[Deathpenalty] [SPAM] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Aug 16 09:33:54 CDT 2011
8 sentenced for abducting, murdering children in China as govt tries to combat
The Chinese government is tightening adoption rules to combat child
trafficking, state media reported Tuesday, a day after 8 people convicted of
abducting or murdering children received sentences including the death penalty.
Only orphanages will be able to offer abandoned infants and children for
adoption, and adults who adopt without official registration will not be
recognized as legal guardians, the China Daily reported.
China has a thriving domestic black market in children, mostly involving buyers
who want more children or those who want them as slave labor.
Forcing people to go through official adoption channels will reduce the demand
for abducted children, Ji Gang, the director of the domestic adoption
department of the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption, was quoted
as saying by the China Daily. The rules being drawn up are due to be introduced
by the end of the year.
Authorities in northwestern China announced earlier in the year they would
crack down on the trafficking of Xinjiang children, some of whom are bought or
kidnapped by gangs who force them into pickpocketing and other nonviolent crime
in China’s eastern cities.
Xinhua News Agency said the children targeted are mostly aged between 10 and 18
and from 4 cities in Xinjiang, a region with majority Han Chinese and minority
Many of them are forced into stealing by gangs after being conned to leave home
for large- and medium-sized eastern cities with fake job offers, Xinhua said.
On Monday, eight people were sentenced in 5 cases, including a father who sold
his 12-year-old daughter twice to pickpocket gangs and 2 child traffickers who
beat a boy into a coma and then threw him into a river.
In one case, a ring headed by Umair Tohti coaxed young children in Xinjiang
into working as migrant laborers in Huizhou City, in southern Guangdong
province, and beat and abused them, Xinhua reported, citing the sentence handed
down by the Urumqi Municipal Intermediate People’s Court.
On Nov. 9, 2009, Tohti and 2 others, Tudi Daman and Memet Ahmat, beat a young
boy who had attempted to flee into a coma and threw him into a river, where he
drowned, Xinhua said.
Tohti was sentenced to death, and Daman and Ahmat were both sentenced to
suspended death with a 2-year reprieve, according to the verdict. Such
sentences usually are commuted to life in prison if the prisoner shows good
In another case, Arken Wusiman sold his 12-year-old daughter in April 2009 to
criminals who trained her as a pickpocket. After the girl was rescued and sent
back home, Wusiman sold her again to another pickpocketing gang in January this
year. He also sent two other abducted children to work as pickpockets, Xinhua
said, citing the Markit county People’s Court.
He was sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan ($780).
In the 3 other cases, 4 people were convicted of child trafficking and
sentenced to jail terms ranging from two and a half years to 11 years.
Xinhua said authorities in Xinjiang have sent police who speak Mandarin and
Uighur to other provinces to assist in the crackdown on child trafficking.
Xinhua said that since April police had rescued more than 500 abducted Xinjiang
children, cracked 90 criminal rings and detained 464 suspects.
The region’s Communist Party chief, Zhang Chunxian, said in April that rescued
the children will be returned home and placed in government-run shelters that
provide schooling and a safe environment, according to Xinhua.
(source: Associated Press)
The judicial death of reason
On 12th August the Anti-Terrorism Court handed down its judgment in the Sarfraz
Shah case: 1 death penalty and 6 life sentences and compensation payments to be
made to the family of the deceased. Judging from sentiments expressed in major
news sites and social media, it seems that the internet frequenting public has
generally welcomed the verdict as a great leap forward for the rule of law –
see, for example, here and here. I disagree – I do not believe that sentencing
six low-level, unknown law enforcement agents and a 7th civilian with the same
maximum punishment that could judicially have been meted out to a convicted
terrorist is in any way reasonable criminal justice.
As I wrote in my earlier article on this issue, punishment should always be
proportional, predictable and not go beyond what is necessary to deter criminal
behavior. This decision does not seem to reflect any of these three attributes
– instead, it looks more like the paradigm example of a populist court trying
to placate calls for retribution.
To be clear, I do not propose that these men should not be punished – I indeed
wrote about holding them accountable. However, I do not think it is good policy
to see ordinary rangers being labeled and punished excessively under the same
regime used to punish terrorists – is there really no difference in culpability
between the two?
Criminal law should always be free from the passions of subjective moral
judgment; it exists to deter crime, not to satisfy a human desire for
retribution. Although true justice in this case would have required the court
to insulate itself from these very subjective moral biases that were so evident
in the public discourse, this did not happen. On August 4th the Supreme Court
ordered the ATC to swiftly conclude the trial “in a transparent manner” – as if
there’s no tradeoff between speed and quality of justice; in other words, the
ATC was encouraged to quickly convict the men. Since our justice system is so
outstandingly competent, only eight days later, a harshly disproportionate
decision was handed down.
Clearly, by trying suspects who were guilty of manslaughter (or at worst,
murder) within a regime designed for “terrorists”, the courts unfortunately
signaled quite publicly that they would not divorce criminal policy from
popular passions. Did the actions of the rangers here really fit the definition
of terrorism? The Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 states that terrorism is when an
action (including death) is caused “to coerce and intimidate… the public …” – I
find it hard to understand how the action of the rangers here was intended to
intimidate the public at large – no doubt they engaged in criminal behavior but
surely we do not normally perceive of such behavior as terrorism. As such, the
decision to try these men on the same level footing as one would a terrorist
who say, blows a bomb inside a mosque, was quite arbitrary and unnecessary.
Let us also not forget that if we are to blindly accept this unsustainably
broad definition of terrorism advanced by the court, then one could also argue
that any common mobile thief whose actions lead to bodily harm and generates
fear “in the public” could also be tried for terrorism. So much for
predictability in the law – our courts now have the power to charge anyone
guilty of a crime with terrorism-related offences when an excited public
Finally, will this decision actually deter trigger happy law enforcers from
engaging in extra-judicial killings and therefore make the streets of Karachi
any safer? Perhaps; some rangers (who mind you are generally considered a
competent security provider) will think twice before shooting a suspect if the
costs of being wrong are so grave and this will of course save civilian lives,
which is clearly desirable.
On the other hand, it will also deter some rangers from acting in situation
where we actively desire them to use force. For example, when faced with a
genuine ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario where public security necessitates the use
of armed force, a ranger may hesitate to act for fear that he, or his comrades
may pay with their lives if it is later discovered that an inadvertent mistake
was made in the heat of the moment. Such over-deterrence is not desirable and
costs lives. Of course, what happened with Sarfraz Shah was not such a
situation at all – there was no justification for his killing, but we can
imagine some occasion in the future where facts may not be so black and white.
Rather than mete out excess punishment to satisfy the public appetite for
‘justice’, the court then should have done a number of things: it could have
engaged in a cost-benefit exercise and openly balanced the need to maintain
public security with the conflicting desire to protect and compensate
unlawfully injured victims. It could have done this by providing guidelines
that clarified when a use of force by rangers is justified.
Similarly, rather than engage in superficial rhetoric of justice, it could have
conducted a investigation into the command chain of the rangers and determined
if any seniors authorized such a shoot to kill policy – of course it is always
much more convenient to make an example out of low-level sepoys but this is not
justice. One hopes that on appeal these issues will not be ignored.
(source: Dawood I. Ahmed has previously practiced as a solicitor in England and
is currently pursuing a doctorate in international law at UChicago; The views
expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not
necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group)
Clemency pleas for convicted murderers centred on objection to death penalty
---- The first letter: 1998
Gay Mitchell personally handed in a letter to the US Embassy in Dublin in 1998,
addressed to the US government and congress, protesting the impending execution
of Louis Joe Truesdale Jr.
Truesdale was convicted in 1980 of the kidnap, rape and murder of Rebecca Ann
Eudy (18). According to the prosecutors, Truesdale forced Eudy into his car at
gunpoint, shot her 4 times and raped her as she bled to death.
The Mitchell campaign commented: "Gay Mitchell pointed out that Mr Truesdale
was the 500th person to be executed since the restoration of capital punishment
in the US in 1976. He pointed out that, of 3,300 people on death row, 46 were
women and 58 were juveniles."
The 2nd letter: 2003
Mr Mitchell wrote a letter calling for a halt to the execution of Paul Jennings
Hill, who was convicted of the murder of a doctor and his bodyguard outside a
US abortion clinic in 1994.
Then Florida governor Jeb Bush -- a brother of George W Bush -- ignored Mr
Mitchell's plea and Hill was executed by lethal injection in 2003.
The Mitchell campaign commented: "Like most people seeking clemency, Mr
Mitchell made it abundantly clear that he abhorred Paul Hill's crime. He has
always taken that view in other cases.
"Paul Hill's impending execution in 2003 drew clemency pleas from every corner
of the globe spanning people from the widest selection of political, civic and
"It was led by Amnesty International and one of the victim's daughters wrote
eloquently pleading for clemency."
(source: Irish Independent)
Simpson calls for reintroduction of death penalty
UPPER Bann MP David Simpson has lent his support to calls for the death penalty
to be introduced.
The DUP man has spoken after petitions were made to Downing Street calling for
it to be debated in Parliament.
Mr Simpson said, “The key thing in establishing any sentence for any crime is
whether or not the punishment fits the crime and whether or not the sentence
handed down is he due, proper and proportionate punishment for what has been
done. I am of the view that there are some crimes that are so grievous and
aggravated and are of such a magnitude that the only fitting, due proper and
proportionate response is to hand down the death penalty.
“The truth is that this is not and never really has been about the issue of
deterrence, although clearly the person concerned would never repeat their
offence. It is rather about a particular type or scale or order of offence
demanding that a particular sentence be handed down.”
Mr Simpson acknowledged that people have argued against capital punishment on
the grounds of possible miscarriages of justice but said that for him the truth
that is really about process rather than principle.
“If the judicial processes are right then that risk can be overcome,” he said.
“For example in what would be a capital crime where the death penalty would be
sought by the prosecution it could be established that several types of
evidence were required – eg forensic, circumstantial and eyewitness and it
could be laid down that the death penalty could only be considered if several
strands of evidence were compellingly present.
“And again it could be laid down that it could only finally be enacted after a
proper appeals mechanism was exhausted.”
Others have argued that a life sentence is actually a greater and more severe
sentence. This is not so – for the bringing to an end of all human potential
and future is far, far greater.
He concluded, “The death penalty is a terrible thought and no-one should speak
of it lightly – but that is the heart of the matter. For there are some crimes
– such as the recent mass murders in Norway that are so terrible that only such
a sentence could answer effectively to what has been done.
“I believe that it would now be right for Parliament to debate this subject
again after a lengthy gap. For my part I believe that the death penalty should
be available to society – when it comes to such things as the murder of little
children or police officers or multiple killings.”
(source: Banbridge Leader)
Tonku to Hang
The High Court sitting in Kampala yesterday, convicted and sentenced to death
by hanging businessman, Thomas Nkulungira a.k.a Tonku for murdering
ex-girlfriend Brenda Karamuzi, before dumping her body into a septic tank last
The trial Judge, Albert Rugadia Atwooki, however, acquitted his co-accused Fred
Ssempijja, his former shamba boy of murder but found him guilty of being an
accessory to murder. He accordingly sentenced him to 5 years in jail.
While passing the death sentence, Judge Atwooki, said he was giving the maximum
sentence to deter other people from unlawfully taking away other people's
lives. "Court condemns such kind of brutality. Life must be respected by all
and should never be taken by anyone apart from God, the creator," ruled the
judge adding, "that kind of brutality Brenda went through cannot be taken
lightly. You are sentenced to death, may God have mercy on your soul".
During mitigation, Nkulungira told court that he maintains his innocence. "I
maintain my innocence in this matter my Lord," said Nkulungira responding to
the Judge's question on whether he had anything he wanted to tell court before
he could pass his sentence.
Through his lawyer John Patrick Barenzi, Nkulungira who looked calm but
pensive, maintained that he was dissatisfied with the judgment and that he was
going to appeal against it.
The law provides 14 days for appealing. Still during the mitigation, principal
State Attorney Joan Kagezi asked court to hand Nkulungira the maximum penalty
of death by hanging arguing that the deceased was only 27 years, a fresh
graduate in search of a job and the convict took advantage of her vulnerable
state to kill her.
Ms Kagezi, said that the issue of searching for jobs has become a problem as
criminals have taken advantage of young ladies to traffic them into domestic
slavery, sexually abusing them and that the court should send out a strong
warning to such characters.
Prosecution had alleged that Mr Nkulungira together with Ssempijja murdered
Brenda Karamuzi, between January 21-30 last year at his home found in Bukasa,
Muyega, a Kampala suburb before dumping her body into a septic tank. It also
adduced evidence that placed the accused squarely at the scene of crime.
The judge while sentencing Ssempijja to 5 years in jail noted that he was a
young foolish man who was blinded by the love of money in exchange of assisting
his then master Nkulungira to carry Karamazi's body to the septic tank. There
were tears of joy and dancing soon after the judgment by Karamuzi's family
The mother of the deceased, Ms Joy Karamuzi who had been following the court
proceedings closely said she was satisfied with the judgment though her
daughter will not come back.
The deceased's uncle, Dr Warren Namara, said justice has been served, though as
per their culture, they don't rejoice in the death of another person before
condemning his soul in hell. Nkulungira's friends and family members were in
shock. Following the ruling, they walked out quietly.
Tonku's journey to freedom cut short
January 18, 2010 was the day she was murdered. She had arrived earlier that day
at Thomas Nkulungira, her boyfriend's residence in Bukasa, Muyenga, a Kampala
suburb, carrying a bag containing her belongings and hoping, according to the
defence, to stay for 1 week as she cooled off from recent hard times.
Brenda Karamuzi's mutilated body was recovered almost two weeks later from a
septic tank within the compound.
2 people were arrested, Nkulungira and his gardener Ssempijja. Karamuzi and
Nkulungira had been lovers since 2004 after a brief meeting in Fort Portal.
During the trial, Nkulungira described their relationship as that of
"convenience and compromise". According to him, they had a short lived love
relationship which was non-committal even though during the trial, their
relationship was variously described as "casual", "ex-girlfriend", and
"friends". "I called her my friend," Joy Karamuzi, Brenda's mother said with a
crestfallen gaze as she pulled out 2 of her daughter's photographs from a bag
to show me. Nkulungira claimed he used to pick Karamuzi from a home in Najjera
where she lived with a friend.
In their testimonies against Nkulungira, Karamuzi's sister, Amelia Karamuzi and
her friend Carol Ndibarungi said the accused had on several occasions made love
advances to the late but she had turned them down.
It also emerged during court proceedings that Nkulungira did not have a stable
girlfriend though he could host a string of ladies at his residence at
Prosecution argued that Nkulungira had lured Karamuzi to his house with a
promise of securing her a job and that he took this opportunity to kill her
because she had on several occasions turned down his advances.
Talking between reflective spells of silence, Karamuzi's mother described her
daughter as a "social and humorous child" who would not have given anybody
reason to harm her. "Brenda talked to everyone and I don't know why Nkulungira
killed her," she said. For a mother waiting for justice to be delivered there
can be no consolation.
"I know justice will prevail, the God who directed the fumigators to open the
septic tank and also cause a mechanical problem to his car which he could have
used to dump the body may be to Lake Victoria will surely expose the killer,"
Several nights, Brenda and her mother had shared the same bed whenever they
visited each other. After her graduation from Uganda Christian University in
Mukono she later worked with NTV Uganda as a receptionist before joining AYA
group as a public relations officer.
She died at the age of 27.
(source: All Africa News)
Divided We Execute
The execution of a Palestinian father and son by Hamas security forces in Gaza
throws up a sharp difference over the death penalty between Gaza and the West
Bank. In the West Bank a temporary moratorium in in place.
The executions were carried out despite pressure from Palestinian and
international human rights organisations for the death penalty in the occupied
Palestinian territories to be rescinded.
"Although few of the West Bank sentences are carried out as Palestinian
Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t sign the orders, the judicial
system and sentencing procedures haven’t improved. We continue to struggle with
other human rights groups to get the PA to change its laws," Jaber Wishah from
the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) told IPS.
The 2 were executed in July following their conviction on charges of treason
The man aged 60, and his 29-year-old son had been sentenced to death by a
civilian court in November 2004. Hamas’s ministry of the interior asserted that
Gaza’s Court of First Instance sentenced the defendants to death by hanging
after Gaza’s Court of Cassation rejected an appeal against the death penalty
and endorsed the First Court’s sentence.
Hamas officials said the men had confessed to providing Israeli forces with
intelligence which helped them track down Palestinian resistance fighters
including Hamas leader Aziz Rantisi who was killed in a 2004 Israeli air strike
on his car.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the death sentences,
saying they had been carried out without ratification from Abbas.
Under Palestinian law death sentences have to be ratified by the president
under the Code of Criminal Procedures of 2001. The leader has withheld approval
in recent cases, creating a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the
Israeli-occupied West Bank, where his administration still holds sway.
A political schism between Gaza’s Hamas leaders and the Fatah-affiliated PA in
the West Bank following the 2007 civil war has split the Palestinian legal
system, with the Hamas judiciary working independently of the judiciary in the
PA law allows the death penalty. The Palestinian Penal Code applying in the
West Bank enables imposition of the death penalty for 17 offences. In the Gaza
Strip, 15 offences can risk the death penalty. The penal laws are normally
implemented by ordinary civil courts.
In addition to the current Palestinian penal code, the PA also imposes the
death penalty pursuant to the PLO Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979.
This code enables imposition of the death penalty for 42 offences, and is
applied by special military and state security courts. These special courts are
responsible for the vast majority of death sentences imposed by the PA.
This situation has been criticised by civil judges from the PA’s Judicial
Thuraya Alwazir, one of the PA Judicial Authority’s few female judges,
expressed dissatisfaction with the military courts taking over the jurisdiction
of civilian courts.
"We are not happy about this and believe that only civilian courts should have
the authority to impose the death penalty. The president is aware of our
concerns and the matter was being looked into. However, due to the current
political situation the legislation has remained on hold," Thuraya told IPS.
According to Israeli rights group B’tselem, the imposition of the death penalty
in the Palestinian judicial system contravenes international law in several
These include the broad number of offences for which the penalty can be applied
and the way these special courts deny defendants elementary rules of due
process. The accused are given little opportunity to defend themselves, and
there is no judicial procedure to appeal the decisions of military and state
So far this year 5 Gazans have been executed by the Hamas authorities.
B’tselem says that between 1995 and 2010, 89 Palestinians were sentenced to
death. However, "only" 18 executions were carried out.
2 of the death sentences were commuted to prison sentences. 8 of the condemned
were murdered while in PA custody. A further 3 were murdered after escaping
from prison during Israel’s military assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead,
December 2008- January 2009.
11 people were released from prison or managed to escape, while 2 people
sentenced to death are missing. The rest remain on death row.
Haider Ghanem from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip was on death row in Gaza’s
central prison for a number of years. He was accused of providing Israel with
information that led to the death of a number of Palestinian resistance
He managed to escape during Cast Lead. But masked Hamas gunmen abducted him
from his sister’s home during the second night of his freedom.
"A group of heavily armed Hamas men forced their way into our home and took
Haider away," his sister Ighlas Ghanem told IPS. "Several days later we were
informed were we could retrieve his body. He had been severely beaten and had
been shot numerous times in his legs and arms before being executed."
Retrials high hurdle but sole tack for wrongfully convicted
Last month, the 1997 robbery-murder allegedly committed by Nepalese Govinda
Prasad Mainali made headlines after a new DNA analysis showed the victim may
have been with another man at the time she was slain and not the accused, who
has maintained his innocence.
District Court found Mainali not guilty in 2000, the high court appealed and
sentenced him to life — a term upheld by the Supreme Court and finalized in
2004. He is currently in a Yokohama prison.
The higher courts based their verdicts on the assumption that the accused must
have been the only person with the victim.
For people whose sentences are finalized, the only way to win an acquittal,
presuming a wrongful conviction has occurred, is through a retrial.
Mainali has been seeking a retrial for years, filing a motion in 2005. With the
new evidence, expectations are high that he may finally get one and clear his
Following are questions and answers regarding the long and difficult retrial
What legal preconditions must be met for winning a retrial?
Under the Criminal Procedure Law, only someone whose sentence has been
finalized can file.
The convicted or the legal representative must present new and clear evidence
to support the bid, including proof that past testimony or expert opinions were
A 1975 Supreme Court decision eased the criteria by ruling a retrial can be
held if there is "reasonable doubt" about the finalized verdict.
If the convicted has died or is declared not of sound mind, a spouse or other
direct next of kin can file for a retrial.
Prosecutors, who can file and appeal to reverse an acquittal, are meanwhile
prohibited from seeking retrials for people who have been cleared, although
they can file an objection to a court decision to hold a retrial.
Hiroshi Sato, a defense lawyer who has been involved in cases involving
apparent wrongful convictions, stressed that not only is the life of someone
wrongfully found guilty affected but also the real criminal remains
"It is a double mistake committed by the state," Sato said. "One simple mistake
could have an irredeemable impact on the person wrongfully convicted of the
crime . . . (but) also would let the real culprit run free and victimize more
Why can a retrial process be drawn-out?
First there is a 3-step application process. Prosecutors or defendants can file
an objection to a court's decision to approve or reject a retrial 3 times.
But even if the retrial bid is ultimately rejected, there is no limit to the
number of times one can be sought.
Thus it is not uncommon for someone convicted to repeatedly seek a retrial.
Many spend years, even decades, just seeking a retrial.
"Prosecutors will fight till the end to argue that the guilty verdict was
correct," Sato said. "It takes too long to right a wrongful conviction in
retrials. We must make sure that no innocent person is convicted in the initial
What is the history of the retrial system? Have judicial precedents been
established over the years?
The history of retrials goes back to the 1880 "Chizaiho," a law that later
became the current Criminal Procedure Law.
The current criminal law which took effect in 1949, stipulates that retrials
must only be granted if it benefits the convicted.
But almost none was granted, with the exception of a handful of people who had
been sentenced to death for heinous crimes before and in the period immediately
after the war.
In 1968, a bill to grant special retrials to people sentenced to death during
the Allied Occupation, when political influence could have swayed the verdicts,
was submitted to the Diet.
The bill was scrapped but the justice minister at the time, Kichinosuke Saigo,
declared during a committee session in July 1969 that he would consider
granting amnesty to 7 death-row inmates.
"It is natural to grant amnesty to those who deserve it in light of the
circumstances of the crime, their behavior and the situation after the crime
has been committed," Saigo said before the Lower House committee.
In the end, only 3 of the 7 were granted amnesty. One was executed, another
died of natural causes in prison and 2 won acquittals in retrials.
Then came the 1975 Supreme Court easing of the criteria in connection with the
Shiratori Incident, ruling that a retrial should be held if there is reasonable
doubt concerning a guilty verdict.
The case was named after police officer Kazuo Shiratori, who was gunned down in
Hokkaido in 1952. One of the people convicted of the crime and sentenced to
life pleaded innocent and demanded a retrial.
The top court's decision of reasonable doubt pertaining to the convict's guilt
had a significant impact on the retrial system, opening the door to a series of
In the 1980s, 4 people on death row were granted retrials that resulted in
acquittals. But since the 1990s, no other death-row inmate has been acquitted.
How may people have been acquitted by retrial?
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations said it is aware of 14 serious
criminal cases, including murder and robbery-murder, that involved people on
death row or serving prison terms in which retrials resulted in acquittals
since the war.
The group does not have data on all convictions that were reversed but the
number would spike if lesser offenses were included, such as traffic-related
The group is currently supporting six criminal cases in which retrials are
sought, including Mainali's.
In May, Shoji Sakurai and Takao Sugiyama won not-guilty verdicts for the murder
of a 62-year old carpenter, more than 40 years after they were handed life
sentences in 1970.
A client of Sato's, Toshikazu Sugaya, was freed in June 2009 after a fresh DNA
test failed to match that found on the 4-year-old girl he was convicted of
killing in 1990, although an initial test at the time was used to convict him,
when DNA testing was in its infancy. He spent 17 years in prison.
But retrials of death-row inmates remain rare, the last one being granted in
Death-row inmate Masaru Okunishi, however, may become the 1st to be granted a
retrial in decades. In April 2010, the Supreme Court revoked a lower court
ruling on Okunishi's retrial application and ordered the Nagoya High Court to
deliberate the case further.
Okunishi has been on death row since 1972, convicted of killing 5 women and
wounding 12 with poisoned wine in Mie Prefecture. This is his 7th retrial
Do many on death row seek retrials?
Yes. According to a JFBA survey released in January, 71.1 percent of 110
death-row inmates were applying for or planning to apply for retrials.
The law does not stipulate the suspension of a sentence while the convicted
pursues a retrial, but legal experts say that in most cases, executions will be
put on hold.
Is there an independent review system?
No. Retrial applications are handed to the courts that handed down guilty
verdicts. If a retrial is granted, it would be brought before the same court.
In January, JFBA urged the government to set up a 3rd-party committee to
analyze alleged wrongful convictions to learn how they came about and to
recommend preventive action.
"There is a limit to an internal examination," the group said in a statement.
"It is clear that the investigation must be held by an independent 3rd party,
separate from the police, prosecutors or the courts, to hold an exhaustive
examination to determine the cause of misjudgments."
What about other countries?
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Criminal Cases Review Commission
was established in 1997 to examine possible wrongful convictions or unfair
As an independent public body, it considers "whether there is new evidence or
argument that may cast doubt on the safety of an original decision."
If the CCRC determines that a case resulted in a wrongful or unfair sentence,
it will refer it to the appeals court for reconsideration.
A similar commission was set up in Scotland in 1999.
In the United States since the early 1990s, the nonprofit group Innocence
Project has been helping to win the exoneration, via DNA testing, of people
believed wrongfully convicted.
According to the group, 273 people have been cleared through DNA tests in the
U.S., including 17 who were on death row.
Such findings have led several states to issue a moratorium on the death
penalty or abolish it, including Illinois, whose governor signed the bill to
end it in March.
(source: Japan Times)
More information about the DeathPenalty