[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at smu.edu
Tue Feb 21 15:29:06 CST 2012
Iraq's 2012 executions top 2011's number
Iraq executed four people this week, bringing the number of people put to death
so far this year to at least 69, or one more than in all of 2011, a justice
ministry official said on Tuesday.
"4 people, 2 of them convicted of terrorism-related charges and the others
convicted of murder and kidnapping, were executed on Monday morning," the
official told AFP.
All 4 were Iraqis, the official said.
The country has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in
which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were
executed on January 31.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has expressed shock at the
number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings
and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.
"I call on the government of Iraq to implement an immediate moratorium on the
institution of the death penalty," she said.
"Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be
a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day," said Pillay.
(source: Yahoo News)
EU Urges Halt To Iran Execution Of Canadian Resident
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has renewed calls
for Iranian authorities to halt the execution of an Iranian man with Canadian
Ashton said in a written statement on February 21 that she was "extremely
saddened and concerned about reports that the execution of Iranian software
designer Saeed Malekpour may be imminent."
Malekpour was charged with "designing and moderating adult-content websites"
that contravene Iran's Islamic laws, and a death sentence was reportedly
confirmed by Iran's highest court on January 16.
He was also charged with offenses against Iran's leadership, including
spreading antiregime propaganda, insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, contact
with foreigners and opposition groups, and blasphemy.
The Canadian government and Amnesty International have also called for
Malekpour's immediate release.
Malekpour's supporters say he developed a program that allows photographs to be
posted to the Internet, which was used without his knowledge for the creation
of pornography sites.
Malekpour was arrested in Iran in 2008 while visiting his dying father in Iran,
put on trial, and sentenced to death.
His sister, Maryam Malekpour, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that he "just wrote a
computer program that could have been used by these immoral websites or any
other website." She cited fundamental flaws in the trial -- including the lack
of a computer expert -- and said her appeals to Iranian judiciary officials had
Malekpour appeared in a televised confession made in 2010, in which he admits
to all the charges against him and which his sister says was made under duress.
Numerous Iranians released after similar confessions have later said they were
tortured or tricked into confessing.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird last month condemned the high court's
confirmation of Malekpour's death sentence.
Malekpour is a metallurgical-engineering graduate of Tehran's Sharif Industrial
University who started to work as a web designer in Canada in 2005.
Malekpour's wife, Zohreh Eftekhari, told Radio Farda in 2010 that her husband
never managed any website but was a designer whose customers were usually
travel agencies or pharmacies.
(source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
After death sentence confirmed, bereaved family of young mom and baby takes
Hiroshi Motomura, right, the bereaved family of a woman and her baby girl who
were killed in 1999, speaks at a press conference after the defendant was
sentenced to death. (Mainichi)Thirteen years after a mother and her baby
daughter were murdered in Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, the defendant's appeal
was rejected by the Supreme Court, effectively setting his death sentence in
"The appeal is rejected," announced Presiding Judge Seishi Kanetsuki at 3 p.m.
on Feb. 20. Hiroshi Motomura, 35, whose then 23-year-old wife and 11-month-old
daughter were murdered in 1999, had been listening to the sentence with his
eyes shut, carrying photos of his loved ones in his arms. He bowed deeply
toward the four justices assigned to the case, and turned to the mother of his
"It's been a long journey," he said to her.
At a press conference held at the Legal Press Club in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki
district later that day, Motomura started out by saying: "Thank you for your
continued interest in the case for 13 years."
"The past 13 years were years of agony. I'm satisfied as a bereaved family
member, but in no way do I feel any joy," Motomura went on to say. "There are
no winners in the sentence."
The defendant-turned-death-row-inmate, now 30, had been 18 years old at the
time of the murders. Motomura said he ruminated over and over about whether the
perpetrator should be given another chance or pay for his transgressions with
his life. But Motomura seemed sure of the court decision after it was handed
"Japan has the death penalty, according to which an 18-year-old can be
sentenced to death. I see the sentence as one the judges agonized over without
getting caught up in the number of victims, and astutely assessing the
defendant," Motomura told reporters.
The Supreme Court pointed out in its sentence that the defendant's denial of
any intent to kill, in complete contrast to his statements in earlier court
proceedings, was an "absurd excuse."
Motomura, meanwhile, seemed at times torn, saying: "If the defendant had showed
remorse, he would not have been sentenced to death. It's a shame. The courts
decided not to give the defendant a chance to start fresh. I hope he reflects
over his crime, moves beyond it, and accepts the sentence."
The case led to improvements in the rights of victims' families, including
priority in obtaining the right to observe trial proceedings and permission to
make statements to the defendant in court. Meanwhile, Motomura also said he
resented being characterized by the public as a death penalty advocate after he
was shown displaying raw emotion in court and elsewhere.
"Time has been my most treasured confidant. It's allowed me to view the case
with level-headedness," Motomura told reporters. "I hope we don't put 3 lives
(of my wife, daughter, and the defendant) to waste, and use this as an
opportunity to attain a society in which we wouldn't have to use the death
At the end of the hour-long press conference, during which Motomura spoke to
reporters quietly, in a reserved tone, he revealed that he'd remarried in 2009,
and has been visiting the graves of his then wife and daughter with his new
wife. Of his new partner, Motomura said: "She's a wonderful person who can
support a weak person like me. I think it's important that I don't go through
life with my head down, hanging on to the case, and instead look forward and
live with a smile."
Meanwhile, Kenji Utsunomiya, president of the Japan Federation of Bar
Associations, released a comment expressing regret toward the court's decision.
"It fails to consider the unique characteristics of juvenile cases ... I once
again seek that the government undertake a drastic review toward the abolition
of the death penalty for defendants who are underage at the time crimes are
committed," he said.
(source: Mainichi Daily News)
Motomura: No 'winner' in crime / Supreme Court upholds death sentence in 1999
double murder case
With a capital punishment sentence having been finalized by the Supreme Court
in the 1999 murders of a woman and her infant daughter by a minor, the woman's
husband, said, "Social justice has at last been done," at a press conference on
Looking back on nearly 13 years of anguish after the killings of his wife,
Yayoi, 23, and the couple's 11-month-old daughter, Yuka, at their home in
Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in April 1999, Hiroshi Motomura, 35, said, "A
death sentence has been given, with which I felt satisfied, but not with any
sense of joy or happiness."
The top court rejected an appeal by a 30-year-old man who was given the death
penalty by a high court in 2008 for strangling Yayoi after breaking into their
apartment in the guise of a maintenance worker on April 14, 1999, in an attempt
to rape her. The man also strangled Yuka, their 11-month-old daughter, as she
kept crying. He then stole Yayoi's purse after committing necrophilia,
according to the Hiroshima High Court ruling in April 2008.
When the Supreme Court's first petty bench session began, Motomura was seated
in the gallery with a photo of Yayoi and Yuka on his lap.
Following the court decision, Motomura said to his wife's mother, "I imagine
you must have had truly harsh times for so long."
In a press conference at the court press club, Motomura began by saying he felt
neither pleasant nor happy to hear the decision, though he was satisfied with
the sentence against the defendant, Takayuki Otsuki, 30.
He went on to say he had been in agony for nearly 13 years over "whether it was
in the interest of justice, to give him [Otsuki] a chance of living or to have
him atone for what he did at the expense of his life."
"Given that Japan is a country governed by the rule of law, however, I came to
think if the value of human lives is so precious as to consider it inevitable
for a person to receive the death penalty if he murders because of a
Referring to what he thought about the defendant's state of mind, Motomura
said, "I think he should become increasingly aware of the depth of his offenses
as his own death is approaching."
"So I hope he can manage to tackle the days to come, however severe they might
be, and accept the punishment."
Recounting the days after the murders, Motomura said he had felt deep remorse,
thinking he should have been able to save his wife and daughter from such
The incident took place about 10 months after the Motomuras began their
marriage in his company's dormitory.
He said he could never forget his wife's smile when he left that morning with
Yuka crawling behind her.
"However, I was able do some small things as a way of atonement as I, by
joining with families of other heinous crimes, managed to help expand the
rights of crime victims."
At Yayoi and Yuka's graves on Tuesday, he said he would tell their souls about
the outcome and what he did for other victims, he said.
Motomura was one of the founding members of a nationwide organization, launched
in January 2000, for the expansion of the rights of victims of felonious
In response to movements staged by the organization and other anticrime and
human rights bodies, the Law for the Protection of Crime Victims was passed in
November 2000, empowering crime victims or their bereaved families to access
and make copies of criminal case court documents.
In April 2005, the Basic Law for the Rights of Crime Victims was passed,
guaranteeing victims' rights.
Another step in victims' rights protection was taken in December 2008, when a
system was put in place to allow victims to question the accused and say what
penalties they wanted for the accused in court.
Motomura remarried in 2009 and his new wife made it a rule to visit Yayoi and
Yuka's graves on the anniversary of their deaths to pray for their souls, he
"I was able to come to this point thanks to support from people around me," he
said, adding, "There is no winner in the court's decision."
"Once a criminal offense has taken place, all people involved are bound to
lose," Motomura noted. "I have been strongly hoping to see our tragedy serving
as an opportunity for many people to ponder the capital punishment system and
ways to lessen crime, as the lay judge system has now been launched," he said.
Defense counsel's protest
Otsuki's defense counsel issued a written protest against the ruling, arguing
the decision was "extremely unjust."
"However serious the results of this crime were, it is never justifiable to
impose the death penalty on a minor whose mind is not mature, as Otsuki was
barely 18 years old at the time of the crime," it said.
According to the defense lawyers, Otsuki has recently begun soul-searching and
expressing apologies over the crimes.
(source: Yomiuri Shimbun)
'Blasphemous' tweets condemn Saudi journalist
The world’s media isn’t paying a lot of attention to a Saudi Arabian journalist
facing death for blasphemy for his inconsequential musings on Twitter.
Toronto’s Farzana Hassan is one of the few writers who’s taken up the cause of
Hamzi Kashgiri, who was deported from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia even though the
two countries do not have an extradition treaty.
He was deported 3 hours before Malaysia’s High Court ruled he should not be
Those most incensed about Saudi Arabia wanting to execute this guy are
organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House,
FrontLine Defenders, and a group called Electric Frontier Foundation.
But these groups can be ignored — they’re always protesting. It’s “friendly”
governments that occasionally persuade the Saudis to rethink killing certain
people whom in our part of the world are considered innocent.
So what did this rascal Kashgiri do that so inflamed the Grand Mufti, the
religious police, Islamic extremists and Saudi King Abdullah?
Kashgiri put on his Twitter account an imaginary conversation with the Prophet
Muhammad, treating him as an equal and not a divinity. He admired Muhammad’s
rebellious spirit but wrote “I shall not pray for you.”
We are told that Saudi Muslims are enraged at Kashgiri’s impudence, or
apostasy, in three of his tweets, one of which says: “I shall not kiss your
hand, rather, I will shake it as equals do … I shall speak to you as a friend,
Informal, mildly irreverent but respectful. No demeaning of the Prophet.
When Kashgiri’s tweets appeared in the Saudi daily al-Bilad, reportedly King
Abdullah was furious and ordered that Kashgiri be arrested “for crossing red
lines and denigrating religious beliefs in God and His Prophet.”
The newspaper announced he’d been fired a month earlier — whew, get out of the
line of fire, eh!
Initially, Kashgiri said he was just practising his “human rights” and that
many in Saudi Arabia think like him (probably true, which explains the venom of
Since then, he’s apologized, deleted his Twitter account, and asked for
sanctuary in New Zealand. He was nailed en route in Malaysia, which is supposed
to be a “moderate” Islamic country.
One report says that within the first week of his fictional chat on Twitter
with Muhammad, 13,000 Saudis had signed a petition calling for his execution.
Most Islamic scholars (and certainly those in Saudi Arabia) are said to agree
that apostates must be executed, and that the law cannot be overturned since
Muhammad himself had ordered the penalty.
Apart from the scandal of putting this young man on trial, Malaysia’s behaviour
has been cowardly and odious.
It seems an international group called the Organization of Islamic Co-operation
(OIC) is leading the charge against Kashgiri, determined to punish any
criticism of Islamic religious practices, no matter how mild such criticisms
In its UN resolution, OIC changed the wording from “combating defamation of
religion” to “combating intolerance” — while practicing the essence of
UN Resolution 16/18 reads: “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and
stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence
against persons based on religion or belief.” None of which seems to apply to
Now that he’s back in Saudi Arabia, Kashgiri has vanished from view. An
unperson, with brave individuals like Farzana Hassan willing to risk extremist
retribution for defending him.
(source: Toronto Sun)
The Great Wait: India’s Death Row Prisons
At the end of this month, a young man named Suresh will mark an unspeakable
anniversary. 14 years ago, on Feb. 28,1998, his mother Jayshree was raped and
slaughtered by the man referred to by tabloids as “India’s Jack the Ripper.”
And while the killer, whose real name is Umesh Reddy, was sentenced to death,
it remains unclear as to when, if ever, the case will be resolved.
Mr. Reddy currently resides in Belgaum Central Prison, a spacious facility
filled with lush green grass, gray dungeon-like dwellings, and a theatrical
hangman’s pit intended for executions that one guard reported to me had not
been used “in well over 25 years.”
Rust has accrued along the metal beams of the gallows. Down below, inside the
stairwell in which inmate’s bodies are intended to fall, globs of rainwater,
leaves, and dead insects cluster against the mossy pavement. A fortress-like
encasement of giant, peeling walls topped with angry-looking barbed wire blocks
the outside world from the prisoners.
Make no mistake: Belgaum Central is a bleak and forbidding place.
Mr. Reddy’s cellmates are a collection of South India’s most fearsome
criminals. A serial rapist and killer in his own right, he regularly
fraternizes with a man who refers to himself as “Dr. Ibrahim” –the leading
plotter of the Bangalore bomb blasts, which destroyed Christian churches and
lives back in 2000.
When we met, Mr. Reddy asked if Ibrahim could act as his translator and
advisor. Another one of his friends (who prefers to remain nameless), is a
boy-faced little man who was once a member of the Dandulpalya Gang, a murderous
South Indian version of the Manson family. Their group was once known for,
among more brutal crimes like the slaughter of the elderly, and according to
local crime reporters, consuming donkey’s blood on the night of the full moon.
And despite the seeming volatility of such a social circle, the group walks
around the contained death-row facility unpinned and unshackled. Their
camaraderie seems to be one more based upon commiseration than on conspiracy.
“Every night I go to bed crying,” Mr. Reddy told me. “I hate this awful place.”
One could justly argue that Mr. Reddy, who ruined the lives of potentially
scores of innocent women during his fetishistic crime spree, deserves very much
to hate his surroundings. And despite the fact that he steadfastly denies his
crimes, it might be a fair assessment, if it didn’t seem that his surroundings
were more a symbol of an unintended institutional failure, or, at the very
least, the unspoken compromise of a tentative Indian justice system.
The appeals process for death row criminals here flows upwards from the local
courts all the way to desk of the President, or in some cases, the Governor of
the local state. The road to a final decision takes decades to reach. So the
hundreds of death row inmates in India can sometimes remain there, lingering
indefinitely, until a death by natural causes occurs.
Reena Mary George is a Ph.D fellow at the University of Vienna who, during her
research, also visited Belgaum Central Prison on behalf of a program called
“Empowerment of Human Rights.” Ms. George believes that this purgatorial
environment can breed close relationships among cellmates.
“The prisoners on death row with whom I have interacted have all been very
cordial towards each other. They have often told me [things like], ‘we are in a
situation where we do not know if we [will] live or die, we are away from our
families and society. Hence we never fight. We comfort and provide space and
respect,’” says Ms. George. Her observations also hint to the possibility that
something like the lawyerly relationship between Ibrahim and Umesh Reddy might
not be all that uncommon.
“[The prisoners] are united in their demanding of rights. Also, illiterate
prisoners are taught by [those who can read]. Again, they help one another by
writing letters or appeals for the ones who do not know how to read or write,”
Although there has been ample consideration for such tactics as lethal
injection, hanging is presently the only means by which Indian prisoners can
presently be put to death. Hangmen remain on government payroll but they are
seldom, if ever, called to work. Over the past two decades, only one execution
has been carried out in India.
A movement to abolish the death penalty has yet to form in any substantial
organizational sense here in India, but with 26/11 Pakistani attacker Ajmal
Kasab indefinitely awaiting the results of his own appeal, more attention has
been focused on the problematic system.
But for the likes of Suresh, who at age 6, walked into his house to find his
mother tied to the floor and choked with multi-colored saris, soaking in blood
from lacerating wounds suffered to the genital region, the wait for a final
resolution often feels excruciating. “[Reddy] might say he is sad, but he is a
liar,” Suresh, who only goes by one name, told me in an interview. “Don’t
believe anything he says.” Suresh, now living with foster parents, is a happy
20 year-old man with a positive attitude. When asked whether he wants to see
Reddy be hanged, however, the young man becomes stern and grim. He minces no
words. “I want him to die,” he told me.
The Supreme Court upheld Mr. Reddy’s conviction in March of last year. Now his
appeal sits with the President. How long it will remain there is anyone’s
guess. But without any substantial outcry for institutional reforms, the wait
for Suresh, and murderer of his mother, goes on.
(source: Michael Edison Hayden is an American journalist, playwright, and
screenwriter currently living in Mumbai; Wall Street Journal)
President commutes Jharkhand resident's death penalty to life
The President commuted the death sentence of Jharkhand resident Sushil Murmu to
life sentence on February 9. Murmu was convicted of killing a minor and his
mercy petition had been pending since 2004. There are 18 mercy pleas pending
before President Pratibha Patil including that of 2001 Parliament attack
convict Mohammed Afzal Guru, who is now eighth on the list.
The list was accessed by RTI activist Subhash Agarwal in response to an
application asking for details of the number of people whose mercy petition has
been disposed of and those pending before the President.
One of the oldest cases that have been pending before the President is that of
Haryana resident Dharam Pal, whose mercy petition was filed in 1999. He is
convicted of killing 5 people.
The President had last August rejected the mercy petition of assassins of
former PM Rajiv Gandhi. Earlier, last May, she had rejected the mercy plea of
Mahendra Nath Das alias Govinda Das. Das had severed the head of Harakanta Das
(68), secretary of the Guwahati Truck Drivers Association, in Guwahati in 1996.
He was sentenced to death by a session's court in 1997.
Another mercy plea rejected by the President was of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar,
who has been given the death penalty in a 1993 car bombing case in New Delhi.
The home ministry had submitted Afzal Guru's case to the President's
Secretariat for a decision on July 27, 2011, with the recommendation that the
clemency petition should be rejected.
Guru was convicted for conspiracy in the Parliament attack and the Supreme
Court upheld his death sentence in 2004. The sentence was scheduled to be
carried out on October 20, 2006. However, Guru's execution was stayed following
a mercy petition filed by his wife. He is on death row since then.
(source: The Times of India)
More information about the DeathPenalty