[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 1 15:30:12 CST 2005
Mafia bosss henchman gets death penalty
A Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced Monday the "number 2" of a notorious
mafia gang to death by firing squad for murder, bribery, and gambling
Nguyen Van Tho, dubbed "Captain Tho", was the henchman of Nam Cam, the
countrys most notorious mafia boss, who was executed by firing squad last
year after the downfall of his underworld empire in 2003.
The HCMC People's Court also ruled a 4-year jail term to an ex-prosecutor
who took money from Tho to cover up his crimes.
Three former local police officers were sentenced to jail terms ranging
from 30 months to 3 years, while 2 others to 2 years' probation, all for
Tho's most notorious crime was the murder of local police officer Pham
Thanh Son and his friend Ho Phuoc Hung in January 2000. At the court, he
confessed to masterminding the killing and to his role in Nam Cams
Tho's son who also involved in the murders executed last year.
(source: Thanhnien News)
Justice minister quickly retracts comment refusing to sign death penalty
After causing a commotion during his first day on the job, Justice
Minister Seiken Sugiura on Tuesday retracted a comment indicating he would
not allow a death sentence to be carried out.
"The comment was an expression of my feelings as an individual and was not
made in relation to the conducting of the duties and responsibilities of a
justice minister who must oversee the legal system," Sugiura said in a
statement Tuesday. "I would like to correct my statement because I would
regret any misunderstandings I might have caused by the remark."
As justice minister, Sugiura's signature is needed on documents before an
execution can be carried out. But Sugiura, a lawyer by training, told
reporters Monday, "I will not sign the documents."
His comment came just hours after he was appointed justice minister in the
At the news conference, Sugiura brought up the case of Turkey abolishing
the death penalty in 2004 in an attempt to gain membership in the European
"From the standpoint of a theory of civilizations, I believe the general
trend from a long-term perspective will be to move toward abolishment (of
the death penalty system)," Sugiura said.
When asked why he held such an opinion, Sugiura said, "It is an issue of
my personal feelings as well as my views on religion and philosophy."
Sugiura's comments surprised many people--both those for and against
"It is a very serious statement," said Yoshihiro Yasuda, a lawyer who has
handled many cases involving the death penalty. "I welcome the comment
from the perspective of the international circumstances leading to a
spread of the abolition of the death penalty as well as the view that the
base of future society should be humanitarianism."
Others were more critical of Sugiura's remark.
Shizue Takahashi, whose husband died in the March 20, 1995, sarin gas
attack on the Tokyo subway system and who is now a leader of a victims'
group, said, "As one bereaved family member, I cannot accept the thinking
of the justice minister."
Yoshiyuki Kono, who was wrongly blamed for a sarin gas attack in Nagano
Prefecture in 1994 that killed 7 people, opposes the death penalty, but
said he felt uncomfortable with Sugiura's comment.
"Saying 'I will not sign. Let my successor do as he pleases" sounds like
the justice minister is abandoning his responsibility. If he really feels
that way, he should work for legal changes that would abolish the death
penalty," Kono said.
Diet members pushing for legal changes to abolish the death penalty were
encouraged by Sugiura's remark, even after the retraction was issued.
"Justice Ministry officials were probably running around frantically after
the unexpected comment," said Nobuto Hosaka, a member of the Diet members'
league seeking to abolish the death penalty.
"Even if he retracted his comment, it will still give us momentum for a
bill to establish a research commission on the death penalty."
Sugiura is not the 1st justice minister to express doubts about capital
In 1990, Megumi Sato, a justice minister for then Prime Minister Toshiki
Kaifu, refused to sign documents to carry out death sentences for about a
year on the grounds that his other role as a Buddhist priest prevented him
from doing so.
His successor, Masaharu Gotoda, criticized Sato's position.
"If a justice minister refuses (to carry out the death penalty) because of
his personal beliefs, feelings or religious views, I believe it is wrong
to appoint such an individual as justice minister to begin with," Gotoda
As of Friday, there were 77 convicts on death row. Several hangings a year
have been carried out recently.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instructed Cabinet members Tuesday
morning to "be fully careful" about their remarks.
"I understand it has been a custom for you to make various comments on an
off-the-record basis, but from today, I want you to stop it," Koizumi
Sugiura's remarks on the death penalty, however, were not off the record.
(source: IHT/Asahi Shimbun)
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