[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jul 20 20:02:21 CDT 2007
Death penalty appeal by ex-AUM Shinrikyo member dismissed by top court
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by former AUM Shinrikyo
cult member Masato Yokoyama against the death sentence handed down for his
role in the Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks in 1995.
"It was an incredibly anti-social crime that indiscriminately targeted
ordinary citizens," Second Petty Bench Presiding Justice Ryoji Nakagawa
said as he upheld the lower court ruling.
The defense counsel for Yokoyama had asked the top court to waive the
death penalty on the grounds that nobody was killed on the train he
attacked. However, the top court dismissed the plea, judging that "the
death penalty is unavoidable even considering that nobody was killed."
Yokoyama, 43, conspired with cult founder Shoko Asahara, 52, and other
cult members to spray sarin on trains on three Tokyo subway lines on the
morning of March 20, 1995, killing 12 people and injuring thousands of
others, according to the lower court rulings.
Although no-one was killed, 4 people were injured on the Marunouchi Line
train in which he sprayed the lethal gas.
(source: Mainichi News)
Turkmenistan endorses call for death penalty abolition
The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization
has received a letter stating that Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Namibia, Russian Federation, Rwanda,
Tajikistan and Turkmenistan acceded to 85 states that had signed a
statement regarding the abolition of death penalty.
The document states that the signatory countries are firmly convinced that
the abolition of death penalty facilitates advancement of the human
dignity and progressive development of human rights. The death penalty as
a means of frightening provides no additional advantages. Any mistakes or
deficiencies of the system of justice become irreversible when punishment
in cruel and inhuman way deprives an individual of his/her right to life.
The statement notes that the trend to elimination of death penalty is
being observed in the whole world and contains the call to those countries
that still apply death penalty to gradually reduce its application and, as
an intermediary measure, introduce a moratorium on execution of death
Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine and Estonia have put
their signatures under the statement earlier, the UN News Center reports.
3 more get death penalty
3 more men involved in the 1993 serial bomb blasts were given the death
Special judge Pramod Kode of the court of Terrorists and Disruptive
Activities (Prevention) Act (Tada) yesterday sentenced Asgar Mukadam, an
employee of prime accused Tiger Memon, Shanawaz Qureishi, a butcher, and
Mukadam's cousin Mohammad Shoaib Ghansar to death.
The death penalty imposed for planting bombs at Plaza cinema in Dadar,
Zaveri Bazaar and 5 star hotels is subject to confirmation by the Supreme
Until now 6 men have been given the death penalty in the serial bomb
blasts on March 12, 1993 which killed more than 250 people and seriously
injured over 700.
Mukadam was responsible for parking an RDX-laden Maruti van in the
compound of the Plaza cinema where the bomb detonated at 3:30pm killing 10
people, injuring 36 and causing damage to property worth Rs8.7 million
(Dh790,909). He also took three others with RDX-laden suitcases to the
Centaur hotels in Juhu and airport, apart from disbursing money to those
who executed the conspiracy.
Qureishi was also involved in the planting of RDX at Plaza and went to
Pakistan illegally for training in weapons and explosives. He was also
present during the landing of RDX at Shekhadi in Raigad district and was
involved in the conspiracy right till the end. Ghansar was guilty of being
present at the gate of Memon's Al Hussaini building when the RDX was being
filled into vehicles along with the detonators. The explosive-laden
scooter that he parked on Shaikh Memon Street in Zaveri Bazaar, went off
at 3:05pm killing 17 people and injuring 57.
(source: Gulf News)
Beyond the Death Penalty Debate
CHINA'S decision to execute the head of its drug regulatory agency has
rekindled international debate about capital punishment.
It is an age-old question, one that harks back to Plato, who in his "Laws"
saw the need to punish by death those who commit egregious crimes.
Supporters of capital punishment usually put forward three arguments to
justify state-sanctioned killing of those who take the life of another.
First, there is the old law of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
In the words of Immanuel Kant, not some Texas governor, no other "penalty
is capable of satisfying justice."
Then there is a utilitarian argument: capital punishment deters many
criminals from murder.
Furthermore, killing murderers prevents recidivism: if released from
prison, they might kill again.
The third argument is also utilitarian, although of a lower quality: the
state saves money by killing murderers instead of keeping them in prison
for life at the expense of the community.
Abolitionists respond with 2 ethical arguments.
First, in a modern democracy, punishment must be not only retributive, but
should also try to rehabilitate the criminal in order to enable him to
live in society with other human beings.
But, while this is a compelling argument, those who know modern prisons
recognize that many inmates are not susceptible to improvement - a fact
that cannot be attributed only to conditions of detention.
The 2nd ethical argument is based on the commandment "thou shall not kill"
which also enjoins the state from killing.
But this argument is undermined by the fact that the state can resort to
lethal force to prevent serious crimes, or to fight a war or rebellion.
Opponents of the death penalty also rely on utilitarian arguments.
The death penalty is irreversible.
If a convict turns out to be innocent, his execution cannot be undone.
Moreover, abolitionists assail the deterrent effect of the death penalty.
Thucydides, in recounting the Athenians' discussion of what penalty to
impose on the rebellious Mytilenians, noted that "the death penalty has
been laid down for many offences, yet people still take risks when they
feel sufficiently confident; it is impossible for human nature, once
seriously set upon a certain course, to be prevented from following that
course by the force of law or by any other means of intimidation
Criminologists have shown, statistically, that in US states where convicts
are executed, serious crimes have not diminished.
Other criminologists argue that this finding, if well-founded, should then
apply to any criminal law: every day, criminal prohibitions are infringed;
yet if we did not have such prohibitions, crimes would be even more
In their view, capital punishment serves at least to restrain the
homicidal leanings of human beings.
So the death penalty debate boils down to an exchange of conflicting
ethical and utilitarian views.
But we should not sit idly by and refrain from taking sides.
I, for one, believe that the death penalty radically negates the doctrine
of human rights, which is founded on respect for life and the dignity of
But, whether or not you oppose the death penalty, 2 lessons can be drawn
from the debate.
First, the fight for human dignity and respect for life, as with any
struggle for human rights, is set in motion and tenaciously pursued by
members of civil society, by individuals more than by states.
It was a representative of the Age of Reason, Cesare Beccaria, who first
advocated in 1764, in a few pages of a seminal booklet, the abolition of
Indeed, it is thanks to a few thinkers and activists that states have
gradually moved away from age-old tenets.
As Tommaso Campanella, a great philosopher who spent much time in prison
and was tortured because of his ideas, wrote a few centuries ago, "history
is changed first by the tongue and then by the sword."
Nowadays, it is associations such as Amnesty International and Hands Off
Cain that push states to abolish capital punishment.
The 2nd lesson is that the death penalty debate should not absorb all our
If we intend to abolish the gallows, we should also fight for the
prevention of crime and against the inhumanity of many prisons.
After all, what is the point of suggesting imprisonment as an alternative
to electrocution, if inmates are subjected to inhuman and degrading
treatment? How can we ignore that a high number of inmates commit suicide
- self-inflicted capital punishment - to escape the inhumanity of their
imprisonment? How can we ignore that many states today kill not only
through legal punishment, but also by murdering and massacring in
international or civil wars, or by allowing starvation? In short,
opposition to the death penalty cannot be an end in itself, for it is only
one element of a more general fight for human dignity.
(source: Project Syndicate--Antonio Cassese, the first President of the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and later
the Chairperson of the United Nations' International Commission of Inquiry
on Darfur, teaches law at the University of Florence)
(source: The Namibian)
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