[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Dec 29 23:58:29 CST 2005
Briton in death penalty threat
A man from Manchester could face the death penalty after he was arrested
on a drug-trafficking charge in a holiday resort in Thailand.
Mark Freely, 45, was arrested by police on Christmas Day after about a
kilogram of cocaine was allegedly seized from his rented room in Pattaya.
Police Lt Col Theerasak Charoensri said today he was taken into custody on
charges of drug trafficking.
Thailand launched a war on drugs 3 years ago in a bid to crack down hard
on the problem and enforcement measures are severe.
The ultimate penalty is death by lethal injection, although in practice
the punishment for foreigners is normally commuted to life imprisonment -
In March last year, a 19-year old from Bury was sentenced to life for
smuggling 3,400 Ecstasy pills into Thailand. Unemployed Michael Connell
escaped the death sentence because he co-operated with the authorities.
Pattaya is one of Thailand's best known holiday resorts and hugely popular
with young people who travel for its uninhibited nightlife.
Its beaches offer a variety of water sports by day, but at night it
becomes alive with karaoke bars, restaurants and adult cabaret shows.
It is not known whether Mr Freely had travelled alone to the resort, or
whether he was with friends.
The Foreign Office said today it was unable to give any information,
except to say that consular assistance had been provided.
(source: Manchester Evening News)
Death penalty strains tie between Schwarzenegger and his native Austria
"I'll be back." That pledge from the Terminator traditionally has had
special meaning in Arnold Schwarzeneggers hometown.
But the romance is now over between Schwarzenegger and Graz, Austria's
2nd-largest city, after the California governor refused to spare the lives
of 3 convicted murderers and shows no signs of preventing another
execution scheduled for next month.
Acting on Schwarzenegger's orders 2 weeks after the Dec. 13 execution of
former Crips gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams, city leaders Tuesday
deleted all references to the bodybuilder-turned-governor on Web sites
linked to Graz. Over the weekend, they also stripped his name from the
citys soccer stadium.
And "Arnie," as he is known in the city of his youth, also sent back Graz'
highest award - its ring of honor - as part of moves provoked by city
council threats to rename the stadium because of his support for the death
He tried to soothe passions in a Dec. 19 letter, saying he still planned
to visit. But that pledge is now more threat than promise for Austrians,
who overwhelmingly consider the death penalty barbaric.
Sigi Binder of the environmentalist Green party in Graz says that in just
2 days more than 1,500 people signed her party's online petition to rename
the stadium. The appeal was closed to further signatures when
Schwarzenegger himself demanded that his name be dropped.
(source: Associated Press)
Rosenbergs' son visits Japan on anti-death penalty mission
When Robert Meeropol was 6 years old in 1953, his parents Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg were executed in the electric chair after being accused of
leaking atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.
Now, more than half a century later after the traumatizing incident,
Meeropol, a lawyer, is a strong opponent of the death penalty.
As a busy public speaker, Meeropol, 58, visited Tokyo in early December
for a five-day trip to share his experience at a conference on human
rights and the death penalty, hosted by the European Commission, the
American Bar Association and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Following the execution of his parents, he and his older brother Michael
were adopted by songwriters Abel and Anne Meeropol, with their identities
kept secret for many years.
Majoring in anthropology at the University of Michigan with the hope of
becoming a professor, Meeropol led a campaign to reopen his parents' case
in the 1970s, which eventually led him to law school at age 32.
He says he was not opposed to the death penalty until he learned at law
school about the imperfections of the U.S. judicial system.
"People's desire for revenge through capital punishment is only natural
because they get angry. But that doesn't necessarily make it right or
healthy," he says, pointing out that the possibility of executing innocent
people cannot be ruled out.
Meeropol, however, does not claim that his parents were completely
His efforts to reopen his parents' case eventually led a successful suit,
in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence
Agency disclosed 300,000 pages of related documents.
"My mother was not a spy, and I am not sure if my father did anything, but
he didn't do the things that he was killed for," Meeropol says. "I believe
that they were both wrongfully convicted and wrongfully executed because I
believe every execution is wrongful."
Comparing the death penalty to the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and
Hiroshima during World War II, he calls it "the same failure to understand
the worldwide application of consistent standards of what consists of
human rights abuse and what are human rights."
For many decades, Meeropol has claimed capital punishment does not give
closure to murder victims' families and only creates new victims families
of victims of "state killings."
Meeropol says that once a murderer is executed, prosecutors and
governments abandon the victims' families, saying it is all done, and they
are taken care of, but actually they are not.
"It takes more time, energy and money to help someone," he says. "I think
that a lot of the government officials that say 'we are doing it for the
families' are using it as a cover for their real agenda, which is to
increase their power."
The 1,000th execution recently took place in the United States, while
tallies show that more people are sentenced to death each year in Japan as
well, with 78 people on death row in Japan, though it has only carried out
1 or 2 per year in recent years, according to the Japan Federation of Bar
Meeropol says people support the death penalty out of fear and anger, and
that the Japanese government's secrecy surrounding the execution process
and death row inmates may also serve as a way to gain public support.
Citing the example of the Japanese government's ban on the photographing
of death row inmates, he says, "This is part of the government's effort to
make these people on death row somehow not human, a process we call
"If all of these people are human monsters and we don't understand their
humanity, it is easier to execute them," he said.
He fears that capital punishment can also be used by the governments in
power as a political instrument of repression as well as of extortion, and
that there may be innocent people who confess to murder because they are
scared of being executed.
"Democracy in some ways is based on suspicions of governmental power ...
If you think about capital punishment, the ultimate power, it is
antithetical to the concept of democracy in that manner because if we
don't trust the government, do we really want to give them the power of
life and death?" he asked.
Meeropol is also a director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights,
an international nongovernmental organization supporting families of
victims of murder, terrorist killings, state executions, extrajudicial
assassinations, and "disappearances" working to oppose the death penalty
from a human rights perspective. He said that his work with this group has
made him believe that closure comes when the psychological community is
"I've even seen a lot of victims' family members who end up working
against the death penalty feeling good because they feel like they are
making something good come out of their loved one's death as opposed to
just causing more killing," he said.
He also established the Rosenberg Fund for Children 15 years ago in order
to support the educational and emotional needs of children of targeted
progressive activists, and youth who are targeted activists themselves.
The fund has 10,000 supporters and awarded $325,000 to several hundred
children this year.
"I would say society faces challenges with every murder," Meeropol said.
"How do we make something good come of that? How do we try to make it
better so that it is unlikely to happen again? Well, we don't do that by
(source: 2005 Kyodo News)
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