[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Jul 3 11:23:09 CDT 2007
Death row medics appeal scheduled for September 4
The appeal on the 5 death row medics and Palestinian doctor with Bulgarian
citizenship has been delayed for September 4, a hearing of the Court of
Appeal in Tripoli decided Tuesday, where the appeal against slander case
of the 6 Libyan officers has run. The officers' claims were rejected on
May 27, BNR special correspondent to Tripoli Veselin Ivanov announced.
(source: Focus News Agency)
Ethiopia appeals for death sentence for Mengistu
Ethiopian prosecutors on Tuesday appealed for a death sentence for former
Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam, saying the life sentence he was given
for genocide was not equal to his crimes.
An Ethiopian court in January sentenced Mengistu to life in prison for
killings thousands of people during his bloody 17-year rule, which
included famine, war and brutal purges including the "Red Terror"
slaughter of suspected opponents.
Special Prosecutor Kiros Yosef told the appeals court that the sentences
handed down to Mengistu and other officials convicted in January after a
12-year trial "were not commensurate with what they have done".
"I request the court to impose the ultimate penalty -- the death penalty
-- against Mengistu and his co-defendants," he said.
No matter what the court decides, Mengistu is unlikely to face justice in
Ethiopia. He has lived in exile for 16 years in Zimbabwe, which has
refused to extradite him.
Kiros gave one example of the brutal nature of Mengistu's military junta,
known as the Derg, which toppled the feudal rule of Emperor Haile Selassie
"At a meeting chaired by Mengistu Haile Mariam in the old Menelik II
Palace, Derg officials sent to death 59 former officials of the emperor
with a wave of the hand," he said.
"They were forced to stand near a mass grave prepared earlier and were
brutally shot to death by firing squad," Kiros said.
Mengistu and co-defendants also carried out the "Red Terror" purge in
which 1,200 civilians suspected of belonging to an opposition party were
killed and their bodies dumped in the street as a warning to others.
Defence lawyers argued that all the charges against the former military
officials arose from actions taken during what they termed a "popular
uprising" to overthrow the emperor.
"We regret the loss of life. But we have done something positive during
our rule and we appeal to the court to show leniency," the defendants said
in a statement.
"Penalty against crimes committed should not be seen as a vendetta, it
should rather be used as a time to ponder and regret what has happened,"
one of the defendants, who was not identified, told the court.
Botswana Slammed Over 'Secret' Executions
The human rights movement in Botswana has issued a joint report on what it
calls "hasty and secretive hangings" in this country. The statement says
"the authorities are reluctant to encourage public debate on the death
penalty and its possible abolition (and) "there is a total lack of
transparency in the actual execution process of the death sentence.
It adds: "The hasty way in which most recent hangings have been carried
out further casts doubt on the willingness of the government to seriously
address this issue. The apparent strong public support for capital
punishment should not be used by those in power as a pretext to retain
that inhuman sentence in domestic legislation."
The human rights activists have also censured the government for not
informing prisoners' families when an execution is or has taken place in
order to allow a last visit to the condemned person.
It is described as "inhuman and degrading treatment."
Meanwhile, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Ditshwanelo) says the
frequency of reports of torture, mistreatment of prisoners, violent
attacks on opposition parties and use of corporal and capital punishment
in southern Africa is of great concern. Insofar as Botswana is concerned,
the country has committed itself to the convention against Torture and
other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) but has
not been put into national law which means the convention does not have
the power of law.
Botswana only accepted the convention with an exception for corporal
punishment and the death penalty.
(source: The Voice)
Reports Of Death Sentence Spark Concern Over Ayatollah's Fate
Iranian and international rights groups have expressed concern over
reports suggesting that a possible death sentence was handed down against
a controversial Iranian cleric and some of his followers despite
subsequent denials among semiofficial media.
Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Kazemeyni Borujerdi has been a vocal advocate of
the separation of religion from politics. However, he's known only to a
limited number of followers and people who follow developments in Iran and
is not considered to be an influential ayatollah.
Unconfirmed reports on Iranian websites suggested that Iran's Special
Court for the Clergy (SCC) in mid-June ordered the executions.
Borujerdi has been in jail for the past 9 months, but his strident
argument to secularize political leadership in Iran has long upset the
country's ruling clerics.
Iranian and international concerns grew after the reports hinted that
Borujerdi and sympathizers had been found guilty of serious charges --
including "waging war against God" -- and sentenced to die.
Semiofficial news agencies soon ran stories quoting at least one unnamed
official from the special clerics' court rejecting the reports, saying no
sentence has been issued and officials are still reviewing the case.
Borujerdi was arrested at his Tehran home on October 8 along with more
than 100 of his sympathizers after violent clashes with police forces.
Most of his followers were later released, many on bail.
But Borujerdi remains in jail, with little information available about his
Borujerdi, like many other political and prisoners of conscience detained
at Tehran's Evin prison, has reportedly been denied contact with his
family and prevented access to legal counsel. Reports say the ayatollah
was not allowed to see his mother, who fell ill and died during his
Abdolkarim Lahidji is vice president of the Paris-based International
Federation of Human Rights, which allies more than 100 groups in scores of
countries. He says he heard reports that Borujerdi -- who appeared before
the clerical court in June -- appeared frail, and could neither speak
clearly nor stand upright.
"We have been informed by his family that the health condition of
Kazemeyni Borujerdi is very worrying," Lahidji says. "He suffers from
Parkinson's disease, what has added to his family's concerns that he's
been denied treatment -- meaning that they take him to court in this
situation, they treat him badly, they take him to court with handcuffs and
Amnesty International said on June 15 that there are increasing concerns
that Borujerdi's treatment in custody is endangering his life. The group
added that there are allegations that the ayatollah -- who is also said to
suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems -- was
tortured during interrogations.
Thorn In Officials' Sides
Several days before his arrest, Borujerdi told RFE/RL that he had been
under increased government pressure. He also said that authorities had
threatened him with execution.
In October, Borujerdi said that authorities had targeted him for what he
regards as his traditional interpretation of Islam.
"I demonstrate that real Islam is free of political ornaments," Borujerdi
said. "It is included in verses whose interpretation is different from
that provided by [the authorities]. Its interpretation is from 1,428 years
ago. It is about the rule of the Prophet (Muhammad) and how he lived; he
was against repression and opposed discrimination. Our divine leaders took
food from their mouths and the mouths of their children to give it to the
poor. Today, unfortunately, despite the immense wealth of this country,
people live in poverty."
Borujerdi's view on the secularization -- transferring power from clerical
to civil control -- could be interpreted as challenging the foundations of
the Islamic republic established after Iran's 1979 revolution.
Iranian authorities have accused Borujerdi of misinterpreting Islam. Some
have also accused him of claiming to be a representative of the Twelfth
Imam -- know as "the Hidden Imam" -- who Shi'a believe disappeared in the
10th century. Borujerdi has rejected such accusations and claimed he
follows "the true Islam."
Difficult To Know
Some reports by Iranian news sources suggest the ayatollah and some 20 of
his followers were charged with "acting against national security,"
"waging war against God," and publicly calling Iran's form of "absolute
rule of supreme jurisprudence" ("velayate vagih") unlawful.
The International Federation of Human Rights' Lahidji says a lack of
transparency by Iran's judiciary and the clerics' court makes it
impossible to confirm reports of the charges or possible sentencing.
He thinks Borujerdi and his followers are being tried and persecuted for
"Kazemeyni Borujerdi is in favor of non-political Islam, and he's been in
prison for more than 9 months," Lahidji says. "He and his followers were
arrested only because of their ideas -- they're in prison under very
difficult conditions, [and] their families are worried and say they have
been mistreated to force them to make televised confessions."
Lahidji urged authorities immediately to reverse any sentences against
Borujerdi or his followers, whom he describes as "prisoners of
Solon wants death penalty restored
After successfully reassuming an old post, a Nueva Ecija congressman went
back to an old practice of filing bills in Filipino and sought the
restoration of the death penalty, which was abolished during his absence
in the House of Representatives.
Independent Rep. Eduardo Nonato Joson's first batch of bills, which he
filed in his return to the chamber included two measures seeking to impose
the death sentence on hired killers and law enforcers found guilty of
involvement in summary or extrajudicial executions.
Joson was a member of the 8th Congress which was responsible for making
the death sentence the gravest penalty that can be imposed by the state.
The filing of the measure came at a time when a spate of killings and
abduction of politicians, journalists, and political dissenters have
continued to hog the headlines.
Joson said many of the murders were executed by hired killers and lawmen,
military and police officers.
In seeking the restoration of the capital punishment, Joson said people
who have made murder a profession should pay for their crimes with their
"Hired killers proliferate and hired killing is the new cottage industry,"
he stated as he sought the immediate approval of the Anti-Hired Killing
According to Joson, victims of professional murderers range "from media
practitioners, criminals to politicians and leftist elements of our
"The sanctity of human life like the sanctity of our democratic
institutions must be defended and protected, otherwise, anarchy and the
concomitant law of the jungle or rule of the gun will prevail," he said.
(source: Tempo News)
DFA working to stave off execution of 3 OFWs
The Department of Foreign Affairs is trying to save 3 overseas Filipino
workers -- 2 of them women -- from execution in Saudi Arabia after their
convictions became final and executory.
In a press conference, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban
Conejos said the three, whom he refused to identify, were sentenced to
death by the Grand Shariah Court (Supreme Court) of Saudi Arabia. Two of
the cases involving the women are in Riyadh while the third is in Jeddah.
Conejos said all three cases involved murder, compounded by either rape or
He said the execution in one case in Riyadh had been suspended for 10
years because the daughter of the victim was only 5 years old when her
mother was killed by the OFW.
Conejos said that under Saudi law, the daughter must be 15 before she
could decide whether or not to pardon the accused.
Under Shariah law, the crime has both public and private aspects. The
state could pardon the accused but he or she must also secure forgiveness
from the victim's family by offering blood money which must be accepted
for the sentence to be overturned.
Conejos said there were 35 other potential death row cases involving OFWs
around the world. Most of the cases are in the trial stage while four are
in the "advanced stage" or nearing conviction.
"Not all of them are on death row. These are cases in different stages but
in the event of conviction, the maximum penalty is death. This is a
special category we monitor closely," he said.
Of the 35 death penalty cases, 12 are drug-related in Malaysia and the
rest are murder cases against OFWs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
"These involve complex offenses and the others are under investigation.
Even if there is no case filed yet we come in," Conejos said.
At the same briefing, Conejos said the Saudi government had not yet acted
on the Philippine government's note verbale of June 15 requesting the
repatriation of the body of Rey Cortez, who was beheaded in Riyadh on June
13 for killing a Pakistani taxi driver who tried to rape him.
The DFA earlier summoned Saudi Arabian Ambassador Mohammed Ameen Wali to
receive the note verbale, which also requested that Cortez's family be
allowed to visit his unmarked grave in Riyadh.
Conejos admitted the chances of the request being granted were nil as
similar requests in the past for the repatriation of executed OFWs'
remains were ignored.
(source: Asian Journal)
Senators Discuss Death Penalty Abolition
The Minister of Justice, Tharicisse Karugarama, has tabled the death
penalty abolition bill in the Senate. Two weeks ago, the Chamber of
Deputies overwhelmingly approved the draft law. Karugarama told Senators
last Friday that government wants to abolish death penalty because it has
no deterrent effect on the criminals.
He charged that the execution of criminals has been carried out in the
past but people still commit crimes.
"Death penalty is a stumbling block in the path of unity and
reconciliation and contradictory to the norms of democracy," Karugarama
He further explained that Rwanda has gone through difficult times and
therefore human life should be held in high esteem.
He told Senators that there is an impending international moratorium of
abolishing death penalty.
198 countries have abolished the capital sentence, he said, adding that
this has also compelled the Rwandan government.
Senator Seth Kamanzi asked the minister whether former Rwandan Patriotic
Army (RPA) convicts on death row or life sentence would benefit from the
Karugarama replied that if the bill turns into a law, the former RPA
soldiers would also benefit.
Senator Aloysia Inyumba also asked whether the government requested the
International Court of Justice for Rwanda (ICTR) to transfer of Rwandan
prisoners it holds to Rwanda instead of taking them to other countries.
Karugarama said the government has always done that, and indicated
optimism that the UN tribunal would cooperate.
Meanwhile, the State Minister for Education Joseph Murekeraho also briefed
Senators about a proposed independent National Curriculum Centre.
Murekeraho explained that the centre needs to be independent because
operating under the control of other bodies has rendered it inefficient.
He said the centre will be charged with schools' syllabi, writing books
However, MP Chrysologue Kubwimana wondered whether there is enough money
to facilitate the establishment of the centre.
The minister reasoned that workers of such body won't be different from
others as far as salaries are concerned apart from a director who would be
earning six hundred thousands as an incentive.
(source: New Times)
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