[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jul 11 23:58:46 CDT 2007
Mauritanian prosecutor demands death penalty for suspected terrorists
The public prosecutors office in Nouakchott on Tuesday called for the
death sentence against 2 of the 14 suspected terrorists standing trial for
"carrying of arms against Mauritania and treason," APA reports here.
The two suspects, Taher Ould Abdel Jelil and Tayib Ould Saleck are charged
with participating in the 2005 attack on the Limgheity military barracks
during which 15 Mauritanian soldiers were killed.
The attack was officially blamed on the Algerian Salafist Group for
Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which became the military wing of al Qaeda in
the Maghreb under the regime of President Maaouya Ould SidAhmed Taya who
was toppled in a coup on 03 August 2005.
NLA amends criminal code to exempt pregnant women from death penalty
The National Legislative Assembly Wednesday amended the Criminal Case
Procedural Code to exempt pregnant women from death penalty.
The amendment sets the maximum penalty for women convicted in criminal
cases to life sentence instead of death penalty.
The previous law allowed convicted pregnant women to be on death role for
1 year before their execution.
The amendments also required prisons to provide facilities for inmate
mothers to take care of their children for at least 3 years after birth.
(source: The Nation)
Libya Backs H.I.V. Case Death Penalty
The Libyan Supreme Court today once again upheld the death sentances
imposed on 5 Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were accused of
intentionally infecting more than 400 Libyan children with the AIDS virus
The court rejected the results of a 2003 investigation by 2 of the world's
leading AIDS experts, which found that unsanitary medical conditions at
Benghazi Childrens Hospital were to blame for the children becoming
infected with HIV. The nurses and doctor have now been in jail for nearly
Still, their fate remained uncertain today, despite the court's ruling on
the one hand, and months of recent negotiations to secure their release on
the other. The European Union and the United States have repeatedly
pressed the Libyan government to free the 6, and groups of Nobel laureates
have visited Tripoli to plead their case with the Libyan leader, Moammar
Another Libyan legal body, the Supreme Judicial Council, is scheduled to
meet on Monday, and could overturn todays court ruling or reduce the
sentences for the 6.
Reaction to the verdict in Europe today was was swift and dismayed.
"I deeply regret the verdict of the Supreme Court confirming the death
sentence for the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor," said Benita
Ferrero-Waldner, the unions commissioner for external relations, who
visited Libya in the spring.
"I firmly hope that clemency will be granted to the medical staff," Ms.
Ferrero-Waldner said. "This should be done in the same spirit of mutual
respect and humanitarian compassion which characterized the European
response to the plight of the Benghazi children and their families."
Unusually, several senior officials of the union issued independent
statements on the matter as well, including the commissioner for justice,
Franco Frattini, who said his reaction was "utterly negative."
In the past year, the European Union has given substantial financial aid
to Libya in hopes of resolving the case. One high-level union diplomat,
who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the
case, said the total amount was equivalent to more than 10 million euros
($14 million) for each infected child. The union has set up treatment
programs in Libya for the children, built medical facilities and purchased
Bulgaria became a member of the European Union at the beginning of this
year. Its entry into the union has raised the public profile of a case
that had been simmering on the back burner for years.
Dr. Zdravko Georgiev, the husband of one of the jailed nurses, said in a
telephone interview from Libya today that the families of the nurses were
dismayed by the ruling. "After spending more than 8 monstrous years in
Libyan dungeons, we are exhausted to death," he said. Dr. Georgiev was
himself initially charged and jailed in the case; he was released after 4
years, but has not been allowed to leave Libya.
"We expected for the third time to hear the word 'death,' and despite
that, it's still a shock," he said. "We don't need a pardon, we need
In recent weeks, representatives of the Gadhafi Foundation, a charitable
organization run by the Libyan leader's son, have said repeatedly that a
deal to free the 5 nurses and the doctor was imminent. Multiple calls to
the foundations offices in Tripoli were not immediately returned or
Under Islamic law, the families of the children can accept compensation
for the injury and express forgiveness, which would lead to the dismissal
of the charges against the 6. Libyan negotiators have long said that that
would be the easiet way to resolve the matter, according to Bulgarian and
European diplomats involved in the discussions.
But the Bulgarians have refused to consider suggestions that it offer to
pay the families 10 million euros for each infected child, on the ground
that making such payments would be tantamount to an admission of guilt,
and that in any case the country could not afford that amount of money.
Dimiter Tzantchev, the foreign minister of Bulgaria, said in a statement
today that the court's decision was not a surprise, and that his country
"is ready to react appropriately in the next days following the
development of the situation." He said there would be no further official
While the Gadhafi Foundation has said it was brokering an agreement with
the children's families to resolve the case, there have been continuing
signals that the families would not easily be placated. "We are awaiting
the execution of the death sentence," the families' lawyer, Al-Monseif
Khalifa, said in Tripoli today, according to Reuters, which noted that
members of 20 of the families demonstrated outside the court.
Analysts said that part of the problem was that Mr. Gadhafi is not popular
in Benghazi, analysts said, and his government may not feel that it is in
a position to reverse a death sentence that is widely viewed as just and
The convoluted case began more than a decade ago, in 1998, before Bulgaria
was a member of the European Union and before Mr. Gadhafi renounced
terrorism. At a time of economic upheaval and rapid inflation in Bulgaria,
the 5 nurses, who were then in their late 30s and 40s, signed contracts to
work at Benghazi Children's Hospital for mundane reasons: to buy an
apartment or to put a daughter through college. The Palestinain doctor had
grown up in Libya.
The 6 were arrested in 1999. In the initial indictment, which reads like a
spy novel, Libyan prosecutors claimed that the nurses intentionally
infected the children as part of a plot by Mossad, the Israeli secret
service, to undermine the Libyan state. Prosecutors claimed that the
nurses confessed to the crime, and that investigators had found vials of
tainted blood in one of the nurses' rooms. For their part, the nurses said
they were tortured and raped while in custody, in order to extract
confessions from them.
In 2001, 2 of the worlds foremost AIDS experts, Dr. Luc Montagnier of
France and Dr. Vittorio Colizzi of Italy, were invited by the Gadhafi
Foundation to study the evidence and were granted wide access to the
hospital. They concluded that poor sanitary practices such as the
transfusion of unsafe blood products had led to the spread of the AIDS
virus, and added that medical records indicated that some of the children
had AIDS before the accused nurses arrived in Libya. Libyan authorities
refused to provide the scientists with the vial of blood used in evidence.
Last year, more than 100 Nobel laureates signed a petition asking Libya to
release the nurses and the doctor. The petition was delivered by hand to
Reached by phone today, several member of the group said they had agreed
not to discuss the case until later this week, or until there was a ruling
from the Supreme Judicial Council.
Dr. Colizzi, who has visited the hospital in Benghazi several times over
the last few years to help develop treatment programs there, said today,
"I think all we can say for now it that this is incredible, really
(source: New York Times)
Rwanda moves to abolish death penalty
The Rwandan Senate approved the abolition of the death penalty, a key step
demanded by the international community to transfer genocide suspects to
Rwandan courts, state-run radio said on Wednesday.
"The organic law abolishing the capital punishment was unanimously
approved by the senators present in the assembly," Radio Rwanda announced.
The bill abolishing the death penalty was initially put forward by
President Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front, approved by the cabinet
at the beginning of the year and passed by the lower chamber of parliament
The new law has yet to be promulgated for the death penalty to be
officially abolished in the small central African country.
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugama predicted the law would come into
force by the end of July.
As a result, about 600 Rwandans should see their death sentences commuted
to life imprisonment.
Abolishing the death penalty was one of the conditions set by the
UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to allow the transfer
of genocide suspects to the Rwandan judiciary.
Chinese applaud ex-official's execution----The former head of food and
drug safety was convicted of taking bribes, which in some cases involved
approving lethal products.
The heightened anger and fear felt by average Chinese over the safety of
food ingredients, medicine and other consumer products were vividly on
display here Tuesday after the execution of the former head of China's
food and drug safety agency.
Within hours of an announcement that Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, had been put to
death for taking bribes from pharmaceutical companies, China's Internet
"Good job!" said an anonymous posting on Sina.com, a major Chinese Web
"He deserves it," said another, writing under the moniker Lgzxm2005.
"We can't even count how many people Zheng has killed," chimed in a 3rd.
In China's one-party state, with its nascent legal system and heightened
concern for social stability, justice can be swift, particularly in highly
political cases. Zheng, who headed the State Food and Drug Administration
from 1998 to 2005, was convicted in late May of taking bribes, granted an
appeal in June and executed in early July.
Details on how the sentence was carried out were not immediately
available. In recent years, China has made greater use of lethal
injection, sometimes undertaken in mobile execution vans, reducing its
traditional use of a bullet to the back of the head. Executions are
traditionally carried out at 10 a.m. by the People's Armed Police.
"It was decided by the Politburo, so what can I say?" said a law professor
who declined to be identified, citing his links with the government. "This
case is very sensitive. Nor is it unusual in China to execute a person in
Yet even by Chinese standards, Zheng's punishment was harsh, reflecting a
wellspring of anger among Chinese concerning their health and the growing
In recent months, a series of safety scandals have tarnished the nation's
export juggernaut and threatened to undermine the "Made in China" label
Zheng was convicted of taking bribes worth about $850,000 and dereliction
of duty. During his tenure, the administration reportedly approved 6
medicines that turned out to be fake, including an antibiotic blamed for
at least 10 deaths in China.
In North America, authorities this year have blocked or recalled toxic
seafood, juice made with unsafe color additives and toys coated with lead
paint imported from China.
This followed the death of several dogs and cats last year who ate pet
food containing Chinese wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine, a
In Panama last year, dozens of people died after ingesting medicine
contaminated with highly toxic diethylene glycol, an ingredient in brake
fluid, that originated in China and was confused with harmless glycerin.
Counterfeit Colgate toothpaste containing traces of the same liquid was
found on store shelves in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
No deaths have been reported from the counterfeit toothpaste.
Though other countries, including the United States, use the death
penalty, China has come under growing criticism for its wholesale use,
particularly involving economic crimes such as tax evasion and corruption.
Beijing recently narrowed its use of the death penalty. But it still
carries out more state-sanctioned executions than all other nations
"Abolishing the death penalty is a goal for China's legal future, but
realistically I don't expect it to happen in my lifetime," said Qian
Lieyang, a Beijing-based attorney who has represented defendants in
several high-profile death penalty cases. "In Zheng's case, it's not just
the amount of money involved, it's also the circumstances."
Yet the Chinese Communist Party walks a fine line. Even as it tries to
appease millions of angry citizens with Zheng's rapid execution, it faces
an uphill battle portraying his brand of corruption as the exception
rather than the rule.
"The few corrupt officials of the [State Food and Drug Administration] are
the shame of the whole system," said Yan Jiangyang, a spokesman at the
agency. "Their scandals have revealed some very serious problems."
China's propaganda ministry has sought to focus public anger at a
relatively narrow target Zheng and a small number of colleagues but it
hasn't taken long for some people to demand similar treatment for other
offenders. "Our country will have no peace unless corrupt officials are
killed," said an anonymous posting on Sina. "We should kill more!"
"Corrupt officials are like leeks in the field," said another on Sohu.com,
by a writer identified as "Common Man." "We cut a bunch, more come out.
Even if we killed every 2nd official in China, nobody innocent would die
Also discomfiting for the leadership is that Zheng, on the surface,
represented just the type of official the party has sought to showcase,
the product of an elite education who rose rapidly through government
ranks and received broad exposure to Western practices.
After graduating from Shanghai's vaunted Fudan University, Zheng joined
the Communist Party in 1979, held a series of jobs in the pharmaceutical
industry, became a regulator and served as a delegate to the National
"He had the qualifications of an up-and-coming cadre," said Joseph Cheng,
a political science professor at the City University of Hong Kong. "Yet he
still fell prey to the path of corruption. That's a big concern for the
Some now question why it so often takes a major scandal for the system to
police itself. "How did a corrupt official like Zheng remain in power so
long?" read a comment on Sohu from Gaojh4508.
A January profile in China's Business Weekly magazine paints a portrait of
Zheng as a complex figure who didn't seem to care much about money yet
made no secret of his willingness to accept it in large quantities,
perhaps as a testament to his power. According to the article, Zheng
received up to $25,000 for attending receptions held by a pharmaceutical
company he regulated.
He was also characterized as something of a gentleman and a lover of
calligraphy, who used to tell reporters: "Money can buy books but it can't
Another official quoted anonymously in the article termed him "a
womanizer, corrupt and manipulating; he didn't supervise his people but
loved to take credit for himself," and a report in China Business News
describes Zheng's wife as controlling and "well-versed in using Zheng's
As thousands of comments poured in Tuesday after the morning execution,
there was no shortage of advice for the Communist Party on handling the
Some said Zheng should have been force-fed the medicine he approved, and
others wanted his execution carried live on national television.
"I'm just worried all these scandals will hurt China's reputation overseas
and foreigners won't want to buy our products," said Zhao Lingchen, a
27-year-old marketing employee. "It's like being bitten by a snake and
being afraid of a rope for the next 10 years."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
China Calls Official's Execution A Warning Siren
China on Wednesday hailed the swift execution of the nation's former drug
safety chief as a warning to corrupt officials while detailing a web of
graft that thrived for years without punishment.
Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration
(SFDA), dominated television and print news a day after he was executed
for taking some 6.5 million yuan ($850,000) in bribes to let medicine
companies slip past his regulatory net.
The People's Daily, voice of the ruling Communist Party, said the
punishment was intended to deter other wayward officials.
"Corrupt elements will be thoroughly investigated no matter who they are,
how high their post, or how deep they hide, and there can be no
appeasement or softness," the newspaper said.
Zheng, head of the agency from 1998 to 2005, was sentenced on May 29 and
his appeal was heard last month.
President Hu Jintao is preparing for a congress later this year that is
set to extend his tenure as party chief, which he has used to promote an
image of tough, clean rule.
But even as the media cast Zheng's punishment as a sign of the
leadership's commitment to curing graft, reports described a system of
kickbacks and favors that went back a decade without public exposure.
>From 1997, Zheng exploited his grip on drug approval powers to squeeze
bribes that went to his wife and son, Xinhua news agency reported. One
company in Zhejiang province in the east fed them "consultancy fees" and
other rewards worth 2.9 million yuan.
>From 2001, Zheng used a shake-up of drug approval rules to concentrate
power with him and some close associates, and companies -- including some
investigated for using fake ingredients -- were allowed to register
substandard medicines for a price.
On Wednesday, China unveiled tightened rules for drug registration as
officials acknowledged "loopholes" for abuse.
"Some applicants' research documentation has been substandard, there have
been serious problems with fraud and fakery, and it's been nigh impossible
to ensure pharmaceutical safety," Wu Zhen, deputy head of the SFDA, told a
news briefing reported on the official government Web site (www.gov.cn).
Zheng's execution marked the 1st time China has imposed a death sentence
on an official of his rank since 2000.
China has regularly used executions to promise a purge of corruption, and
advocates of political reform said that while Zheng's fate may scare
officials for a while, it would not staunch deeply rooted graft feeding
off a booming economy.
Under Zhang's watch, dozens died in China from fake or bad drugs and
"Zheng Xiaoyu's execution will satisfy ordinary people's desire for
revenge and show that party leaders sympathize, but an occasional
execution can't stop corruption," said Hu Xingdou, a professor of Beijing
Institute of Technology.
"Corruption is so widespread because the risks to officials are so low. I
think a lot of them will think Zheng lost out in a political fight or
didn't pay off the right people."
Executions Are Under Way in Iran for Adultery and Other Violations
The Iranian government confirmed Tuesday that a man was executed by
stoning last week for committing adultery, and said that 20 more men would
be executed in the coming days on morality violations.
A judiciary spokesman, Alireza Jamshidi, told reporters on Tuesday that a
death sentence by stoning had been carried out last week near the city of
Takestan, west of Tehran, despite an order by the chief of the judiciary,
Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, not to permit such executions.
"The verdict was final, and so it was carried out for the man but not for
the woman," the ISNA news agency quoted Mr. Jamshidi as saying.
He said the 20 additional executions were for such things as "rape,
insulting religious sanctities and laws, and homosexuality." Most
executions in Iran are hangings, often in public and at the scenes of the
The police arrested about 1,000 people in May during a so-called morality
crackdown. Mr. Jamshidi said 15 more men were being tried on similar
charges and could receive death sentences.
The daily newspaper Etemad Melli reported Monday that Jaffar Kiani, 47,
who had been convicted of adultery, was executed by stoning on Thursday in
the cemetery of a small village near Takestan. "Villagers said the
sentence was carried out by the local judge and authorities," the
Mr. Kiani and his partner, Mokarameh Ebrahimi, 43, who has 2 children,
were scheduled to die on June 21, but the execution was put off by
(source: New York Times)
Iranian wife faces death by stoning for adultery
An Iranian woman faces being stoned to death for having an affair with a
Mother- of- 2 Mokarrameh Ebrahimi has spent the last 11 years in jail for
adultery with Jafar Kiani.
Authorities in Tehran confirmed yesterday that Kiani had been executed
last week. human rights groups fear 43-year-old Ebrahimi will suffer the
same brutal fate.
A stoning pit, in which she will be buried up to her neck, has already
been prepared for her.
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen, launching an "urgent"
appeal, said: "To execute anyone by stoning is barbaric and disgraceful,
to execute a woman for adultery in this cruel way simply beggars belief.
"It is imperative that Iran's head of judiciary takes immediate steps to
stop the shameful stoning of Mokarrameh Ebrahimi while clarifying what has
happened to her co-accused Jafar Kiani."
Tehran stopped official stonings in 2002 following international pressure.
But judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi confirmed that Jafar Kiani had
been killed on Thursday. "The verdict was implemented because it was
definitive," he said.
Under Islamic law a male convict is buried up to the waist with his hands
tied behind his back, while a female is usually buried up to her neck.
Spectators and officials then carry out the execution by hurling rocks and
The stones are deliberately chosen to be large enough to cause pain, but
not big enough to kill the person in just 1 or 2 strikes.
Kiani and Ebrahimi were jailed in 1996 and their 2 children, one aged 11,
are believed to live in prison with their mother.
The Iranian women's group Stop Stoning Forever say the couple were living
together when they were first detained, with reports suggesting Mokarrameh
had been thrown out of the family home by her husband.
Both the man and woman have children from their previous marriages.
Stoning was widely used after the 1979 Islamic revolution propelled hard
line clerics into power, but in 2002 they were replaced with other means
of punishment. Despite this, human rights groups say a man and a woman
were stoned to death in 2006 in north-east Iran, after being convicted of
adultery and murdering the woman's husband.
The stoning of Jafa Kiani brings to at least 110 the number of executions
- by public hanging - carried in Iran this year.
The death penalty is automatically imposed for murder, rape, armed
robbery, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, repeated sodomy, adultery,
prostitution, treason and espionage.
Of the 24 juvenile offenders executed in Iran since 1990, 11 were still
children by the time they died. Others were held in prison until their
18th birthday before being hanged.
In May, the European Union criticised Tehran's human rights record and
expressed concern about the use of the death penalty in the Islamic state.
Iran says it is acting on the basis of Islamic sharia law.
Last night it emerged that Mokarrameh Ebrahimi has been given a stay of
execution while her case is reviewed. However human rights campaigners
believe there may be little hope for her.
They point out that her lover was told 2 weeks ago that his death sentence
had been suspended, only for him then to be executed last Thursday.
(source: Daily Mail)
IFJ Says Ethiopian Court Must Reject Death Penalty Demand for Journalists
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on an
Ethiopian court to reject the prosecutor's demand for the death penalty
for four journalists who have been convicted, along with opposition
members and activists, of attempting to overthrow the government, treason
and inciting violence.
"We condemn this cruel and unreasonable demand by the prosecution who
wants journalists sentenced to death merely for doing their job," said
Gabriel Baglo Director of the IFJ Africa office. "We call on the Court of
Kaliti to reject this demand and drop all the charges against the
journalists and all the other prisoners of conscience jailed in Ethiopia."
On Monday the prosecutor in the case demanded that the Court in Kaliti--
on the outskirts of Addis Ababa-- sentence the journalists Andualem Ayele
Legesse of Ethiop newspaper, Mesfin Tesfaye Gobena of Abay, Wonakseged
Zeleke Tessema of Asqual and Dawit Fasil Woldeselassie of Satenaw to
death. The journalists were convicted along with 34 opposition members and
activists on 11 June 2007. They were arrested during the violent
suppression of anti-government riots in November 2005 that came after
elections in the country 6 months earlier.
According to reports the government may be negotiating a deal with the
prisoners that would have them recognise their responsibility in the
violence in exchange of a pardon after the sentence.
The court ordered the accused to present their evidence by July 11. The
proceedings will resume on July 16.
The journalists and the other accused have refused to recognise the court
or defend themselves because of the political nature of their arrests and
"The charges against our colleagues in Ethiopia are without merit and are
being used to intimidate and silence all media in the country," Baglo
said. "Sadly Ethiopia has a long history of trampling press freedom but
sentencing these journalists to death would push the country to a new low
for human rights and freedom of expression."
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