[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Dec 14 12:24:18 CST 2005
"Arnold the Barbarian"
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous for playing hard men in
Hollywood blockbusters such as "Terminator" and "Conan the Barbarian," has
lost many fans in Germany and his native Austria by refusing to pardon
gang killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams.
Williams was executed on Monday night after spending 24 years on Death Row
during which he wrote children's books encouraging kids to shun a life of
crime. Newspaper commentators say "Arnie" chose the politically safe route
of pandering to his Republican party. In doing so, he has turned his back
on religious values and on Europe, where countries have abolished the
"Arnold the Barbarian" says Berlin's Bild Zeitung tabloid in a banner
front-page headline, and its commentary pulls no punches. "The man who
made his fortune portraying axe-wielding warriors and terminators, the man
for whom murder and killing symbolized entertainment for years, said
'No'", writes Bild. "Schwarzenegger said 'No' to the idea that bad people
can become better people. 'No' to a world view that our intellect yearns
for and our religion teaches us. With this 'No' Arnold Schwarzenegger has
turned himself into a barbarian. Here, on this side of the silver screen."
Meanwhile, Bild commentator Franz Josef Wagner is unlikely to make it onto
Schwarzenegger's Christmas card list. "I despise you", writes Wagner,
addressing the governor. "Conan the Barbarian made you famous. Sadly it
has remained the role of your life." Williams transformed himself in jail,
wrote books for children in the ghettos and was repeatedly nominated for
Nobel prizes for peace and literature, says Wagner. "It was such a man
that Schwarzenegger refused to let live. Barbarians are cold-hearted,
unfeeling, do bodybuilding."
Austria's Der Standard is critical, but with a little less foam at the
mouth. "The governor could have chosen to grant a pardon and still adhere
to Californian practice," writes the paper. "No one forces him to be so
extremely harsh. Besides, Williams had made visible signs that he had
turned his back on violence."
The Austrian tabloid Kurier runs a story summing up Austria's
disappointment in its hero, especially intense in the Styria region and
the city of Graz near where he was born. The Green party wants to strip
Schwarzenegger of his honorary citizenship of Graz and to find a new name
for the town's Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium, writes the paper. It quotes
Wolfgang Benedek, head of the human rights body ETC, as saying: "This man
is no longer a role model for Graz and Styria."
Back in Germany, Berliner Zeitung seizes on the Williams execution to
condemn capital punishment per se. It cites French philosopher Albert
Camus who described execution as the most premeditated of all murders with
which no killing, however calculated, can be compared. Some 3,000
prisoners are "vegetating" on death row, some of them spending decades
waiting for their final hour, writes the paper. "In the United States,
torture wasn't resurrected in the prisons of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, it
had already returned with the re-introduction of the death penalty in
Conservative daily Die Welt says Europe shouldn't be too quick to condemn
America's use of the death penalty. "Those Europeans who still bother
trying to fathom how Americans feel easily overlook that victims in
America have a much higher status than the rehabilitation of the criminal,
which is so central to the European system of justice," writes the paper.
The clerk who Williams shot in the back and the Taiwanese family he
murdered are closer to Americans than Tookie's proclaimed transformation
into a good citizen, the paper writes, noting that only 30 % of Americans
found his treatment unjust.
Left-wing Die Tageszeitung says Schwarzenegger chose the politically safe
option by refusing to pardon Williams. "Had he pardoned him he would
himself have been accountable. That doesn't fit in with the political
situation: Schwarzenegger hasn't yet overcome his defeats in recent
referenda and is under heavy pressure from the Republican right. Bad luck
for Stanley Williams."
(source: Der Spiegel)
Death row inmate gets life
A death row inmate who last year successfully challenged the mandatory
death sentence on the grounds that it was unconstitutional was yesterday
sentenced to life imprisonment for double murder.
Lambert Watson, a 44-year-old farmer, was convicted in the Hanover Circuit
Court 5 years ago for the 1997 murder of his common-law wife Eugenie
Samuels and their 9-month-old daughter Georgina Watson.
Mr. Watson was sentenced to hang. He chopped them to death because Samuels
was insisting that Mr. Watson should maintain the child.
After he lost this appeal in the Court of Appeal, his lawyers took the
case to the United Kingdom Privy Council which ruled that judges should
have the discretion to determine sentences in murder cases.
Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe, after hearing legal arguments from defence
lawyer Nancy Anderson and Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions,
Paula Llewellyn, sentenced Watson to life imprisonment on each count and
recommended that he should serve 20 years on each count before he was
eligible for parole. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Ms. Anderson said her client had embraced Christianity while in prison,
but the Chief Justice said pre-conditions of Christianity include
repenting and seeking forgiveness. He said the social enquiry report
indicated that Watson had not admitted to the crimes, despite the fact all
the evidence suggested he was responsible for committing them.
The Chief Justice told Watson that had it not been for the landmark Privy
Council ruling in the Pratt and Morgan case, (which ruled that persons on
death row for more than 5 years should have their sentences commuted to
life imprisonment), he would have imposed the death sentence on him.
(source: Jamaica Gleaner)
The execution in California yesterday of Stanley Tookie Williams has
refocused attention on the controversy over the efficacy and morality of
the death penalty or what opponents of capital punishment prefer to refer
to as judicial killing or state-sponsored murder.
Convicted in 1981 of the murder of 4 people - a shop assistant and the
owners of a hotel and their daughter - Williams, as a co-founder of a
notorious gang, appears to have been an unlikely candidate for martyrdom
in the eyes of those who sought in vain to save his life. The belief that
he found redemption during his long stay in prison is a conspicuous
component in the pleas for clemency that preceded his execution by a fatal
Controversy over the death penalty resonates powerfully in South Africa,
as former ANC Women's League president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela showed
when she unsuccessfully sought an interview with California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger to plead with him to show mercy for Williams. The
spectre of judicial execution stirs memories in South Africa of the use of
hanging as the ultimate brutal instrument of political control by the
previous government, the vast majority of people who died on the gallows
having been black.
Opinion polls, however, show that a clear majority of South Africans of
all races today favour the restoration of the death penalty in the belief
that it acts as a powerful deterrent against violent crime. The present
government is nevertheless vehemently opposed to capital punishment,
believing - with the Constitutional Court - that it is an unusually cruel
punishment that violates the ethos of the constitutionally enshrined bill
The onus is on those who favour the reinstitution of the death penalty to
prove 2 dubious assumptions upon which their case rests: that the death
penalty serves as a uniquely potent disincentive against murderous acts
and that there is no chance of an innocent man or woman dying on the
gallows. Until then South Africa's best option is probably to strengthen
the police force and increase the abysmally low conviction rate for
(source: Opinion, Editor, The Mercury)
Chinese official gets death penalty for graft
A Beijing court has sentenced to death a senior official of a securities
company for graft and embezzling public funds worth over 8 million US
Yang Yanming, formerly general manager of a Beijing trading business
department with China Yinhe Securities Co. Ltd., was sentenced to death
yesterday by the No.1 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing Municipality,
the state media reported on Wednesday.
The court was told that Yang, 57 served as general manager of Beijing
securities trading business department of China Great Wall Trust and
Investment Corporation during June 1998 and August 2003.
During this period, Yang altogether misused and embezzled about 12.03
million US dollars of public funds for his personal benefit, including
starting up a private company, purchasing real estate properties and
investing in futures business.
However, Yang, who had attempted suicide twice, refused to tell the
whereabouts of the 8.75 million US dollars or so of the total funds he
(source: The Times of India)
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