[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Nov 26 15:38:59 CST 2008
Livni asks Thai foreign minister to commute Israelis' death sentence
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni talked with her Thai counterpart on Wednesday
afternoon about commuting the death sentences handed down there Tuesday
against two Israelis convicted on drug-smuggling charges.
The two men, Alon Mahluf, 37, and Vladimir Agronik, were arrested last
year in a drug bust on Bangkok's Kao San Road, a destination popular with
Thailand's foreign minister told Livni there were many more stages in the
judicial process and said the death sentence was far from being executed.
At the end of the conversation, they agreed that the Foreign Ministry
would continue to follow the case.
(source: Jerusalem Post)
China urged to stay execution of alleged spy
The U.S. government and human rights groups urged China Wednesday to halt
the execution of a Chinese medical researcher convicted of spying for
Taiwan and voiced strong concerns about alleged flaws in the man's
Wo Weihan's final appeal was denied in February and his family was
informed on Nov. 18 that the Supreme People's Court has approved his
execution, Wo's daughter Ran Chen said.
Chen said family members were told to arrange to see him as soon as
possible, usually a sign that the sentence is about to be carried out. She
said a visit had been arranged for Thursday morning at Beijing's
Intermediate People's Court, which is responsible for carrying out the
The court said Wednesday it did not have any information on Wo's case and
the Supreme People's Court did not respond to faxed questions on the case.
Chen, an Austrian citizen pursuing graduate studies in Berkeley,
California, said her 59-year-old father was convicted mainly on the basis
of a confession that he later recanted. She said the scant evidence
brought by prosecutors never proved the spying charges.
According to a copy of Wo's conviction, his alleged crimes include
revealing the health status of an unnamed high ranking Chinese official
information considered state secret by China. Wo was also convicted of
passing on data about missile control systems. Chen said that data had
been published in a magazine and was only later classified as secret.
Wo was accused of passing the information through a middle man to a group
linked to the Taiwanese intelligence agencies. Taiwan and mainland China
divided amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing has maintained a threat to
invade the island if it declares formal independence, prompting both sides
to spy extensively on each other.
Trained as a medical researcher, Wo ran a medical equipment supply company
on the outskirts of Beijing and frequently traveled abroad. He was
detained in January 2005, but not permitted to see a lawyer until a year
Wo has been held in a prison hospital since March 2005, shortly after
suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was sentenced to death by the Beijing
court in May 2007 after a closed trial.
His appeal was denied on Feb. 29 this year and his sentence automatically
forwarded to the supreme court for approval as required by the Chinese
Although courts have been ordered to apply the death penalty for only the
most egregious crimes, China remains the world's leading executioner of
prisoners, including many convicted for nonviolent crimes. Amnesty
International recorded 470 executions last year, calling that figure an
absolute minimum based on publicly available reports.
"Available information suggests that Wo Weihan did not receive a fair
trial according to international standards," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia
Pacific director, said in a statement.
Joshua Rosenzweig, research manager for the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation,
said there was "no justification" for the death penalty in Wo's case, and
said serious questions remained about his lack of access to a lawyer and
the circumstances of his confession.
Rosenzweig said he couldn't recall another capital case in China that had
attracted so much international attention.
Austrian, European Union and U.S. diplomats have brought diplomatic
representations over the case.
"I frankly don't know what impact it will have, but this case is
definitely unique in this respect," he said.
The U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying it was "deeply disturbed" by
reports that Wo's execution had been approved.
"We have expressed repeatedly and at high levels our serious concern about
the lack of transparency and due process regarding Mr. Wo's case," it
The embassy called Wo's sentence "disproportionately severe" compared to
those meted out in similar cases, and complained that he had not received
legal counsel until prosecutors had finished their investigation.
Ambassador Clark T. Randt Jr. and David Kramer, the U.S. assistant
secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, raised Wo's case
with Chinese officials recently, the statement said, and had requested a
stay of execution to allow for further review.
The Foreign Ministry did not immediately reply to queries about China's
response to the appeals.
Despite such efforts, Chen said she felt there was only "a really, really
small hope" that her father's life would be spared.
"I want to appeal as a daughter to spare my father because this would
destroy a life and destroy a family," she said.
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