[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Mar 9 11:45:33 CST 2006
Case review held for death row militants
In Jakarta, a court in religiously-divided Central Sulawesi province on
Thursday held a judicial review for 3 Christians on death row for inciting
religious violence in the region.
In an unusual move the trio were granted a second review even though their
first was rejected in March 2004. Under Indonesian law, a review hearing
can be held for death row inmates if lawyers unearth fresh evidence.
The case review hearing for Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marianus
Riwu, who were jailed in April 2001, was held at the district court in the
provincial capital of Palu, said court official Andi Rusman.
The men were found guilty of inciting some of the violence between
Christians and Muslims which resulted in at least 1,000 deaths between
2000 and 2001.
A government-brokered truce went into force in December that year but
intermittent bombings, shootings and other attacks targeting Christians
have continued in Poso and other areas.Muslim extremists are believed
linked to them.
Legal aid group PADMA said last month it had evidence showing that 16
people -- and not the 3 men -- had masterminded the violence.
Central Sulawesi police chief Oegroseno said last week that the men would
be shot by a firing squad this month since President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono had refused to pardon them last year, the state news agency
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-populated nation, but Christians
and Muslims live in roughly equal numbers in parts of the eastern island
chain of Sulawesi and in Maluku.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Pak upholds Sarabjit's death sentence
The Pakistani Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence on Sarabjit
Sarabjit had been convicted of spying and for being the mastermind behind
4 bomb blasts in Pakistan in 1991 that killed 14 people.
Singh's defence team filed 4 separate petitions for review, 1 for each of
the four bomb blasts, after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against
his conviction last year.
Singh's lawyer, Rana Abdul Hameed, said a two-judge bench of the Supreme
Court dismissed the 1st petition on technical grounds, saying it had been
filed too late.
On Thursday, the verdict confirmed the death sentence on the second review
Following the judgement, Rana said he will be drafting a mercy petition
which would be submitted to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
Singh's family says he is a poor farmer from Amritsar who accidentally
wandered into Pakistan in 1990 while he was drunk.
Pakistani officials say Singh was arrested while trying to slip back into
India after the bomb blasts.
However, his defence lawyer says Sarabjit's is a case of mistaken
Singh is currently lodged in the high security Kot Lakhpath jail near
Appeals from India through non-formal channels led to high-level
assurances from Pakistan that his case had been brought to the attention
of Musharraf and the President had promised to look into his mercy plea.
Yemen Editor Faces Death Penalty Over Mohammed Cartoons
Authorities in a number of Muslims countries have acted against newspapers
for publishing the controversial Mohammed cartoons, but in Yemen a
journalist may soon be fighting for his life after prosecutors demanded
Yemen Observer Editor-in-Chief Muhammad al-Asadi was arrested after his
English-language weekly paper published the cartoons early last month to
illustrate how news reporting about their publication in European papers
had sparked a global uproar.
According to the paper, the cartoons were presented in "thumbnail" size,
and "obscured with a thick black cross."
Nonetheless, al-Asadi was accused of violating a law prohibiting the
publication of anything that harms Islam, and the government suspended the
Observer's license. Two independent Arabic-language papers are also facing
legal action separately for reproducing the cartoons.
Al-Asadi appeared Wednesday before a Sana'a court, where prosecutors
called for the death penalty, and for the paper to be shut down completely
and its assets confiscated.
A report on the Yemen Observer's website -- which continues to publish
although the paper edition has been frozen -- said prosecution lawyers had
recounted a story from the life of Mohammed in which Islam's prophet had
praised the killer of a woman who had insulted him.
The lawyers argued that the same punishment should be applied in the case
of those who "abuse" the prophet.
"They also demanded personal financial compensation for the psychological
trauma they claimed they suffered by the actions of the newspaper, which
they said has impaired their ability to do their jobs and follow their
normal daily lives."
The case was adjourned for 2 weeks.
The Observer said the prosecution lawyers, of which there were more than a
dozen, were being funded by Sheikh Abdel Majid Zindani, a religious leader
and senior Islamist opposition party member.
Zindani's name appears on a U.S. list of suspected financiers of
terrorism, and Yemeni media reported two weeks ago that Washington was
urging the government to freeze his assets and prevent him from traveling
abroad, in line with U.N. resolutions.
A U.S. Treasury statement issued in 2004 called Zindani a loyalist of
al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and said the U.S. government had credible
evidence that he "supports designated terrorists and terrorist
According to the State Department's annual report on global human rights,
released Wednesday, Yemen's government does not respect freedom of the
press despite a constitutional provision providing for it "within the
limits of the law."
The report noted that Yemeni press laws criminalize certain criticism of
the head of state, the publication of "false information" that can spread
"chaos and confusion," and "false stories intended to damage Arab and
"Yemen's press freedom has been tested often lately and in the eyes of the
outside world it remains a measure of the extent of democratization that
Yemen would like to claim," a contributor to another paper in the Gulf
state, the Yemen Times, wrote in a column on the al-Asadi case.
The media freedom lobby group Reporters Without Borders has recorded
arrests of journalists in Yemen, Syria, Algeria and India for reprinting
the cartoons caricaturing Mohammed, and the temporary or permanent closure
of at least 14 publications in Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Yemen, Malaysia
and Indonesia for the same reason.
"Whatever one thinks of the cartoons or whether they should be published,
it is absolutely unjustified to jail or prosecute journalists, threaten
them with death or shut down newspapers for this reason," the group said
Blow To Death Penalty
In a landmark ruling, the Privy Council in London has determined that the
mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas is unconstitutional and has
ordered that the cases of the 2 men who filed the appeal be sent back to
the Supreme Court so their sentences could be reconsidered.
The high court quashed the death sentences of Trono Davis and Forrester
The Privy Council said that the section of the Penal Code that requires
sentence of death to be passed on any defendant convicted of murder
"should be construed as imposing a discretionary and not a mandatory
sentence of death."
Up to this point, anyone who was found guilty of murder in The Bahamas has
been automatically sentenced to death.
The Bahamas hanged 50 men since 1929, according to records kept at Her
Majestys Prison. There are 28 men under the sentence of death at the
prison. Neil Brown, who was killed in the prison break in January, had
also been on death row.
In its ruling handed down on Wednesday, the high court said that should
the Supreme Court, on remission, consider sentence of death to be merited
in either the Bowe or Davis case, questions will arise on the lawfulness
of implementing such a sentence.
The Privy Council has long held that it would be inhumane to execute
anyone who has been under the sentence of death for 5 years or more.
Forrester Bowe, who was one of 4 prisoners who executed a deadly escape
plot at Her Majestys Prison in January, was convicted on February 25, 1998
of murdering Deon Patrick Roache.
Trono Davis was convicted on December 13, 1999 of murdering Jerrad
Philip "Brave" Davis, one of the attorneys who represented the condemned
men, said the ruling has put to bed a serious question and he stressed
that the ruling has not abolished the death penalty.
"What it means is that issue that has been troubling the judicial system
and the legal system of The Bahamas for more than 20 years has now been
settled," Mr. Davis told The Bahama Journal.
"What it is saying is that before the death penalty is to be imposed upon
anyone convicted of murder, the judge or the court has the discretion to
determine whether or not that ultimate penalty should be imposed."
In response to the Privy Councils ruling that the mandatory death sentence
is unconstitutional, the Attorney Generals Office said only that, "the
judgment is being fully considered and further announcements will be made
in due course."
One legal scholar told The Bahama Journal that each of the remaining men
on death row can now take out a constitutional motion and ask the Privy
Council to quash his sentence as well.
Davis and Bowes attorneys had argued that because the 1973 Constitution of
The Bahamas has a savings clause, which in effect "saves" the laws that
were in effect prior to the constitution coming into force, all laws
before that point are still relevant.
The mens legal team argued that capital punishment had already been found
to be unconstitutional by various jurisdictions and there was universal
acceptance that it was unconstitutional.
The team presented an elaborate overview of existing laws prior to the
1963 Constitution of The Bahamas, and contended that the section of the
Penal Code that deals with the death sentence is inconsistent with both
the 1963 and 1969 constitutions and that the section must be modified so
as to conform with those constitutions by prescribing a discretionary
instead of a mandatory death sentence.
The high court pointed to an earlier ruling that noted, "It has however
been recognised for very many years that the crime of murder embraces a
wide range of offences of widely varying degrees of criminal culpability.
"It covers at one extreme the sadistic murder of a child for purposes of
sexual gratification, a terrorist atrocity causing multiple deaths or a
contract killing, at the other the mercy-killing of a loved one suffering
unbearable pain in a terminal illness or a killing which results from an
excessive response to a perceived threat. All killings which satisfy the
definition of murder are not equally heinous."
Another ruling cited said, "It is practically impossible to lay down an
inflexible rule by which the same punishment must in every case be
inflicted in respect of every crime falling within a given definition
because the degrees of moral guilt and public danger involved in offences
which bear the same name and fall under the same definition must of
Its the point that the legal team for Bowe and Davis had been arguing.
The Privy Council said it was satisfied that the Court of Appeal in The
Bahamas had jurisdiction to entertain these appeals "and regrets that it
has not, in the event, enjoyed the benefit of the Court of Appeals
opinions on the important issues at stake".
Attorneys for Bowe and Davis had argued that even if the mandatory death
sentence were accepted as constitutional and so protected despite being
inhumane and degrading, it would be unconstitutional to carry out the act
But the Privy Council shot down that argument saying it would be absurd to
hold that the sentence is constitutional, but giving effect to it is not.
"They must stand or fall together," the ruling said.
The Privy Council heard the case in December.
"Milestone" Ruling Called Major Victory
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has unanimously decided to
strike down the mandatory death sentence as being in breach of the
Constitution, ruling that the sentences of convicted murders Forrester
Bowe Jr. and Trono Davis should be quashed and the cases remitted to the
Supreme Court for consideration of the appropriate sentences.
Lawyers yesterday also described the Privy Council ruling as a "milestone"
in the international campaign against the death penalty and a "new dawn"
for human rights in the region.
Maurice Glinton, one of the lawyers representing Bowe and Davis, said
Wednesday that the ruling signalled the end of the mandatory death penalty
in The Bahamas and in the rest of the region.
"[It] also means that the mandatory death penalty is now abolished,
through litigation, in every English speaking Caribbean country except for
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago," he said.
In a densely reasoned judgment delivered by Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the
Privy Council took the view that as early as 1973, the mandatory death
penalty should have been regarded as an inhuman and degrading punishment.
After the judgment was delivered, Keir Starmer, one of the QCs on the
legal team representing Bowe and Davis, described the case as a
culmination of a 10-year litigation strategy to abolish the mandatory
death penalty in the English-speaking Caribbean.
"It marks a new dawn for human rights in the region and has given hope to
all those sentenced to death around the world," said Mr. Starmer.
As counsel, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, argued that it was important that
judges should have discretion in applying the death penalty.
A statement released by the legal team representing Bowe and Davis, noted
that since 1973, 16 persons have been executed in The Bahamas - 6 in the
last 10 years.
"If the judge had a discretion and mitigation circumstances had been taken
into account they probably would not have been executed," according to the
Bowes and Davis legal team included Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Stramer and Ruth
Brander of Doughty Street Chambers, and Mr. Glinton and Philip Davis of
the Bahamas Bar.
The judgement marks a major success for Simons Muirhead and Burton
Solicitors and Doughty Chambers, who have been leading the fight against
the death penalty in the English speaking Caribbean for the last 15 years,
according to the statement.
"The ramifications and consequences of the Privly Councils ruling are
huge; there are implications for at least 30 prisoners on death row in The
Bahamas whose cases will now have to be reviewed," said Saul Lehrfreund of
Simons Muirhead and Burton Solicitors.
"The implications for the future murder trials will be the introduction of
a completely new set of procedures restricting the imposition of the death
penalty in the first instance. The Privy Council has gone some way towards
ensuring that the law and practice in the Bahamas conforms with
international human rights standards in the application of the death
Bowe, who was 1 of 4 inmates who mounted a deadly escape from Her Majestys
Prison in January, was convicted of the murder of Deon Roache on February
25th, 1998 and sentenced to death.
Davis was convicted of the murder of Jerrad Ferguson on December 13th,
1999 and sentenced to death.
They have remained incarcerated on death row at Her Majestys Prison, Fox
Hill for 8 years and 6 years respectively.
(source for both: Bahama Journal)
Bahamas death penalty banned
The mandatory death penalty in the Bahamas was abolished by five British
law lords yesterday when they held it to be a breach of international
In a significant ruling the judicial committee of the Privy Council struck
down the mandatory death sentence imposed in two test appeals as a breach
of the constitution.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the senior law lord, said that, as early as
1973, the mandatory death penalty should have been regarded as inhuman and
Since 1973 16 people have been executed in the Bahamas. If the judge had
had a discretion - as argued by counsel for the appellants, Edward
Fitzgerald, QC, of Doughty Street - then they would probably not have been
The challenge was brought by Forrester Bowe Jr, who was convicted of the
murder of Deon Roache in 1998 and sentenced to death and has served eight
years; and Trono Davis, convicted of the murder of Jerrad Ferguson in
December 1999 and sentenced to death. He has served 6 years.
Keir Starmer, QC, of Doughty Street, said: "This case . . . marks a new
dawn for human rights in the region."
(source: The Times)
Voice of Beslan against bringing back death penalty
The public organization The Voice of Beslan has objected to the idea of
suspending the death penalty moratorium currently in force in Russia.
"The public organization The Voice of Beslan believes that the moratorium
on the death penalty is a civilized measure. We do not want to become
barbarians in response to barbarity. We do not support Deputy Prosecutor
General Nikolai Shepel, who represents the state in the trial of Nurpashi
Kulayev, in his call for the highest penalty for [the defendant]- the
death penalty," The Voice of Beslan said in a statement on Thursday. The
authors of the document said they did not support a Beslan Mothers
committee proposal that a nationwide referendum be held on lifting the
death penalty moratorium.
The September 1-3, 2004, hostage crisis at a Beslan school resulted in the
death of 331 people, mostly children.
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