in
Australia, particularly in drug cases.
The 1st arrest of an Australian for drug trafficking in Singapore was
barely reported by the Australian press in the early days. The exception
was the Sunday Age, which carried a shrewd warning by its Asia editor,
Mark Baker: "Singapore has routinely spurned protests by foreign
governments over the use of capital punishment."
Lots of Australians are arrested with drugs in Asia. Many have been
sentenced to death. We don't show them much compassion. Australians stay
disengaged and expect the government to solve the problem. Almost all
escape the noose or the firing squad.
Vietnam and Indonesia rarely carry out death sentences imposed for drug
trafficking. Vietnam in particular has a record for responding humanely to
2 Australian Vietnamese still face death in Ho Chi Minh City, but in the
past few months 2 others have had their death sentences commuted to long
jail terms. They are Tran Van Thanh, a former Sydney phone card salesman
arrested with 700 grams of heroin, and Tran Thi Hong Loan, convicted for
trying to smuggle 881 grams of heroin in a hairspray bottle.
Hitherto, Australia's most bruising and unsuccessful diplomatic encounters
have been with Malaysia over Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers in 1986 and
Michael McAuliffe in 1993.
Whether the same sort of trouble is looming with Indonesia over the Bali 9
will depend largely on the growing strength of Islamic puritan movements
in that country. These were the people demonstrating outside Corby's trial
calling for her death. The inflexibility of Malaysia is crossing the
Straits. For the moment Indonesia appears to be sticking to its way of
simply shooting some drug traffickers and commuting the sentences of those
condemned to death.
There's not a high risk that the Bali nine will find themselves in front
of a firing squad, yet there has been far more public support and sympathy
shown for this bunch from the moment of their arrest than there was until
the last weeks of Nguyen's life even though it was known all along that he
stood little chance of surviving.
As has been written often this week, little Singapore is the most
enthusiastic executor of criminals in the world on a per capita basis and
has almost never been known to commute a death sentence once passed.
Allowing Nguyen to touch his mother's hand was, in its way, a diplomatic
triumph. Essentially, from the moment the security alarm rang that evening
at Changi Airport 3 years ago, he was a goner.
In the last hours of his life, candles were burnt and vigils kept across
Australia. His execution yesterday was a cause of immense grief. But the
indifference or even satisfaction at his death was shocking. On the night
of November 30, Roy Morgan Research asked 650 Australians whether Nguyen
should hang and 47 % said yes. Men were tougher than women; the old were
tougher than the young; Coalition voters were far harsher than Labor. But
roughly 1/2 of us said he should die.
Why? Were he a white kid born in a Sydney suburb, the response would have
been different. Quantitatively and qualitatively. Were he facing death in
a country we admired less than Singapore - say corrupt Indonesia - the
level of sympathy would be higher.
But those figures - and talkback's verdict - speak of strongly held
beliefs in Australia that decades of argument from experts have not
budged: that heroin is murder, that executions deter and that the best
first response to the drugs still pouring down from South-East Asia is
We can know only a few things certainly: a young kid died. Half a kilo of
heroin didn't reach Melbourne. Many Australians mourned. At least as many
were pleased with the outcome. There's more heroin on the way. And it will
all happen again.
Divisions deepen as Nguyen goes to the gallows
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, hit back at a
barrister's claim that the Federal Government should have done more to
prevent Nguyen Tuong Van's execution as Government MPs broke ranks with
their colleagues and suggested it was Singapore's right to hang the
25-year-old for drug trafficking.
Mr Downer called the barrister Robert Richter, QC, a "creep" for
questioning the Australian Government's handling of the case. Canberra had
refused to try to force Singapore before the International Court of
Justice to obtain an injunction on yesterday's execution, or to seek
Nguyen's extradition to face drugs conspiracy charges in Australia.
Mr Richter, an advocate of the failed extradition proposal, said the US
and France successfully intervened when their citizens had faced execution
Mr Downer said the criticism was unfair. "You can imagine how we all feel
about it now, and for some creep to say something like that - how
contemptible can you get? We tried a whole range of options, from
diplomatic to legal, but, not surprisingly, none of them proved to be
workable or effective, and that is a very sad thing."
The curtains were drawn at the Singaporean high commission in Canberra
when Nguyen was being hanged yesterday. The Greens Senator, Bob Brown,
said the diplomats inside "could not look Australia in the face".
"This is really about the worst side of humanity, that cruel, negative
side that lurks there and that we keep down in the name of civilisation,"
Senator Brown said, "but it's come out today in the form of the
Singaporean Government and their Prime Minister."
The Singaporean high commissioner, Joseph Koh, did not emerge, but in the
lead-up to the hanging he called for Australians to try to understand the
reasons for his nation's tough drug laws, including fears that the island
state could become a drug-smuggling hub.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, said Nguyen's death should be a warning
to all Australians never to traffic drugs. He thought Australians had
reserved their "greatest sympathy" for Nguyen's mother, Kim.
Asked what he was doing when the execution took place, he said: "I was
just reflecting on it in my office, very much so." Shortly after, Mr
Howard went to Manuka Oval in Canberra to officiate at the opening of a
cricket match between the Prime Minister's XI and the West Indies.
While there would be no government sanctions imposed on Singapore, Mr
Howard predicted there would be damage to "people-to-people links" between
the two countries.
"My judgement is that the community is quite divided," he said. "I don't
think everybody is opposed to what has happened."
One Government backbencher, Wilson Tuckey, said: "I lack compassion for
Nguyen on the ground that thousands of Australians have died from opiate
(source for both: Sydney Morning Herald)
Not enough was done to save Nguyen
Van Nguyen is dead and we are not. Van Nguyen is beyond whatever suffering
he has gone through. We live with the legacy of the most horrible, brutal
and obscene killing that takes the name of law, but which will never bear
the name of justice.
Approximately 40 years ago, I stood outside Pentridge Prison when the last
man was hanged in Victoria. There was a total and absolute recognition
that it deterred no one when we, and other rational communities, abolished
the death sentence.
A mandatory death sentence is an even greater obscenity because it is
administered by the judges and governments who propound lies - lies that
include the notion that the crime merited death, that the death will be a
deterrent. Those of us who know the legal system and have seen it operate
in countries where there is capital punishment, and in countries where
there is not, know full well that the death sentence is not a deterrent.
And the reason it is not a deterrent is because the people who commit
crimes for which they are sentenced to death do not do so with the
expectation that they will be caught and executed.
They commit their crimes out of ignorance, stupidity, naked greed, maybe
desperation, maybe passion. But the one thing that they do not take into
account is the notion that what they do may bring about the death
sentence. Van Nguyen certainly did not.
The Prime Minister of Singapore said that what Van Nguyen did merited the
death sentence; that drug traffickers purvey death, and therefore they
ought to be killed. What he didn't say was that Van Nguyen was merely in
transit through Singapore. Australia was the intended victim of his
action, and Australia said we do not judicially murder people. There is
something entirely chilling about the state apparatus cold-bloodedly,
wantonly, obscenely, killing a human being.
There is the most extraordinary hypocrisy that abounds around us about
these notions. Hypocrisy emanating not just from the Asian states to our
north, but from the President of the United States, the man responsible
for more deaths than probably any other human being in the US.
Van Nguyen committed the crime. We do not apologise, we do not sanctify,
we do not deify him. The punishment did not fit the crime and could not,
but the obscenity of mandatory death sentence meant he had to die.
The great question is: what are we doing about it? We need to campaign
hard and permanently to make sure that this does not happen again. There
are nine people in Bali who may be dead soon.
This morning I heard Senator Ellison say, "We've done all we could." That
is a lie. It's a complete lie. I've heard the Prime Minister, I've heard
Mr Ruddock, I've heard Mr Downer say they've done everything we can. That
is a lie. I've heard Mr Downer say we've done everything we can. That is a
We have not legally or politically done everything that we can. When did
we propose to the UN that we should bring up capital punishment as being
contrary to the rule of law because it does not recognise the notion of
judicial discretion in sentencing, of proportionality between crime and
punishment which lies at the root of all punishment. Where is the
resolution of the Parliament - both houses - condemning the execution as
unlawful? The Government hasn't done it. The Opposition hasn't done it.
And it's not just Howard and Ruddock and Downer and Ellison who are lying
to us. That lick-spittle who gave away his principles over the Tampa also
hasn't done it, but seems content to say: "Well, they're doing what they
Well they could have done a lot more, and they could have done it
privately. They could have said to the Singaporean Prime Minister,
quietly: "You do this and Singapore Airlines will fly empty between
Australia and the United States, Singapore Airlines being an arm of the
There is nothing as chilling as the cold-blooded execution in Changi. We
live with it. Every time we think of it we will shudder.
(source: Robert Richter, QC, is a criminal barrister. This is part of his
speech yesterday morning at a vigil outside the County Court in Melbourne;
3 more on death row
The body of hanged drug courier Nguyen Tuong Van will be flown home to
Melbourne this morning. Meanwhile, 3 other Australians on death row in
Asia face a similar fate. Nguyen's mother, Kim, brother, Khoa, and lawyer
Lex Lasry, QC accompanied the coffin of the 25-year-old from Singapore
Nguyen was the 1st Australian to be executed in an Asian jail since
Queenslander Michael Dennis McAuliffe was hanged in Malaysia 12 years ago.
But The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that 3 others face execution.
One of them, Henry Chhin, from Sydney, is in jail in China.
Chhin's case has received almost no publicity, and Amnesty International
said it was not even aware of him. The 2 others facing death are in
The pair lost their appeals against the death sentence earlier this year.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is supporting calls for clemency.
In the past, Vietnam has commuted the death sentences of several
Australians following pleas by the Australian Government.
Little is known about Henry Chhin. Arrested in May, 2004, he was convicted
last March of trying to send 270 grams of methamphetamine, better known as
"ice", to Australia.
Chhin allegedly hid the drug in computer software and tried to send it via
FedEx, but the box was intercepted by Shanghai police.
The Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court heard that police found another
700 grams of the drug in Chhin's house.
A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman confirmed Chhin was an Australian citizen
and had been sentenced to death.
But she said the sentence came with a 2-year suspension, which meant it
would be reviewed in 2007.
Chhin's behaviour in that time will be taken into account.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that Chhin went to live in China last
Amnesty International told The Sunday Telegraph it was not aware of Chhin.
A spokesman for the Australian Federal Police said it could not provide
The Australian embassy in Beijing also declined to shed any light on
Chhin's case or say whether he was being visited by consular officials.
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