[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Sep 17 16:58:45 CDT 2007
Tunisia Islamists may face death penalty-lawyer
A Tunisian prosecutor has charged 30 Islamists with membership of a
terrorist group, saying they planned a military coup, their defence lawyer
said on Monday.
The 30 Tunisians were expected to go on trial at the end of 2008, the
lawyer, Samir Ben Amor, said, adding they were also accused of putting at
risk the country's domestic security and of receiving military training in
"They could face the death penalty," he told Reuters. He added that some
of the 30 had denied the charges while others did not contest them, but
did not elaborate.
The charges relate to rare serious disturbances in which 14 Islamist
gunmen were killed in clashes with security forces in and around Tunis on
Dec. 23 and Jan. 3. Ben Amor said.
A previously unknown group calling itself "Tunisian Youth for Unity and
Jihad" said the gunmen were its members. The authorities have said no such
group existed but acknowledged that the gunmen were radical Islamists who
were carrying details about foreign embassies.
Tunisia is a stable country known to most Europeans only as a holiday
destination but since 2003 the north African country has arrested about
1,000 people on terrorism-related charges.
Continent grapples with issue of capital punishment
Across Africa, capital punishment is becoming increasingly unpopular.
In Tanzania, despite the fact that no law has officially abolished the
death penalty, no one has been executed in the country since 1994.
Although there are reports of extrajudicial killings in Rwanda's prisons,
the country's Parliament officially outlawed the death penalty in June.
And Kenya hasn't executed anyone since 1985. Though there were three
military executions in 2003, Uganda hasn't put a civilian to death since
1999. In that year, 28 people were hanged at Luzira Prison. But despite
the unofficial moratorium, death sentences continue to be handed down, and
the nation remains on Amnesty International's list of death penalty
practitioners. In an article in the Daily Monitor, Glenna Gordon says
other countries continue to grapple with the issue. Uganda's Commissioner
of Prisons, Johnson Byabashaija, opposes capital punishment and thinks
some of the 520 or so death row inmates are innocent. Susan Kigula, who is
on death row for committing murder, says the justice system 'makes
mistakes because it is comprised of human beings, who are bound to make
mistakes'. She estimates that only 60% of the people on death row actually
committed the crimes for which they were convicted. The rest, she says,
are victims of a broken legal system. A visiting American judge wants
Ugandan judges to substitute the death penalty with lighter sentences for
convicted capital offenders. Abdulai Conteh, the Chief Justice of Belize,
a Caribbean State, said Uganda should be part of the growing world trend
against the death penalty. Conteh commended the Constitutional Court
decision that relaxed the sentencing procedure of capital offenders in
Uganda, thereby outlawing provisions of the law that make the death
penalty mandatory in certain offences. He said instead of sentencing
inmates to suffer death, the courts should be ordering jail terms and life
imprisonment, 'depending on the circumstances under which the offence was
committed and the circumstances of the convict.'
(source: Legalbrief Africa)
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