[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Aug 29 22:48:44 CDT 2011
Privy Council rejected argment death penalty was unconstitutional in 1995
Amid an escalating murder rate, the 2006 Privy Council decision that eliminated
the mandatory death penalty for murder convicts has been the subject of much
However, few can recall that the Privy Council in 1995 rejected the argument
that the mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional.
In 2008, Dame Joan Sawyer commented on the effect of the 2006 decision. She
said, "As far as society was concerned the conviction was valid. We now have to
come back to these cases more than 10 years after the Privy Council declared
the mandatory death penalty constitutional in Larry Raymond Jones. The system
cannot withstnd these vicissitudes."
Jones, who was convicted of a drug-related hit, was released from prison in
2007 during a re-sentencing hearing which was held in the Supreme Court to
comply with the Privy Council's current position on capital punishment.
He was among 10 convicts released on re-sentencing because the 2006 landmark
decision invalidated their death sentences.
The consolidated appeals of Larry Raymond Jones, Peter Meadows, Anthony Neely,
Jeremiah Poitier, Arnold Heastie and Nekita Hamilton against the constitutional
validity of the mandatory death sentence led to a decision by authorities to
suspend hangings pending a determination on the issue. The proceedings began on
June 21, 1989, but the Privy Council did not make its final judgment until
April 3, 1995.
In the 1995 case, lawyers for the appellants based their argument on the
wording of section 312 of the Penal Code. They submitted that the words "liable
to suffer death" imported a discretion in the judge to pass some lesser
sentence. The Court said that it was "inconceivable that such a radical change
in the law as the abolition of the death penalty for murder would have been
enacted by something other than clear and express words rather than the
ambiguous terms of section 312."
In its 2006 decision, a differently constituted court that heard the appeals of
Trono Davis and Forrester Bowe Jr. found that the mandatory death penalty was
considered cruel and inhuman punishment since 1973. The court found that the
mandatory death penalty fettered the judge's discretion to consider the
convicts' personal circumstances and the facts of their crimes.
(source: The Nassau Guardian)
Spare my son, don't hang him, pleads father
As politics builds up around the three men sentenced to death in the
assasination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, all that the
septugenarian father of one of those on the death row can do is to plead for
70-year-old Gnanasekharan, father of A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivy, is literally
running from pillar to post in an effort to somehow avert the Sep 9 execution
and save his son's life.
"It is a situation that even an enemy should not be in," Gnanasekharan told
IANS in a phone interview. "We are counting days of my son's life here and just
cannot bear the thought of a noose around his neck."
His throat turns lumpy with grief.
"He was in no way part of the conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi and does not
deserve a death penalty," Gnanasekharan said.
Perarivalan, Murugan alias Sriharan and T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan are from
Chennai, and after President Pratibha Patil turned down their mercy petitions
are to be hanged to death on Sep 9 in the jail at Vellore.
"He was 19 when arrested and now he is 37," Gnanasekharan said. "Even though he
has been in jail all these years, we are happy that he is at least alive. But
now we really do not know what to do."
He was confident of help from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. "Our
biggest hope was shattered when she said she had no power to alter sentence,
now that the president has rejected the mercy petition," he said.
"If President K.R. Nayaranan could commute the sentence of Nalini, the first
accused, why could the (present) president not do the same for my son, the 18th
accused?" he asked.
A few years ago, the death sentence of Nalini was commuted to life imprisonment
at the instance of Gandhi's widow and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
According to the charge sheet, Perarivalan's role in the assassination was
helping another accused, Sivarjan, by purchasing two battery cells for the
"human bomb" Dhanu who killed Gandhi.
A woman suicide bomber blew up herself and Gandhi, who was the prime minister
of India from 1984 to 1989, at an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai
May 21, 1991.
On Aug 11, President Pratibha Patil rejected the mercy petitions of the three
men linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ordered
In 1998, all 26 accused in the case - including the three - were sentenced to
death by a special trial court.
"I met him 15 days ago and even then he was confident he will be free at some
point," Gnanasekharan said of his son. "He told me that he will be there for us
in the late hours of our life. But now I cannot go and talk to him. What do I
tell someone on the verge of execution?"
According to Vellore jail superintendent, the three men on the death row have
been informed about the date of hanging. The execution will be carried out
early morning Sep 9.
As a father grieved for his son's return, Arithra, the 20-year-old daughter of
Murugan, begged for mercy for her father in a phone interview to news channels.
(source: New Kerala)
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