[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Sep 4 23:08:38 CDT 2005
In death row review... 4 resentenced to die
4 of 45 convicted murderers on death row will die, the Jamaican courts
have reaffirmed under the resentencing review of mandatory death penalty
cases, only half of which have been disposed of to date.
But many more have had their death sentences overturned, and their
punishment downgraded to life sentences, under the review sparked by last
July's Privy Council ruling in the case of Lambert Watson versus the
Queen, which held that the death penalty was not mandatory, and that
judges are to be given more discretion in handing down sentences.
At least 1 convict of the 22 cases already re-assessed comes up for a
parole hearing in 15 years.
The 4 men still slated for execution are:
- Delroy Stewart, who scalped a 12-year-old girl after raping her;
- Mark Watson, for the murder of a 68-year-old security guard to cover up
- Michael Asserope, a rapist and killer of a 10-year-old girl; and
- Ian Gordon, convicted for the 2000 double murder of his cousin and
Since August 8, the appeals court has also re-sentenced 11 of the convicts
to between 15 and 45 years to life, and reaffirmed seven cases that had
been commuted from death to life imprisonment by the Governor General.
"I am personally very pleased with the enlightened approach of some of our
judges in the sentencing hearing process," Wayne Denny, Privy Council
legal officer at the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR),
commented to the Sunday Observer.
"This approach, I think, forms the basis for my new found optimism that a
Caribbean Court of Justice may be able to stand on its own, in the very
The other 23 cases have been adjourned for various reasons, including some
with appeals pending, inadequate psychiatric reports and social inquiry
Watson, the man whose case brought the landmark ruling, was convicted in
1997 for the double murder of his common-law wife Eugenie Samuels and
their daughter Georgina, in Hanover.
Watson had stabbed both multiple times, in retaliation against a child
maintenance suit that had been brought against him.
His case is one of the 23 still pending. A psychiatric report is to be put
before the court at his next scheduled appearance on September 30.
Watson's conviction had carried an automatic death penalty, but last
July's majority ruling from a special nine-member Privy Council panel that
included former Jamaican chief justice Edward Zacca, held that while the
death penalty was constitutional it was not automatic, in cases of capital
"It will, therefore, be open to the court in these cases (where the law
authorises the death sentence) either to impose the death sentence or to
impose a lesser punishment, depending on the view it takes of the crime
which the defendant committed and all the relevant circumstances," the
special panel held.
Denny said the Privy Council ruling did not prevent the future application
of the death penalty, but instead gave the courts the discretion to impose
a lesser punishment.
"We are pleased with the ruling and the judges have been forced to take an
enlightened approach to the issue," he said.
As for the remaining 23 cases, Denny said Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe's
wish was for all the cases to be disposed of before the Summer recess of
the courts, but that the timetable would be breached.
The listing of cases show court hearings extending to December 27 this
year. At least six of the cases are pending psychiatric reports, another 3
are awaiting Privy Council appeal rulings; and in four cases, the hearings
were delayed because the lawyers were out of the country.
Interestingly, in the case of Kevin Mayne (said to be mentally ill) and
Jeffrey Miller, they were ordered taken off death row as they had both
been there for more than the five-year cut-off stipulated under the Pratt
and Morgan ruling. Their case comes up again on September 23.
Following the Watson ruling, government moved quickly to address the
situation, and brought legislation to Parliament, which has been passed by
both Houses, amending the Offences Against the Person Act.
Prior to its amendment, Section 2(1) of the Act had provided for the
mandatory death penalty in the case of murder of any member of the
security forces, a correctional officer, a Justice of the Peace or a
judicial officer acting in the course of their duties.
The mandatory death penalty had also been applied to other categories of
murder, including the killing of a witness, or murders carried out in the
furtherance of a robbery, house-breaking, arson of a dwelling house, or
The amendment allows judges to decide on the death penalty based on the
circumstances of the case before the court, and to hear character
testimony before passing testimony.
But in turn the law now also imposes "upon the court a duty to specify a
period of imprisonment which the offender should serve before becoming
eligible for parole."
Among the 45 cases were 7 who already had their sentences commuted to life
under the Pratt and Morgan ruling of 1993 - namely, Anthony Rose, Kenneth
Clark, Junior Wright, Morris Boreland, Titus Henry, Donnovan Mulllings and
Denny said the GG's decision cannot be altered, adding that on that basis,
their inclusion on the current review list was inexplicable.
"The commutations were made by way of an executive order of the Governor
General and cannot be altered by the Court of Appeal," he told the Sunday
Earl Pratt and Ivan Morgan were on death row for more than a decade and
they took their cases to the Privy Council.
In what was also another landmark ruling in 1993, the Privy Council held
that executions must be carried out within 5 years, or the punishment
becomes cruel and inhumane.
Breakdown of 22 reviewed death penalty cases:
4 re-sentenced to death:
11 re-sentenced to life imprisonment:
Kevin Simmonds 15 years to life
Hopeton Barclay 20 years to life
Rudolph Fuller 25 years to life
Trevor White, Nigel Calder, Alan Beecher 25 years to life
Brian Rankine, Carl McHargh and Kenneth Myrie 30 years to life
Roderick Fisher 40 years to life
Orville Murray 45 years to life
7 previously commuted by Governor General:
Crimes of the 4
Ian Gordon: In October 2003, Ian Gordon, then 33-years-old, and a sound
system technician from Gordon Town, in St Andrew was sentenced to hang,
after he was convicted of murder in the Home Circuit Court.
Gordon was found guilty of the August 2000 shooting murders of his cousin,
Garfield Gordon, of Tavern Drive in Gordon Town; and Vincent Rafington,
42, also of Gordon Town.
Police picked up 25 spent shells at the scene.
Michael Assserope: The taxi-operator was sentenced to death in 1999, after
he was convicted of the rape and murder of 10-year-old Tamara Osbourne, a
grade 4 student of the Denbigh Primary School in Clarendon.
Asserope confessed to the police that he abducted, raped and cut the
girl's throat in June 1998. At the time, he was said to have had a
relationship with the sister of the murdered child.
Delroy Stewart: A labourer of Rose Hall, St Catherine, Stewart was
convicted on September 24, 2002 of the capital murder of 12-year-old
Kimone Lewis on August 4, 2001.
Kimon disappeared while running an errand. A search by community members
resulted in the gruesome find that night of her naked body in bushes near
to the community centre in the district. She had been sexually assaulted
Mark Watson: The security guard was convicted of the murder of 68-year-old
Malvin Gayle, also a security guard, on October 29, 1999, while on guard
duty at the First Life Insurance Company building in New Kingston.
Watson slashed the throat of the elderly guard and stabbed him 19 times.
Watson was later found with Gayle's watch, blood on his clothes, $5,640 in
cash and a promissory note, which was taken from a vault in the buildng
where the murder was committed.
(source: Jamaica Observer)
Iraq confirms Saddam trial will start Oct.19
The trial of Iraq's former strongman Saddam Hussein and 7 associates will
start on Oct. 19, the government announced Sunday. In northern Iraq,
clashes were continuing in an ethnically mixed insurgent stronghold,
medical workers said.
The announcement by government spokesman Laith Kubba confirmed unofficial
reports that the former strongman and several of his closest aides will
face a special tribunal immediately after the national referendum on
Iraq's constitution on Oct. 15.
Kubba said seven co-defendants from Saddam's regime would also face trial.
They include: Barazan Ibrahim, intelligence chief at the time and Saddam's
half brother; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Hamed
al-Bandar, at the time a Baath party official in Dujail, Kubba said.
The eight men will be charged with responsibility for the 1982 massacre of
143 Shiites in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad, after a failed
assassination attempt. If found guilty, Saddam could receive the death
U.S. occupation authorities scrapped the death penalty soon after the 2003
war, but the new Iraqi government later reinstated it so it would have the
option of executing Saddam if he is convicted of crimes committed during
Saddam is expected to face about a dozen trials for alleged crimes
committed by his regime, including the gassing of Kurds in Halabja and the
1991 suppression of a Shiite uprising in the south.
"The charges against Saddam are so many (and) regardless of how many years
he is going to live, the charges and trials would not end," Kubba said.
"We urge anybody who has documents related to Saddam trial to present them
to the tribunal," Kubba said.
Saddam's Iraqi lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, could not be reached for
comment. A judge said it would be routine for al-Dulaimi to ask for an
adjournment of the trial for procedural reasons.
Meanwhile, fighting was continuing for a 3rd day in Tal Afar, a town about
260 miles northwest of Baghdad, said Dr. Abdel al-Kamal from the local
U.S. and Iraqi officials urged civilians to leave affected areas of the
city, a sign that the Americans were preparing a major assault. U.S.
forces crushed insurgents there last fall, leaving only about 500 American
soldiers behind and handing over control to the Iraqis.
But Iraqi authorities lost control of the city, and insurgent ranks
swelled. That forced the U.S. command to shift the 3rd Armored Cavalry
Regiment from the Baghdad area to Tal Afar to restore order.
On Saturday, U.S. and Iraqi forces were firing at insurgents on the
western side of the city, Iraqi officials said. Elsewhere, American and
Iraqi forces were moving house-to-house, searching for weapons and
arresting men capable of firing them, Iraqi authorities said.
Hospital officials said they were unsure of casualties because it was too
dangerous for ambulances to reach the area. Officials said they hoped to
get ambulances into the area Sunday.
U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped that a new constitution, finalized Aug.
28 after weeks of intense negotiations, would help bring Iraq's factions
together and in time lure Sunni Arabs away from the Sunni-dominated
Instead, the bitter talks sharpened communal tensions, at a time when both
Sunnis and Shiites accused extremists from the other community of killing
their civilians. Discreet talks are under way to make changes in the
language of the draft to ease Sunni Arab hostility to the document.
However, both Sunni and Shiite community leaders are gearing up for a
decisive political battle in the referendum. Sunni clerics are urging
their followers to reject the charter while most of the Shiite clergy
(source: Associated Press)
Saddam Lawyer Rejects Trial Date as Too Early
Saddam Hussein's chief attorney dismissed statements from the Iraqi
government that the former president's trial would begin on October 19 as
"invalid" and said on Saturday he needed "years" just to read the
"The defense team has not been informed about the decision and has not
signed it. It is invalid," Khalil Dulaimi told Reuters, adding that in any
case he did not recognize the legitimacy of the Special Tribunal set up to
try Saddam and his aides.
He also complained that there was not enough time to study all the
documents related to the trial: "It will take years to study the 36 tonnes
It seems unlikely the lawyer's protest will be heeded. Saddam and several
aides will go on trial on October 19, an Iraqi government source said on
The process, for the killing of dozens of Shi'ite villagers at Dujail in
1982, will therefore be starting just a few days after a referendum on a
new constitution that the U.S.-backed authorities intend to bury the
legacy of his dictatorship.
The source, who is not attached to the Special Tribunal actually trying
the deposed president and his aides for crimes against humanity, forecast
a quick trial and execution.
"After what he did, how can we not execute him?" he said.
On Thursday, Iraq hanged its first three criminals since Saddam was
overthrown in 2003 and officials in the Shi'ite-led government have made
clear they want a death sentence for a man they blame for the deaths of
The trial may stir passions among some minority Sunni Arabs, who dominated
Iraq under Saddam and before. In some demonstrations this past week
against the new constitution, his face reappeared in public, on placards
Saddam followers also play a role in the violence against U.S. troops and
forces loyal to the Shi'ite-led government.
For that reason, the timing of the trial has been sensitive; judicial
officials indicated last month that the Dujail hearings would be ready to
start by the beginning of October, so the choice of Wednesday October 19
appears politically driven to avoid it clashing with the referendum
The timing of any conviction and sentencing, and indeed execution, may be
similarly affected by a parliamentary election due in December. Officials
say the trial will not run into years or anything like the time former
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been before the international
court at The Hague.
Weeks rather than months, was a forecast by one official involved in the
process. He also said recently it was possible that Saddam might be
executed if convicted only of the killings at Dujail, so that further
trials for mass murder against Kurds and Shi'ites and other offences might
never take place.
The Iraqi government, reflecting a popular mood, seems keen on dispatching
the former leader quickly, hence the choice of the relatively small Dujail
case to begin the process.
Prosecutors have said Saddam's direct responsibility for the deaths may be
easier to prove. The case involves the deaths of possibly more than 140
men from the village, north of Baghdad, where Saddam survived an
assassination attempt in 1982.
The trial, which officials have said will probably largely be televised,
will be held in a specially prepared building inside the fortified Green
Zone government compound which was once Saddam's presidential palace
complex on the Tigris.
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