[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 22 09:28:52 CST 2005
Head to head: Death penalty
The shooting in Bradford of trainee policewoman Sharon Beshenivsky has
prompted renewed calls for the return of the death penalty for those who
kill police officers.
But should we bring back hanging? Leading figures from both side of the
debate discuss the issue:
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP REPRIEVE
There are doubts that the Guantanamo detainees will get a fair trial.
How can the death of a police officer suddenly be the reason to have the
death penalty when killing two little children in Soham wasn't?
First let's be clear I have tremendous sympathy for the victims and the
fact one's opposed to the death penalty does not mean one is in favour of
innocent people being killed.
There are 2 things about the death penalty. The first is that I've
witnessed 6 people being executed in the electric chair and by lethal
injection and in one of those 6 they managed to execute an innocent
They executed Edward E Johnson, in Mississippi in 1987. He was innocent
and I was representing him and I failed him.
So until you convince me that human beings are infallible, you're not
going to get me to agree to the death penalty.
The other thing about the death penalty is that it achieves absolutely
Whenever you witness it it's always at night because we are really
uncomfortable about the whole process.
When you come out of the execution chamber and look up at the stars and
ask yourself, 'Is the world suddenly a better place because that person
has been executed?' the answer is 'No'.
It does nothing for the victims either. We drag them through appeals and
appeals and stays and it just ruins their lives.
The death penalty achieves nothing except to degrade us all.
There are many arguments but to take the bottom line, which is really
important for me, we should ask whether we should be in the business of
And when you put it bluntly, should we encourage our citizens to be
vengeful or compassionate? We all know the answer but it's somehow still
possible for people to argue for the death penalty.
I always think of Lorilei Guillory, the mother of a six-year-old child who
was killed by one of my clients, Ricky Langley, who was given lots of
false promises by the prosecution that she would feel better if he was
But she finally realised it was awful and ended up testifying for us that
she didn't want him to die. She is someone I admire and respect immensely.
In the US it costs 2 1/2 times as much to execute someone as it does to
keep them in prison for ever.
Some people argue they should speed the process up to make it cheaper but
they make so many mistakes that if this happened they would simply end up
executing more innocent people.
MICHAEL WINNER, POLICE MEMORIAL TRUST CHAIRMAN
Michael Winner: "We're far too nice to those attacking us"
I extend it to more than people who kill police officers. The laws in this
country are stacked against the good people and in favour of the bad
I mean, what is the point of keeping people alive at great expense in
prison when they're murderers and villains and of incredible evil.
There's no question if the nation voted on this there would be an
overwhelming vote for the death penalty and the nation is right.
We're far too nice to those who are attacking us and murdering us and
raping us, far too kind. They get a minimal sentence and they're out in
half an hour anyway and there's no deterrent, so I'm definitely for the
death penalty and for the police having guns so they can protect
If those two girls had gone in with guns, and they'd been trained of
course to use the guns, we don't know what would have happened. It may be
the villain got shot and killed, in which case I would say 'hooray'.
In every battle against evil, sadly, very sadly, some innocent people do
die. Otherwise we wouldn't have fought WWII and we'd all be under German
Of course people have made mistakes but they're very rare and we face
increasing danger from vicious gangs from eastern Europe, from China, from
Africa and our own home-grown gangs as well.
Guns can be bought very easily and the police should have guns and there
should be a death penalty for a number of offences.
I'm not convinced the world is not a better place for the victims [when
the culprit is executed] - well of course if the victim's dead, that's all
over but a victim's family would be, I would think on the whole, delighted
that the person who had killed their young son or daughter received the
(source: BBC News)
Top Singapore lawyer slams death penalty
One of Singapore's top criminal defence lawyers says the city-state should
abandon its use of the mandatory death penalty.
Speaking ahead of next week's scheduled execution of Australian drug
trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van, Subhas Anandan said if Singapore's courts had
more discretion, the Melbourne man may have avoided death row.
"I am not opposed to the death sentence, but I am not in favour of the
mandatory death sentence," Subhas told AAP.
Subhas has handled more than 50 capital cases in Singapore over the past
35 years, and is regarded as one of the country's leading legal
Nguyen, 25, is set to be hanged at dawn on Friday December 2 after being
caught with almost 400 grams of heroin while in transit at Changi Airport
Singapore law mandates that those caught with more than 15 grams of heroin
are deemed traffickers.
A judge must sentence someone to death if they are found guilty of
Nguyen was convicted, lost his appeal and has now had all bids for
clemency rejected by the Singapore authorities, including repeated appeals
from the Australian government.
Subhas said it was essential that judges in Singapore be allowed to weigh
the circumstances of each case when deciding an appropriate sentence.
The judge has to be able "to look at the circumstances in which things
have been done," said Subhas.
"Sometimes the reasons vary, so I think that the judge should be given the
discretion whether to impose the death sentence or not," he said.
The comments put him at odds with Singapore's government, which has
consistently argued that compulsory use of the gallows is a vital part of
its criminal justice system.
"Even in drug cases, there are cases where there are 15 grams, 20 grams,
one kilogram," said Subhas.
"I am not saying that he (Nguyen) doesn't deserve the death sentence," he
"I am saying that if judges are given the discretion he - along with many
others - may not have got the death sentence."
Amid the mounting anger in Australia about Nguyen's likely fate, the use
of mandatory death sentencing has also drawn fire from the United Nations.
Philip Alston, a Geneva-based Australian who monitors the death penalty
for the world body, said last week that a black-and-white approach is
entirely inappropriate where the life of the accused is at stake.
Subhas is well known for his defence work.
One tabloid dubbed him "public defender number one" for his high profile
Singapore also imposes the mandatory death sentence for murder, certain
firearms offences and kidnapping.
Amnesty International has said the country probably executes more people
relative to its size that any other state worldwide.
Family visits Nguyen on Changi death row
The mother and twin brother of convicted Australian drug trafficker Nguyen
Tuong Van visited him in Singapore on Tuesday, just days before his
Kim Nguyen and son Khoa, who arrived in the city-state on Monday night,
spent about an hour in the morning with Nguyen, 25.
It is understood that they were separated during the visit by a pane of
No direct contact was permitted, in line with standard practice at Changi
It was the 1st time the twins had seen each other since Nguyen's bid for
Nguyen was arrested in late December 2002 in transit at Changi Airport,
the major air hub that lies just a few kilometres from his current cell on
Singapore's death row.
After being convicted, losing his appeal and having all pleas for clemency
rejected, Nguyen is scheduled to be executed at dawn on Friday, December
Mrs Nguyen will be allowed daily weekday visits of about an hour, until
the final 3 days before her son is put to death.
Longer visits will then be permitted by the authorities between next
Tuesday and Thursday, although no personal contact will be allowed.
It was unclear whether Mrs Nguyen will be permitted to see her son this
Saturday and Sunday, which could be his final weekend.
Surrounded by barbed wire and tall fencing in the far eastern tip of the
island state, Changi Prison is Singapore's main jail complex.
The imposing facility sits on the same site as the historic Changi Prison
that was used by the Japanese to house Australian and other Allied POWs
during World War II.
But the prison housing Nguyen, others on death row and ordinary inmates is
a modern structure built in recent years.
(source for both: AAP)
Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says he discussed the case of
an Australian man on death row in Singapore with the national president of
Van Nguyen, 25, faces execution in Singapore for smuggling around 400
grams of heroin into Changi airport in 2002.
He is due to be hanged next week.
His mother and brother have arrived in Singapore to say their final
Mr Ruddock says he discussed the case with the human rights group, but
says there is little the government can do.
"I've been a long standing supporter of Amnesty's mandate in opposition to
the death penalty," he said.
"It's still used in a number of countries around the world, including
developed countries like the United States.
"I don't think it's the mark of a civilised society."
(source: ABC Radio Australia)
Europe MPs Urge Singapore to Spare Australian's Life
European parliamentarians criticized Singapore's mandatory death penalty
on Tuesday and urged the government to stop next week's scheduled
execution of a 25-year-old Australian drug smuggler.
Nguyen Tuong Van, convicted by Singapore of trying to smuggle 400 grams
(0.9 lb) of heroin from Cambodia, is to be hanged on December 2 despite
repeated pleas from Australia to reconsider clemency for the former
"The death penalty is firmly rejected in the European Parliament, but it
is applied here. Clearly, we have different positions,'' Hartmut Nassauer,
chairman of the delegation for relations with Southeast Asia, told
reporters at a briefing in Singapore.
"We believe in universal democracy, rights and human law."
Singapore, which has the highest execution rate in the world relative to
population according to a 2004 report by Amnesty International, has a
compulsory death penalty for murder and drug trafficking.
Nguyen's mother and twin brother arrived at Singapore's Changi airport
late on Monday and were quickly whisked away by officials from the
Frithjof Schmidt, a member of the European Green Party, urged Canberra to
take the case to an international court, a day after lawyers for Nguyen
asked the Australian government to have the United Nations International
Court of Justice hear the case.
"There should be a debate in an international court, given the gravity of
the punishment for someone just transporting drugs," Schmidt told Reuters.
Schmidt urged the Singapore government to grant Nguyen clemency.
"I would like to appeal to the government not to execute him and to go
back to a trial that is in line with international standards," he said.
The delegates met Nguyen's Singapore-based lawyer during their visit, he
Last week, a senior United Nations official, Philip Alston, criticized
Singapore's decision to execute Nguyen, saying that it was violating
international norms on use of the death penalty.
But Singapore said Alston was trying to "mislead the public" and
maintained that there is no international consensus that capital
punishment should be abolished.
The city-state added that it had the sovereign right to impose the death
penalty as part of its criminal justice system.
Australia, which opposes capital punishment, says that Nguyen was carrying
the drugs to help his brother pay off debts to loan sharks. It asked for
clemency on the grounds that he had cooperated with authorities and could
be a witness in future drug cases.
GLITTER FACES EXECUTION BY FIRING SQUAD----He's investigated over sex with
GARY Glitter faces the ultimate penalty for his perverted lust - death by
The shamed pop star could soon be on trial for his life after claims that
he had sex with a girl of 12.
An unnamed youngster has told detectives he paid 5.50 a time to abuse her
at his seafront villa in Vietnam.
Under local law, sex with a minor can be a capital offence. Child rape
carries the maximum penalty of being shot dead in a military-style
A police spokesman said the girl's story was still being investigated.
But he added: "Having sex with a 12-year-old, regardless of whether he had
her consent, is still considered child rape under Vietnamese law."
A lesser offence of "obscene acts with a child" carries a 12-year prison
Another girl aged 18 is also said to have taken part in the sordid
Last night police were questioning 61-year-old Glitter over the latest
child sex allegations.
He was arrested under his real name Paul Francis Gadd at Ho Chi Minh
airport as he tried to leave the country on a flight to Bangkok at the
Police had been searching for him since he fled his rented villa in Vung
Tau on November 12 amid allegations of lewd acts with a minor.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the arrest of a
British national and consular support is being provided." She added that
Glitter was seeking a lawyer.
Vietnamese newspapers said the star had been seen in Vung Tau with several
teenage girls. They claimed he invited them to his home where he had lived
It was reported that the 2 girls were hired as prostitutes. The
12-year-old said she had sex with Glitter on 3 occasions.
Glitter's neighbours were surprised by the allegations. They said the only
problem they had with him was when he brought home friends and they sang
too loudly. Tran Cong Khanh, 48, said: "I never suspected anything. I
thought he just liked children."
He said that in recent months 2 girls in their mid-teens became frequent
visitors and were often heard laughing and talking in Glitter's swimming
Vietnam's home ministry spokesman Le Dung said: "If evidence of a
violation is found - and especially evidence of sexual child abuse - I
believe that very strict legal measures will apply to him."
Glitter was convicted in Britain in 1999 of having child pornography on
his home computer and served half a 4-month jail sentence before being
released. He later went to Cambodia and was expelled in 2002 after
allegedly trawling for under-age sex.
AT LEAST 64 executions have been carried out in recent times in Vietnam -
the highest number after China and Iran. 5 people were sentenced to death
for child rape in 1997 and 2 more faced a firing squad in the last 3
FALL AND FALL OF POP PERV
BY the height of his fame in 1975, Gary Glitter had sold 18 million
records and was an international superstar.
His break-through came with Rock and Roll (Part 2) in 1972 and many hits
But heavy drinking, drug binges and the waning popularity of "glam rock"
led to him being declared bankrupt in 1980.
He and wife Anne split after 9 years. Their children Paul and Sarah are
now in their 40s.
It was a massive fall for Glitter, the son of an Oxfordshire cleaner who
never knew his father. His comeback, which saw him appearing in clubs and
starring in the New Zealand production of the Rocky Horror Show, was
But it ended when he handed his faulty home computer into a PC World shop
A store technician discovered more than 4,000 images of child porn on his
The images were said to be "about as hardcore, about as degrading as it is
possible to be". Some of the children were as young as 2. He was jailed
for 4 months at Bristol crown court for possessing the pictures.
Following his release, he fled to Cuba were he set up home with a
girlfriend - but he was tracked down and returned to Britain.
He fled to Cambodia where he was threatened with arrest and deportation as
Glitter's next move was to Vietnam - but, under strict local laws, it
could be his last if he is found guilty of sex with a girl of 12.
(source: The Mirror)
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