[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Dec 31 01:59:45 CST 2008
Dispute over legality of Saddam execution continues 2 years on
It has been 2 years since former dictator Saddam Hussein was executed. In
2006 he was found guilty of crimes committed against residents of the
Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982, following a failed assassination attempt
Hussein's trial and execution provoked a mixed reaction worldwide, winning
the approval of some countries in the west, but many in the Muslim world
were appalled by Saddam's treatment.
Hussein was captured by U.S. troops on December 13, 2003, after more than
6 months on the run. Initially there were many random sightings of Saddam,
but none could be authenticated and Saddam would sometimes release
recordings of his protest against the invasion.
After a trial lasting in Iraq for 3 years, Hussein was sentenced to death
and executed on December 30, 2006. From his 1st court appearance, Saddam
Hussein questioned its legitimacy, calling George W. Bush the real
criminal. Saddam and his lawyers contested the court's authority as, they
insisted, he was yet the President of Iraq.
The trial was also known for the assassinations and attempts on the lives
of several of Saddam's lawyers, as well as the replacement of the chief
presiding judge just midway through.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International dubbed it a show trial and
said it was a significant step away from Iraq's rule of law.
Meanwhile, William Ramsey Clark, the U.S. former Attorney General and
winner of the Gandhi Peace Award, claims Saddam Hussein was tried fairly
though, he says, it was tough work to ensure that.
(source: Russia Today)
On death row, Nigerian draws the hanged
The doomed man's eyes stare blankly ahead as he shuffles down a dark
corridor, spreading a hush through the death-row cells. The hangman pushes
a black hood over the convict's head and tightens a noose around his neck.
The trapdoor opens beneath his feet with a clang that reverberates around
the stone walls. A gurgle, one last rattle of chains, then silence.
Through the iron bars of his cell near the gallows of this Nigerian
prison, Arthur Judah Angel watched the hangman do his morbid work for
almost a decade, witnessing the hangings of more than 450 of his fellow
convicts. He committed their names to memory and many of their images to
Now, 51 drawings that survived Angel's incarceration are attracting the
attention of human rights activists and art lovers alike, allowing the
artist to turn his years of horror into activism against the death
"I had to document our ugly world," said Angel, 46, who spent a total of
16 years in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit before being
freed in 2000. "It was drawing that kept me going in there. It gave me a
Angel was beaten and thrown behind bars in January 1984 when he went to
visit a friend who had been taken into custody at a neighborhood police
station. He was 21 then and planned to begin university that year.
5 days later he was charged with murdering a policeman. Police asked for a
bribe to free him, but his mother was too poor to pay, he says. So Angel
was held for 2 years until his case went to court. After a 6-day trial in
which police were both the complainants and only witnesses, he was
sentenced to hang.
On death row, he lived in a 7-foot-square cell with up to 13 other
condemned criminals. A bucket in the corner was the toilet. At night the
cellmates had to lie down side-by-side to sleep. If one wanted to turn in
the night, he would have to stand and then squeeze himself back in.
The cell was one of 18 which housed over 200 condemned men in Enugu prison
one of Nigeria's largest.
A detailed pencil drawing by Angel on rough pink cardboard shows the
semi-naked prisoners hunched in awkward positions. Scrawled across the
grimy walls are the names of previous occupants and the dates of their
execution. Angel named the drawing "Sleeping in Limbo."
"That existence is one between life and death. You don't belong to either
world," Angel explains.
Condemned criminals were not allowed to keep pens or paper so Angel's
first prison drawing was done on a cell wall with charcoal smuggled from
the kitchen. It was a cartoon cowboy designed to cheer up his cellmates,
but it also caught the eye of the wardens.
"They started coming to me and asking me to do drawings for them," he
recalled. "I would draw cards or portraits for them and in return they
would allow me a pencil and a spare piece of paper."
By night, Angel turned his artistic focus from the images he was
commissioned to do, to the macabre sights around him.
The cell's concrete roof had a small hole in the center that provided a
circle of light when the moon shone. Angel would jostle for position
beneath the hole and squat with a sheet of paper on his knees to do his
Some of his pictures are scrawled on book pages, others on faded
cardboard. Many are rough at the edges, slightly torn or damaged by damp.
Most of these dark artworks did not survive.
The 51 that endured were smuggled out by his parents when they visited.
These now provide a unique insight into daily life on death row: from the
shuffling, chained and hooded figures driven by the guards' clubs toward
the gallows, to the stooped heads and empty expressions of the other
inmates, a captive audience at the execution.
"You don't know if next time it will be your time to go," Angel says.
"From Monday to Friday you expect executions in the morning. When the
gallows are prepared, we all got nervous. You hear the chains clanking,
and the trap door banging. You see the hangman walk past the cells. Most
inmates don't have the strength to eat before midday."
Angel was prepared for execution once fed his last meal with his legs
chained but at the end of the day his name was removed from the list.
"I once saw 58 executed in one day," he says. "But I wasn't meant to die
In October, Amnesty International asked the Nigerian government to declare
a moratorium on executions, saying the country's criminal justice system
was "riddled with corruption, negligence and a nearly criminal lack of
The London-based rights group said over half of the 736 inmates facing
death were convicted on the basis of written confessions that many said
were extracted under torture.
In addition, at least 80 death row inmates were sentenced with no right to
appeal, Amnesty said, and others faced decades of delays on appeals
because of missing case files or a lack of lawyers to represent them. The
group used Angel's images to illustrate its reports and organized
exhibitions of his work to further its campaign against the death penalty.
In what amounts to an acknowledgment of flaws in its criminal justice
system, the government has appointed 2 commissions of inquiry, both of
which also recommended a moratorium on death sentences.
No such action has been taken, but on Nov. 14, President Umaru Yar'Adua
pardoned a man who had been on death row for 22 years and ordered the
justice minister and attorney-general to review prison inmates' records
and bring other "deserving cases" to his attention. It was not clear what
prompted the pardon or what constituted "deserving cases."
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, with 140 million people
according to government census figures. Despite being Africa's biggest oil
producer, poverty, violent crime and corruption are widespread.
Angel's luck changed when a representative of the British Council, the
British government-funded cultural organization, got one of his drawings.
He visited Angel on death row and organized 2 exhibitions of his work in
Enugu town in 1993 and 1994.
The exhibitions were well attended and widely covered by the media, and
soon petition drives were organized to demand Angel's release. In 1995, a
prominent human rights lawyer took his case and after a series of appeals
he was released in February 2000.
Angel now works as an artist and a human rights activist, painting in a
small studio in a rundown suburb of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city. He has
married and has 3 small children.
He sells the portraits and landscapes he now paints, but his real passion
remains the works depicting what he saw in prison. Rights groups from
around the world have used his 51 death row works to lobby for the
abolition of the death sentence, and Angel says he could never sell them.
"These works represent the 16 years that were taken from my life," and
even if Nigeria abolishes the death penalty, the pictures "will remind the
government that we mustn't go back to such a time," he says. "These are
works that price tags cannot be attached to."
(source: Associated Press)
A prisoner was hanged in public in Nikshahr
A prisoner identified as Abdolrahman Baluch Zehi was hanged in public by
the mullahs' judiciary in the southeastern city of Nikshahr, reported the
official daily Kayhan on Monday.
On January 31, the mullahs' judiciary chief, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi,
ordered death penalty should be carried out behind close doors. This is a
new tactic by the Iranian regime to carryout other heinous crimes such as
amputating limbs and gouging eyes behind closed doors.
"We have repeatedly seen that people expressed sympathy with the person
who was going to be hanged in public. People even expressed their
abhorrence at the execution of the sentence," said the assistant
prosecutor for sentences in Tehran's criminal prosecution office, the
state-run daily Javan reported on January 31.
"With far less expenditure, executions could be carried out in prison," he
The state-run websites also admitted to the adverse effects of public
hangings and noted that the victims' gestures before being hanged deeply
affected the young people and left heroes image in their minds. These
websites regretted that in addition to generating hatred among people,
public hangings have also damaged the status of the regime in the world.
(source: National Council of Resistance press release)
Court orders retrial of murder convict
QATAR'S Supreme Court of Justice has ordered the retrial of a Qatari man
who was handed death penalty by an appeal court in a murder case.
The highest judicial authority rarely issues verdicts but it generally
supervises the correctness of the 2 lower courts' procedures.
According to the defendant's lawyer, the Supreme Court found defects in
the implementation of law during the previous hearings.
The appeal court last January upheld the death penalty against the 49-year
old man, who was convicted by a 1st instance court for "premeditated
The sons of the victim have refused to accept blood money as compensation
and opted for carrying out the death sentence of the convict.
According to the charge sheet, the accused murdered his compatriot
colleague, also in mid-40s, following a row on September 20, 2005.
"The accused rammed the victim with his car after a drunken brawl over a
woman from a GCC country who was present in a party at a farm," the
The defendant's lawyer argued that the witnesses, including the woman
herself, "were all drunk at the time of the incident and hence their
testimonies could not be reckoned with."
He told Gulf Times that the new decision would keep his client's hope of
escaping the death penalty.
(source: Gulf Times)
Saudi Arabia beheads man for killing mom, brother
A Saudi man was beheaded by the sword on Monday in the western city of
Taif after being convicted of killing his mother and brother, the interior
The mother and brother burned to death, and a sister was injured, after
Mohammed al-Sehimi set his familys home on fire in the wake of an
argument, the ministry said.
The decapitation took to 102 the number of executions announced in 2008 by
the Saudi authorities. In 2007, a record 153 people were executed in the
country, which applies a strict version of sharia, or Islamic law. That
compared with 37 in 2006 and the previous record of 113 in 2000.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry
the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, where executions are usually carried
out in public. In October, human rights watchdog Amnesty International
said the number of executions in Saudi Arabia was surging and that the
principal victims were poor migrant labourers and Saudis without
Meanwhile, the family of a Quebec man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia
said they are disappointed so far with efforts by the Canadian government
to intervene in their case. Mohamed Kohail, 23, has been sentenced to
death by decapitation after a brawl in a schoolyard turned fatal nearly 2
years ago when he was visiting his parents.
(source: The Times of India)
Mutilated Body of Young Woman Found
The headless body of a young pregnant woman was found in a rice paddy in
Bekasi, east of Jakarta, on Monday morning, police said, in the 5th such
case in the country in the past few months.
The unidentified body, dressed in a red shirt and white trousers, was
found by a farmer in Setia Asih village, said Susatyo Condro, chief of the
detective unit at the Bekasi Police.
Police later found the womans head some 100 meters from where the body was
"Her head was wrapped in a plastic bag. We suspect that she had been
killed about 2 hours before her body was found," Susatyo said, adding that
the body showed no signs of decomposition.
"We suspect that she was killed by someone she knew," he said.
He added that the police also found a bottle of medicine in a pocket of
the woman's trousers.
However, he declined to give details on the medicine.
The body was sent to the National Police Hospital in Kramat Jati, East
Jakarta, for forensic examination.
Seno, an officer at the forensic division, said that the woman was 3
months pregnant and was estimated to be in her mid-20s.
She was 160 centimeters in height, had fair skin and short wavy hair.
Some experts say one reason mutilation killings were on the rise was
because criminals were inspired by previous cases and could be carrying
out copycat killings.
Verry Idham Henyansyah, known as Ryan, allegedly killed, dismembered and
buried 10 victims in the garden of his parents' home in Jombang, in East
Ryan, who faces the death penalty, was arrested in July after the body of
his alleged latest victim was found in South Jakarta.
He is suspected to have killed 11 people during the past 2 years in a
spree that has shocked the nation.
(source: Jakarta Globe)
Unmasking capital punishment / Victim's kin questions point of executions
[This is the 8th installment of Part II of the series of articles focusing
on capital punishment in Japan. ]
As his body lay in the coffin, the man bore no traces of his agonizing
death. Instead, he had a subtle smile.
The execution of death row inmate Toshihiko Hasegawa was carried out on
Dec. 27, 2001, when he was 51. 2 days later, his funeral was performed at
a church in Nagoya. About 70 people attended the funeral, including
Masaharu Harada, 61.
Akio, Masaharu's younger brother, was killed in January 1983 when he was
30 by Hasegawa and his accomplices. Akio was employed by Hasegawa as a
truck driver. Hasegawa had taken out a life insurance policy on Akio and
had him killed in collusion with 2 accomplices to collect the money.
Hasegawa and one of the accomplices also killed 2 other people.
In his testimony at a district court hearing, Harada said he hoped
Hasegawa would receive the death penalty, saying, "I believe there can
never be any other punishment other than the death penalty."
After Hasegawa was sentenced by the district court, he began writing
Harada letters of apology.
Harada, however, would throw the letters away unopened. Only once did he
unfold one of the letters.
As his anguish over the tragedy faded, he decided to reply to Hasegawa.
"I am sorry for not to replying to you for so long," Harada wrote. The
number of letters from Hasegawa increased, with some containing drawings
of religious subjects that he drew "to express my feelings of atonement."
In the summer of 1993, just before Hasegawa's sentence was finalized,
Harada visited the Nagoya Detention House.
Up until the moment he entered the interview room, Harada felt he might
lose his temper with Hasegawa.
"I'm incredibly glad that you are so kind as to come here to meet me!" the
death-row convict said to Harada.
Hasegawa seemed filled with joy while conveying his gratitude. Harada
found his anger dwindling. Even after the death sentence against Hasegawa
was finalized, Harada visited the detention house 3 times under special
permits to see the convict.
Harada quoted Hasegawa as saying on one occasion, "Should I be allowed to
get out of here, I would like to give your mother a massage, as I have
learned massage techniques in my cell."
As Harada listened to Hasegawa during these visits, he came to feel that
he was truly repentant and deeply cared about the bereaved families of the
victims of the murders he was involved in.
"Although I had no intention of forgiving him, I wanted him to live and
continue conveying his atonement with all his heart," Harada said. "My
mind changed as I became aware that nothing worthwhile could come from his
Harada has more than 100 letters and several drawings made with a
ballpoint pen from Hasegawa.
In 2007, Harada founded an organization to encourage dialogue between
crime victims and imprisoned criminals.
Once, when he interviewed a convict sentenced to die, Harada advised him
to apologize from the bottom of his heart to his victims.
Fears of false accusation
Yoshiyuki Kono, 58, one of the victims in the 1994 sarin gas attack in
Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, by Aum Supreme Truth cult members, also has
his doubts about the wisdom of the death penalty system.
His opposition is based on his own experience of almost being falsely
accused of murder.
On the night of June 27, 1994, sarin was sprayed from the parking lot
adjacent to Kono's home. 7 people were killed by the gas. Kono and his
wife, Sumiko, were hospitalized.
Kono recalls that he thought he was about to die just before he fell
unconscious due to the gas.
When he recovered from his coma, Kono learned that in spite of being one
of the victims in the incident, he was regarded as a prime suspect in the
He told his son at the time, "7 people were killed in the incident, and if
I were deemed the culprit, I would surely face execution."
Police searched Kono's home thoroughly on suspicion of murder, and though
they did not arrest him, he was subject to questioning many times by
The day after he was released from the hospital, one of the investigators
yelled at him during questioning at a police station, "There's no doubt
that you did it!"
"If something went wrong, I could have been sentenced to death," Kono
"An execution, if administered because of a false accusation, would be an
irreversible mistake," he said.
On Aug. 5 this year, Sumiko, who had been in a coma since the night of the
attack, died at the age of 60.
Except for the occasions on which he left Matsumoto to give lectures on
his experience, Kono took care of Sumiko, visiting her daily at a facility
for the mentally and physically disabled.
"I'm fully aware of, and sympathetic toward, the wishes of bereaved
families in heinous cases to see the offenders receive capital
punishment," Kono said. "But as long as we are tied down by hatred, we
cannot be happy."
Even after his wife's death, there has been no change in his opposition to
capital punishment, Kono said.
(source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
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