[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Oct 20 15:41:57 CDT 2008
Britain's last hangman kept 'diaries of death' ---- The fascinating
diaries of death written by Britain's last hangman have been disclosed.
Harry Allen, who oversaw dozens of executions between 1941 and 1964, kept
a precise log of prisoners and how they died.
His matter-of-fact journal recorded details of each prisoner's age,
weight, height and his calculations of how long the rope needed to be to
generate the speed required to ensure a swift death.
Referring to one hanging, Allen suggested that, with hindsight, the rope
had been too short.
He noted: "Very good job but should have had another 2 or 3 inches - very
Allen was the chief executioner at 29 hangings and assisted at 53 others
in London, Manchester and Leeds.
He always wore a black bow tie during executions as a sign of respect and
for 15 years served as an assistant executioner, mostly to Albert
Pierrepoint, who was recently the subject of a film starring Timothy
Allen's most controversial execution was that of James Hanratty, hanged on
4 April 1962 at Bedford Prison, for the A6 murder case despite efforts to
clear his name.
Allen also assisted in the wrongful execution in 1953 of Derek Bentley,
who was convicted of murdering a policeman after witnesses said he told
the killer: "Let him have it Chris."
He performed 1 of the 2 final executions in Britain, when at 8am on August
13, 1964 Gwynne Owen Evans was hanged at Strangeways Prison in Manchester
for the murder of John Alan West.
Evans' accomplice Peter Anthony Allen was hanged simultaneously at Walton
Prison in Liverpool by Robert Leslie Stewart.
In his diary Allen noted that he was 29 when he witnessed his 1st
execution on November 26, 1940 at Bedford prison.
William Cooper, 24, had been convicted at Cambridge of murdering an
elderly farmer called John Harrison.
Allen described it as a "very good, clean job" despite Cooper's "loss of
courage" at the last.
The hangman wrote in his diary: "The culprit had to be carried to the
scaffold owning to his faintness."
Others though, met their maker with a smile.
Clifford Holmes seemed "very cheerful" moments before he was hanged at
Strangeways in 1941. The 24-year-old soldier had murdered his wife, Irene,
for having an affair while he was away in the army.
For some death came quickly but others suffered in their final moments.
Allen noted that murderer Walter Cross, 21, died very quickly - within 6
But Peter Griffiths, 22, who had raped and murdered a 3-year-old girl in
Blackburn, was still alive 30 seconds after the trap door opened.
The execution that seems to have made the deepest impression on Allen
happened in 1945 when 5 Nazi prisoners of war were hanged for murdering a
fellow German soldier who had betrayed their escape plan.
Allen wrote: "It was a foul murder. They staged a mock trial, kicking the
victim to death and dragging him by the neck to the toilet where they hung
his lifeless body on a waste pipe.
"These 5 prisoners are the most callous men I have ever met so far but I
blame the Nazi doctrine for that. It must be a terrible creed."
Erich Koening, 21, was the 1st of the soldiers to go to the gallows at
Pentonville Prison and swore allegiance at the last to Nazi Germany.
Allen wrote: "His last words were spoken in German. Long Live the
Fatherland. This man was in my opinion the leader of this gang of
prisoners and a definite Nazi."
Allen died in 1992, at the age of 81. His granddaughter is the comedienne
and actress Fiona Allen who starred in the television show Smack the Pony.
His diary and tools of the trade, including 2 black bow ties and his tape
measure, will be auctioned by Marshall's in Knutsford, Cheshire, on
November 11. They are expected to fetch around 5,000.
(source: The Telegraph)
Death Sentences Follow Fugitives Thick and Fast
Algeria is set to be among the top 3 countries in the world with the
highest number of death sentences passed in 2008, regularly condemning
people accused of terrorism -- whether or not they are present in court to
So far this year, nearly 300 death sentences have been handed down by
courts and tribunals around the country, Amar Zaidi, a lawyer and human
rights activist told IPS. Most of these sentences were passed in absentia
to people on terrorism related charges.
Only a small number of this year's death sentences have been for
premeditated murder and drugs-related offences, according to press
In 2007, Algeria sentenced 271 people to death, putting it third on the
list of 51 countries still passing death sentences, according to Amnesty
International. China was top of the list with more than 1,800 death
sentences, followed by Pakistan with more than 307.
In 2007, Algeria was the only Arab nation to vote for the U.N. resolution
calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Algeria could do
this because since 1993 it has observed a moratorium on executions.
Since the passing of the U.N. moratorium, there has been a worldwide
reduction in the use of the death penalty, according to NGOs. Algeria's
civil society needs to do more to educate the public on death penalty
abolition, said Zaidi.
Hocim Azem, vice-president of the Amazigh World Congress, an NGO
representing the estimated eight million indigenous Berbers in Algeria,
said it was also important for anti-death penalty campaigners to put
pressure on politicians.
"It is necessary to abolish this cruel punishment which belongs to a
bygone age. But deputies show no special interest in death penalty
abolition," he told IPS.
"There is no serious debate about the death penalty in parliament. The
democratic opposition is too weak to change anything and propose new
legislation. The government procrastinates."
He said a major reason for this inertia was religion. Then came "fear of
terrorism" and political and social factors.
In 2006, the Labour Party tabled a bill to abolish the death penalty. But
eight parties, including the ruling National Liberation Front, refused to
back the bill. Also in 2006, the criminal code was revised and the number
of death penalty crimes was reduced.
Azem called into question the fairness of the trials which have resulted
in the passing of death sentences. "Many citizens have been arrested and
sentenced without evidence," he said.
The party Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) is actively pressing for
death penalty abolition. RCD holds 19 seats in the 390-seat parliament.
Hadj Arab Lila, an RCD MP and lawyer, told IPS that she would support
abolition of this "cruel and inhuman" punishment. "It is absurd that it is
still retained in our criminal code."
Many expect RCD party chief Said Saadi to contest next year's presidential
elections. The party is now campaigning against a constitutional amendment
that would allow President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to serve a 3rd term.
Saadi is popular among the Berbers, many of whom support death penalty
abolition. Many Berbers also support the Socialist Forces Front (SFF),
also in favour of abolition. But the SFF boycotted the 2007 elections, and
is not represented in parliament.
Farouk Ksentini, head of the human rights advisory commission, has
recently called on the president to abolish the death penalty. "It has no
deterrent affect on crime," he told the press. It was also tarnishing the
country's reputation, he said.
Ksentiti said that he was facing criticism from clerics because of his
anti-death penalty views.
Ksentiti has also raised the issue of Abdelmoumene Khelifa, apparently
hinting at what could be an additional reason for Algeria abolishing the
death penalty. He said Britain was refusing to hand over Khelifa because
it was feared that he might face the death penalty. In 2007, Khelifa was
sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment after the collapse of his
financial empire, including the Khelifa Bank which was closed by the
European Union members are prevented from extraditing anyone to a country
where they have been sentenced to death in absentia or could face the
death penalty -- even if that country is observing an execution
In the most recent statement on the death penalty from an NGO, the
honorary president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights,
Abdennour Ali Yahia, called for a new debate on the issue.
"Before making a decision, there should be consultation between men of
justice and religion," he was quoted as saying in the Algerian
French-language newspaper L'Expression Oct. 15. He added that there were
innocent people on death row.
(source: IPS News)
Yemen upholds death sentence on spy
A Yemen court of appeal confirmed on Monday a death sentence on espionage
charges against a Saudi who had been stripped of his citizenship, while it
acquitted a Yemeni national.
Hamad al-Dhahouk, a former Saudi soldier of Yemeni origin, and Abdul Aziz
al-Hatbani, an officer in Yemen's army, were both sentenced to death in
February by a court specialised in handling terrorism cases.
They were convicted of passing false information to the Egyptian embassy
in Sanaa claiming that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were financing a terrorist
cell in Yemen to attack tourists in Egypt, with the knowledge of the
The court found "the evidence provided was valid against" Dhahouk, 50,
whose Saudi citizenship was revoked in 1995.
Hatbani, on the other hand, was set free.
At their initial trial, which began in June 2007, the prosecution accused
Dhahouk of passing documents containing the false information to the
Egyptian embassy and demanding money in return.
Dhahouk said during interrogation that he had been a soldier in Saudi
Arabia but was expelled from the country in 1995 during a visit by Yemeni
President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
He claimed that the Saudi authorities told him "Go with your president,"
and revoked his Saudi citizenship.
Earlier this month, the same court began the trial of three Yemenis who
are alleged to have spied for Iran.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Hang 'em high - Blair wants death penalty executed, prisoners to work
Amid cries for Jamaicans to return to their roots, a popular church leader
has called for the state to resume the hanging of convicted murderers.
Speaking yesterday during the Heritage thanksgiving service held at the
Waltham Park New Testament Church of God in Kingston, Bishop Ronald Blair
said he believed capital punishment had its place.
"There is need for some tough decisions and people will grumble and cry.
But we'll have to make (those) decisions if we're going to have change in
our land," he said as the packed church erupted in applause and amens.
Blair, the brother of Political Ombudsman Herro Blair, said he knew that
many of his colleagues would disagree with his view, but it was an opinion
he was willing to stand by.
Last Friday, a pastor, while on the pulpit, was attacked and chopped with
a machete by a man. Eyewitnesses said the man attempted to behead the
pastor. He was taken to hospital where he got several stitches.
Put to work
Blair said in addition to capital punishment, prisoners should be put to
"Even if we must put leg irons on them, they must clean our gullies or do
some work so that they can feed themselves," he said.
He said the money that they would have been paid could also be used to
bring assistance to the families of their victims.
Blair also called for Jamaicans to return to the traditions of caring,
sharing and godliness.
"We have adopted a spirit of selfishness. It's me, myself and I," he said.
"There was a time when we cared for the young, and cared for the aged and
every vulnerable person in our society."
Though the death penalty is on the books in Jamaica, an execution has not
taken place since the late 1980s.
The Pratt & Morgan ruling by the United Kingdom Judicial Committee of the
Privy Council mandated that the sentences of inmates on death row for more
than five years be commuted to life imprisonment.
That ruling has frustrated hanging efforts.
Although local and inter-national human-rights groups assert that hanging
should be scrapped, in alignment with international trends, polls show
that most Jamaicans are in favour of the death penalty.
source: Jamaica Gleaner)
The death penalty
The death penalty is a punishment given to a criminal by having them
killed. Also known as capital punishment, it's the maximum sentence that
could ever be given to someone. It could be carried out in different
This could be by hanging, electrocution, use of lethal injections
(poisonous) and firing squad in the army. Crimes such as murder and
treason (rebellion against government) call for a death penalty depending
on a country's law.
While many people and human rights activists condemn this kind of
punishment, Uganda unlike other countries still carries it out. Although
the death penalty is claimed to prevent and stop crimes, its also thought
as inhuman and cruel by some people.
Despite all pleas to abolish the death penalty, the law of Uganda still
favours it; however there is a constitutional petition in Parliament to do
away with it. Other international conventions do not also support the
While civilians who are condemned to death are allowed to appeal, those in
the army are not. The last executions in Uganda were conducted in 1999.
October 10, was the world day against the Death Penalty.
(source: Linda Neruba, The Daily Monitor)
Chinese court upholds death penalty for police killer
A Shanghai court has upheld the death penalty for Yang Jia, a jobless
Beijing man who stormed into a Shanghai police bureau earlier this year
and killed 6 officers.
After the final trial of Yang's case, the Shanghai Higher People's Court
turned down his appeal against the death sentence handed down earlier by a
local court, according to the final verdict the court announced Monday.
The Shanghai court's death sentence verdict needs to be ratified by the
Supreme People's Court in Beijing.
Yang, 28, was sentenced to death on Sept. 1 in the 1st trial at the
Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court for killing 6 officers and
injuring 4 others in the July 1 assault.
A 2nd trial was held last week to hear Yang's appeal.
Yang stabbed a security guard at the police branch in Shanghai's Zhabei
District and started a fire at its gate. He then forced his way into the
building and attacked 9 police officers, killing 6 of them. 3 other police
and the security guard were injured.
Yang was apprehended at the scene and confessed to the killings.
He was reportedly revenging Shanghai police for a lengthy interrogation
last October, when he was questioned for riding an unlicensed bicycle. He
later sued the officers for 10,000 yuan (1,464 U.S. dollars) in
compensation for psychological damage but the claim was rejected.
(source Xinhua News)
Iran maintains death penalty for teenagers convicted of murder
Iran is to continue with the death penalty for juveniles convicted of
murder despite moving to end the practice for those found guilty of lesser
The Iranian deputy state prosecutor, Hossein Zabhi, said it remained
necessary to execute those who had committed murder before reaching the
age of 18 under the country's Islamic laws.
The legislation demands an "eye for an eye", as defined in the Qur'an.
Zabhi's comments greatly dilute the effects of a state directive, issued
last week, which instructed judges to curtail the use of capital
punishment for those who had committed crimes as children.
The directive was hailed by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
as a major step forward in Iran's attitude towards child executions.
Both organisations had voiced hopes that the decision, taken by the
Iranian judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, would save
around 120 teenagers currently awaiting execution.
Iranian law carries the death penalty for several offences, including drug
trafficking, apostasy and rape.
Human rights lawyers say the vast majority of minors on death row have
murder convictions and would be unaffected by the change.
"The new directive bans execution of criminals who are under 18 only if
they have committed crimes related to narcotics that carry death penalty,"
Zabhi told the Associated Press.
"We can't deny a victim's family the legal right to ask for Islamic qesas
... eye for eye retribution."
He added that those convicted of serious drug offences would be given life
sentences with the possibility of parole for good behaviour.
However, Mohammad Mostafai, a lawyer who has represented many juvenile
defendants, said the number of people reprieved would be in single
figures, dismissing the directive as an attempt to ease international
(source: The Guardian)
Iran declares moratorium on executions of juveniles----6 juveniles have
been executed in Iran this year
A moratorium has been placed on death sentences for people who were under
18 when they committed capital crimes in Iran.
The move, which has immediate effect, has been welcomed by gay groups and
campaigners for human rights.
In December 2007 the UN passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on
the death penalty for all crimes.
The vast majority of executions of juvenile offenders take place in Iran,
where judges can impose the death penalty in capital cases if the
defendant has attained "majority," defined in Iranian law as 9 years old
for girls and 15 years old for boys.
Iran is reported to have executed at least 6 juvenile offenders so far in
2008. More than 130 other juvenile offenders are currently sentenced to
In 2005 Iran sparked international outrage when it publicly executed 2
Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were hanged because according to the
regime they were rapists, however gay campaigners insist the boys were
killed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.
At first it was claimed by Iranian officials that they were aged 18 and
The best evidence is that both youths were aged 17 when they were executed
and therefore minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes.
Iranian human rights campaigners estimate that 4,000 gay men have been
executed since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Under Sharia law gay sex illegal, with penalty of death for offenders as
young as 14 years old.
"The ban on juvenile execution is an important human rights development
for sexual minorities, particularly those perceived to be gay," said the
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's executive director
"All too frequently, young Iranian men have been executed as juveniles
after being charged with sodomy and other sexual crimes. This is a
positive step toward improving human rights in Iran."
OMCT, an international coalition of NGOs fighting against torture, summary
executions, forced disappearances and other human rights abuses welcomed
the announcement as a crucial step in the fight against the death penalty
for juvenile offenders in Iran.
"OMCT remains concerned by the fact that the directive has no legal
binding force and judges could ignore it until the prohibition of the
death penalty against juveniles is expressly enshrined in the law by an
act of Parliament," the group said.
OMCT has called on the Iranian authorities to stop all pending executions
of juvenile offenders, commute death sentences and start the legislative
process leading to the adoption of a law by the Iranian Parliament stating
the absolute prohibition of the death penalty for all persons that were
under 18 at the time the crime was committed.
(source: Pink News)
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