[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Sep 16 14:14:35 CDT 2007
In the Colosseum, thoughts turn to death
At midnight on Thursday, I lay on my back in the Colosseum and looked at a
pageant of stars above Rome. Where the lions tore into gladiators, and
only a few metres from the cross marking the place of Saint Paul's
crucifixion "martyrdom", of course, has become an uneasy word in this age
of the suicide bomber I could only reflect on how a centre of cruelty
could become one of the greatest tourist attractions of our time. An
Italian television station had asked me to talk about capital punishment
in the Middle East for a series on American executions and death row
prisoners. 2 generators had melted down in an attempt to flood the ancient
arena with light. Hence, the moment of reflection.
Readers with serious money may also like to know that it costs 75,000 to
hire the Colosseum for 24 hours, a cool 10,500 just for our little night
under the stars. Yet who could not think of capital punishment in the
Watching the 1st episode of the Italian television series which recounted
the visits of an Italian man and woman to 2 Americans who had spent years
on death row in Texas I was struck by how both prisoners, who may or may
not have remembered amid their drug-induced comas whether or not they
murdered anyone, had clearly "reformed". Both deeply regretted their
crimes, both prayed that one day they could return to live good lives, to
care for their children, to go shopping, walk the dog. In other words,
they were no longer the criminals they were when they were sentenced.
Given their predicament, I guess anyone would reform. But I suspect that
guilt or innocence is not what the death sentence is about. My Dad was
perfectly aware that the young Australian soldier he was ordered to
execute in the First World War had killed a British military policeman in
Paris, but the Australian promised to live "an upright and straightforward
life" if pardoned. My father refused to kill the Australian. Someone else
shot him instead. Capital punishment, for those who believe in it, is
almost a passion. I rather think it is close to an addiction, something
like smoking or alcohol which can be cured only by total abstinence. And
no excuses for secret Japanese executions or lethal injections in Texas or
head-chopping outside Saudi Arabian mosques. But how do you reach this
stage when humanity is so obsessed with death in so barbaric a form?M
Whenever the Iranians string up drug-dealers or rapists and who knows
their guilt or innocence the cranes which hoist these unfortunates into
the sky like dead thrushes are always surrounded by thousands of men and
women, often chanting "God is Great". They did this even when a young
woman was hanged.
Surely some of these people are against such terrible punishment. But
there is, it seems, something primal in our desire for judicial killings.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote that if Christians were thrown to the lions
in the Royal Albert Hall, there would be a packed house every night. I'm
sure he was right. Did not those thousands of Romans pack this very same,
sinister Colosseum in which I was lying to watch just such carnage? Was
not Saddam Hussein's execution part of our own attempt to distract the
Iraqis with bread and circuses, the shrieking executioners on the mobile
phone video the Baghdad equivalent of the gladiators putting their enemies
to the sword? Nor, let us remember, is execution only the prerogative of
states and presidents. The IRA practised capital punishment. The Taliban
practises execution and so does al-Qa'ida. Osama bin Laden and I heard
this from him in person believes in the "Islamic" punishment of head
I remember the crowds who lynched 3 Palestinian collaborators in Hebron in
2001, their near-naked bodies later swinging from electric pylons while
small children threw stones at their torsos, the thousands who cheered
when their carcasses were tossed with a roar of laughter into a garbage
truck. I was so appalled that I could not write in my notebook and instead
drew pictures of this obscenity. They are still in the pages of my
notebook today, hanging upside down like Saint Paul, legs askew above
their heads, their bodies punctured by cigarette burns.
The leading antagonists in the preposterous "war on terror" which we are
all supposed to be fighting Messrs Bush and bin Laden are always talking
about death and sacrifice although, in his latest videotape, the latter
showed a touching faith in American democracy when he claimed the American
people had voted for Bush's first presidency.
For bin Laden, 11 September 2001 was "punishment" for America's bloodshed
in the Muslim world; indeed, more and more attacks by both guerrillas and
orthodox soldiers are turning into revenge operations. Was not the 1st
siege of Fallujah revenge for the killing and desecration of the bodies of
American mercenaries? Wasn't Abu Ghraib part of "our" revenge for 11
September and for our failures in Iraq?
Many of the suicide attacks in the Middle East in "Palestine", in
Afghanistan, in Iraq are specifically named after "martyrs" killed in
previous operations. Al-Qa'ida in Iraq stated quite explicitly that it had
"executed" US troops in retaliation for the rape and murder of an Iraqi
girl south of Baghdad.
Yet I fear the real problem goes beyond the individual act of killing,
judicial or otherwise. In a weird, frightening way, we believe in violent
death. We regard it as a policy option, as much to do with
self-preservation on a national scale as punishment for named and
individual wrongdoers. We believe in war. For what is aggression the
invasion of Iraq in 2003, for example except capital punishment on a mass
scale? We "civilised" nations like the dark armies we believe we are
fighting are convinced that the infliction of death on an awesome scale
can be morally justified. And that's the problem, I'm afraid. When we go
to war, we are all putting on hoods and pulling the hangman's lever. And
as long as we send our armies on the rampage whatever the justification
we will go on stringing up and shooting and chopping off the heads of our
"criminals" and "murderers" with the same enthusiasm as the Romans cheered
on the men of blood in the Colosseum 2,000 years ago.
(soruce: Column, Robert Fisk, The Independent)
Noli: Full govt help for OFW on death row
Vice-President Noli de Castro said the Philippine government is providing
full support for a Filipina sentenced to die in Kuwait for murdering her
female employer in September 2005, ABS-CBN News reported.
De Castro, who is also President Arroyo's adviser on migrant workers'
concerns, said 2 lawyers were hired by the government to ensure that
Ranario's appeal for life imprisonment.
He said the lawyers have so far failed to obtain forgiveness for Ranario
from the victim's spouse and sibling. The victim's mother and two other
siblings, however, agreed to forgive the Filipina.
De Castro likewise dismissed reports saying that Ranario only has 16 more
weeks to live. He said lawyers could still argue on factors that might
change the sentence.
Lawyers said the case is schedluled to be heard by the Kuwaiti Supreme
Court this week.
De Castro also said that the President has promised to help raise "blood
money" required for the victim's family. He added that the emir of Kuwait
has also been asked for help.
Ranario, 33, a former teacher, was found guilty of murdering her employer.
A criminal court sentenced her to death by hanging.
The Filipina has one last chance to appeal her case before the ruling
becomes final. She admitted that she only meant to "harm" the victim who
had abused her.
Under Kuwaiti law, a convicted murderer may be granted pardon, provided
the family of the victim accepts the blood money being offered.
(source: ABS-CBN News)
Bali bombers facing death row 'ready to die'
A lawyer for the three Bali bombers on death row in Indonesia says they
are ready to die after signing a last statement reportedly vowing their
deaths would lead to hell for infidels.
The three were convicted over the nightclub bombings in 2002 that killed
202 people, including 88 Australians.
The attacks were blamed on the Jemaah Islamiah militant network linked to
Indonesia's Supreme Court last month rejected an appeal from the men,
Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron.
Now their lawyer say the 3 are ready should their executions have to be
He says they have signed a joint final statement but declined to give
The Koran Tempo newspaper says it has obtained a copy of the statement, in
which the 3 say their deaths will become a ray of light for Muslims and
become hell for infidels and hypocrites.
(source: ABC News)
Iranian court sentences two teenagers convicted of rape to death
An Iranian court sentenced two teenagers to death on the charges of rape
and murder, the state-owned Iran daily reported on Sunday.
The court in Shiraz, 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Tehran sentenced
Reza, 16, and Mohammed, 18, to death for raping and killing 9-year-old
Karim Tajik and 10-year-old Mohammed Shiri in April 2007.
The teenagers were also sentenced to 3 years in prison and a 100 lashes.
According to the newspaper, the suspects confessed to raping the boys,
tying them up and then tossing them into the river in Marvdasht town to
There were 2 other suspects in the crime, 1 of whom was acquitted and the
other sentenced to flogging.
Over July and August, Iran hanged dozens of people on charges of rape,
robbery and kidnapping, which along with drug trafficking, are all capital
offenses in Iran.
On Thursday U.N. High Commissioner Louise Arbour said on a recent visit to
Tehran that she had expressed particular concern about the death sentences
handed out to juveniles in violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights
of the Child.
Earlier this year Human Rights Watch said that Iran had executed at least
3 juvenile offenders in 2004, eight in 2005 and four in 2006, describing
the country as the world's leading offender.
In June, Iran said that the execution of people under the age of 18 had
practically stopped and the government was working to outlaw the practice.
(source: Associated Press)
IDP Election Pledge to Punish Drug Offenders with Death Sentence
Maldives' drug crisis is spiraling out of control, and it is clear that
something has to be done. But the million dollar question is what. Now the
Islamic Democratic Party say they have the solution -the death penalty.
Islamic Democratic Party spokesman Yoosuf Zuhuree told Minivan today his
party would impose the death penalty on anyone caught smuggling drugs into
the Maldives, if they won the next presidential election.
He said the Government had failed to tackle the drugs the issue.
"All of the Maldives' problems are connected to drugs," he said. "And the
death penalty is the only way to protect Maldivian people from this evil."
The death penalty would not apply to drug users, he added. But they would
always receive the maximum prison sentence.
But the IDP's proposals have unleashed a widespread torrent of criticism
DRP Chief Government spokesman Mundhu said capital punishment would cause
social chaos in a country the size of the Maldives.
"And I'm not sure it's even necessary for drug traffickers," he said.
"There is always the option of maximum imprisonment of 25 years if needs
Meanwhile MDP Secretary General Hamid said the IDP were "raving lunatics."
"You can't go around killing people, this isn't the solution to the drugs
problem," he said. "A modern, civilized society must also be humane."
And Aishath Velezine, of Hama Jamiyya NGO, was equally scathing. She said
the IDP was out of touch and extreme.
"They only talk about violent ways,"she said. "obody studies why this drug
problem is happening. If we dont do that, it will never be solved."
Minivan asked members of the public what they thought. Abdullah Yoosuf,
Sales Executive, said the Maldives public would rally against this type of
inhumanity. Abdullah, 27, said: We wouldnt stand for it, we are not
familiar with this kind of violence. Hotel manager Alam, 33, said the IDP
were a little bit crazy. But an Australian tourist, who refused to be
named, said he thought the death penalty was acceptable in some cases.
Under Maldives law capital crimes include premeditated murder, attempted
assassination of the president, conspiracy against the sovereignty of the
State, and acts of terrorism. The President has powers to grant clemency.
In January 2007 eight people were passed death sentences for the murder of
Evan Naseem. But President Gayoom commuted their sentences to life
imprisonment. The last execution took place in 1952.
(source: Minvan News)
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