Posts Tagged ‘death penalty’

Bangladesh considers death penalty in careless driving death cases

August 6, 2018

Bangladesh’s cabinet on Monday will consider capital punishment for traffic accident deaths, a law ministry official said, as thousands of students held protests for a ninth day over the deaths of two teenagers by a speeding bus in Dhaka.

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Bangladesh we want justice protest

Tens of thousands of angry school and colleges students have been demanding changes to Bangladesh’s transport laws, paralyzing the crowded capital of 18 million, after the two teenagers were killed when a privately operated bus ran over a group of students on July 29.

“In this amendment it has been proposed to award the highest level of punishment if it is killing by an accident,” said the law ministry official, who has been briefed on the matter but declined to be named ahead of a decision.

The current punishment is a maximum jail term of three years. Using the death penalty for road accidents is rare anywhere in the world. Bangladesh’s transport authority listed punishments given in different countries that ranged from 14 years in the U.K. in extreme cases to two years in India. bit.ly/2ObIBlC

Sheikh Shafi, a student of a polytechnic institute in Dhaka who lost his brother in a road accident in 2015, said one of the problems was that bus drivers are not paid fixed monthly salaries instead only earn commissions based on the number of passengers, forcing them to work long hours.

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“Our demand is that the owners must appoint them and they will work a maximum of 10 hours. The commission based system must be eliminated,” said Shafi, who was injured while protesting on Saturday.

Amid the ongoing protests, an official vehicle carrying the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh was attacked by a group of armed men on Sunday, some on motorcycles, the embassy said in a statement. There were no injuries but two vehicles were damaged.

The embassy has condemned the “brutal attacks and violence” against the students protesters by security forces, a charge the government denies.

Police said they did not have an immediate explanation as to why the U.S. ambassador came under attack.

Reporting by Serajul Quadir and Ruma Paul; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Michael Perry

Reuters

See also (Includes video):

Bangladesh police fire tear gas to disperse students protesting against road deaths

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-06/bangladesh-police-fire-tear-gas-to-disperse-students-protesting/10077978

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Iran’s Use of Death Penalty During Economic Crisis “Direct Breach of International Law,” Amnesty International says

August 1, 2018

Iran’s application of the death penalty to individuals arrested during the country’s economic crisis would be in “direct breach of international law,” the world’s leading human-rights organization has said.

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At least 29 people have been arrested for “economic disruption,” Iranian officials announced last weekend, with many facing charges that carry the death penalty.

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Amnesty International on Wednesday expressed “alarm” over the arrests, saying that the application of the death penalty for non-violent crimes would be “in direct breach of international law.”

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The plunging value of the Iranian currency and worsening economic situation has prompted a string of public protests this year. In an apparent attempt to be seen to be tackling the crisis, officials announced dozens of arrests and blamed unnamed “enemies” for the rial’s decline.

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“Amnesty International is alarmed at the judiciary’s announcement that it has charged individuals arrested in relation to the country’s economy and currency crisis with ‘corruption on earth’ (efsad-e fel arz), which incurs the death penalty,” an Amnesty spokesperson told Arab News.

NCRI-FAC

@iran_policy

, , Agust 1, 2018. The people rallied to protest against the Iranian regime’s corruption and the declining economic situation for the second consecutive day on Wednesday.

“This would be in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the ‘most serious crimes’ — those involving intentional killing. Amnesty International’s research has shown that basic fair trial guarantees are absent in death penalty cases in Iran.”

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The statement follows warnings from other campaign groups over the human-rights situation in Iran.

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“In recent weeks and months we’ve had many protests,” .Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesman for the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, told Arab News on Tuesday.

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“Human rights are suffering … and every day they suffer more. Iran is among the biggest violators of human rights in the world today.”

 

BBC NEWS فارسی

@bbcpersian

حضور پلیس ضد شورش در منطقه شاپور جدید اصفهان
گروهی از کسبه و رانندگان شاپور جدید در “اعتراض به گرانی و بیکاری” تجمع کرده‌اند.

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said that the arrests connected to the economic crisis amounted to a PR exercise by the Iranian government.

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“The arrests by the regime are mostly cosmetic actions aimed at projecting that the Islamic Republic is taking actions to address corruption and address people’s grievances,” he said.

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“The regime is also trying to point (the) finger at some individuals rather than on the systematic financial corruption within the political establishment.”

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Amid widespread public anger, demonstrations spread to the historic city of Isfahan on Tuesday, with protesters demanding an end to the Iranian regime’s costly interference in the affairs of neighboring countries in the region.

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Video footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting: “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my soul is Iran’s redemption.” The slogan refers to Tehran’s military adventures in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, at the expense of the domestic economy.

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“The protests in Isfahan are significant because they highlight people’s ongoing and growing outrage and frustration with the theocratic establishment, as the economy is in shambles,” said Rafizadeh. “Despite the regime’s crackdown, people continue to take to streets as they can’t make ends meet.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1349536/middle-east

 

Japan executes six more cult members of deadly sarin attack

July 26, 2018

Japan executed six more members of the doomsday cult group Aum Shinrikyo on Thursday that perpetrated the deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, public broadcaster NHK said.

FILE - In this undated file photo, cult guru Shoko Asahara, left, of Aum Shinrikyo walks with Yoshihiro Inoue, then a close aid, in Tokyo. Japanese me

FILE – In this undated file photo, cult guru Shoko Asahara, left, of Aum Shinrikyo walks with Yoshihiro Inoue, then a close aid, in Tokyo. Asahara, who has been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing and other crimes, has been executed. He was 63.

All 13 members of the cult that were on death row have now been executed, after Chizuo Matsumoto, the cult’s former leader who went by the name Shoko Asahara, and six other members of the group were hanged on July 6.

The attack killed 13 people and injured at least 5,800 people, shattering the nation’s myth of public safety.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa will hold a news conference at 11:05 a.m. Japan time (0205 GMT).

The Aum Shinrikyo, or Aum Supreme Truth cult, which mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings, staged a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on subway trains during rush hour in March 1995. Sarin, a nerve gas, was originally developed by the Nazis.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko

Reuters

Britain would not oppose death penalty for Islamic State suspects

July 23, 2018

Britain’s interior minister has suggested the UK will not block a death sentence on two captured IS fighters dubbed “The Beatles” if they are tried in the US. The UK usually calls for protection of its citizens.

    
Islamic State propaganda photo (picture-alliance/Zuma Press)

Britain will not seek the usual assurances that its citizens facing trial in the United States do not receive the death penalty in the case of suspected “Islamic State” (IS) fighters Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, according to a report in a British newspaper published on Monday.

Kotey and Elsheikh are suspected of being members of a four-man IS gang dubbed “The Beatles,” which was notorious for videotaping its beheadings of high-profile Western captives. The two men were captured in Syria by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January and are still being held by the group. Britain and the United States have discussed how and where they should face justice.

Read more: Syrian Kurdish forces capture two British ‘IS’ militants — US officials

According to a leaked letter written by Home Secretary Sajid Javid to the US attorney general, excerpts of which were published in the Telegraph, the UK wants “these individuals to face justice in the most appropriate jurisdiction which maximises our collective chances of a successful prosecution.”

Javid appeared to waive Britain’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty in order to allow the two suspects face trial in the United States.

“I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought,” he wrote in the letter last month.

However, he added that the decision did “not reflect a change in our policy on assistance in US death penalty cases generally.”

Read more: ‘Islamic State’ claims beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto

‘Higher profile’ suspects

In the transcript published by the newspaper, Javid said Britain considered the two suspects distinct from the “broader strategic issue of detained foreign terrorist fighters” for three reasons:

  • “Firstly, there is intelligence implicating these two individuals in the kidnap and murder of a number of individuals, including three American and two British citizens.”
  • “Secondly, these individuals have a significantly higher profile than other detainees in Syria due to their crimes and will be held up as an example of how we treat and deal with alleged ISIS [an alternative acronym for IS] fighters.”
  • “Thirdly, we need to deliver justice for the victims’ relatives, who have been vocal in their demands that both detainees face the rest of their lives in prison following a fair and transparent trial.”

Fearing a precedent

Prime Minister Theresa May echoed Javid’s wishes for a successful proscecution.

May’s spokeswoman said, “We are continuing to engage with the US government on this issue and our priority is to make sure that these men face criminal prosecution.” She acknowledged Britian’s long-held opposition to the death penalty.

Human rights group Amnesty International criticized the apparent wavering of Britain’s stance in this case, tweeting that UK opposition to the death penalty should not be compromised even in view of the “appalling” nature of the two men’s alleged crimes.

Amnesty UK

@AmnestyUK

‘While the alleged crimes of Alexanda Kotey and Shafee El-Sheikh are appalling, the UK’s principled opposition to the cruelty of the isn’t something it should compromise.’ http://amn.st/6014DSJ4s 

Read more: Israeli leaders back death penalty for ‘terrorists’

Beheadings

The most notorious member of the cell — dubbed “The Beatles” on account of their British accents — was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages. Emwazi is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.

Death penalty

The mother of James Foley told BBC radio she did not want the suspects to be executed if found guilty, because it “would just make them martyrs in their twisted ideology.”   Amnesty International’s Allan Hogarth said the case “seriously jeopardizes the UK’s position as a strong advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.”

Britain’s defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, said earlier this year that he did not want the two suspects to be returned to the UK because “they are no longer part of Britain.”

kw, tj (Reuters, DPA)

Pope washes feet of 12 prisoners on Holy Thursday — There is no good reason to kill your fellow man — We are here to love each other

March 30, 2018

 

By washing feet outside the Vatican, Pope Francis continued in a Holy Thursday tradition he started five years ago

Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve inmates in a Rome prison on Thursday, telling them that jail sentences must be “open to hope” and condemning the death penalty as “not Christian or human”.

The 81-year-old Argentinian pontiff continued in a Holy Thursday tradition he started five years ago of taking the washing of the feet ritual away from the Vatican and out to the margins of society, this time to the Regina Coeli prison.

Celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday, the first of the Easter Triduum services, the Pope said that Jesus’ decision to wash his disciples feet showed that leadership is service, and lamented that Christ’s example was ignored by so many in positions of power.

“Those who lead must serve,” Francis said during his homily. “If so many kings, emperors, heads of state had understood this teaching of Jesus and done this instead of giving orders to be cruel, to kill people, how many wars would not have happened!”

His central message for the prisoners was not to give up hope; that however bad their situation, there is the possibility of forgiveness; and that even though society has discarded them, Jesus tells them: “You are important to me.”

Explaining that Jesus “takes a risk on each of us” the Pope explained: “Know this: Jesus is called Jesus, he is not called Pontius Pilate,” in reference to the Roman prefect who sentenced Christ to death but first “washes his hands” of the matter. “Jesus can not wash his hands”, the Pope said. “He only knows how to risk.”

After the homily, the Pope got on his knees to wash the feet of twelve male prisoners, including two Muslims and a Buddhist. He has in the past washed the feet of non-Christians; he has also washed the feet of women and changed the liturgical rules to allow the latter to participate in the ritual.

“I am a sinner but come as Christ’s ambassador,” the Pope told the prisoners. “When I wash your feet, remember that Jesus never abandons you and he never tires of forgiving you.”

Pope Maundy Thursday Mass prison

Later, in off the cuff remarks at the end of Mass, the Pope said that every prison sentence must be “open to hope”, otherwise it is not human, and for inmates to be able to return to society. And he once again condemned the death penalty, something he has done repeatedly throughout his pontificate.

Saying that he would be having a cataract operation next year to improve his eyesight, Francis added it was important to have a “cataract operation on our souls” in order to “renew our gaze”.

The Regina Coeli is Rome’s oldest and best known prison, just a stone’s throw from the Vatican and housing 900 male inmates, the majority of whom are foreigners. Originally built in the 17th century as a convent it was converted into a prison in the 19th century. Other Popes have paid visits there before including a famous one by John XXIII on Boxing Day 1958 when he told them: “You could not leave to see me, so I have come to see you.”

Throughout his pontificate – and also when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires –  Francis has paid special attention to prisoners, often visiting detention centres and spending Sunday afternoons speaking to inmates.

On Thursday, during the sign of peace, he urged those present to use it as a moment for reconciliation and to think of “those who do not love us” and the people “we would like to take revenge on”.

Pic 1: Pope Francis kisses the foot of an inmate during Holy Thursday Mass March 29 at Regina Coeli prison in Rome. The pope celebrated Mass and washed the feet of 12 inmates at the prison. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) 

See also:

Pope, in Holy Thursday prison visit, says death penalty not Christian

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-religion-easter-pope-holythursday/pope-in-holy-thursday-prison-visit-says-death-penalty-not-christian-idUSKBN1H52Q0

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Trump to unveil opioid plan that will seek death penalty for drug dealers: White House

March 19, 2018

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) – US President Donald Trump will unveil a plan on Monday (March 19) to combat the opioid addiction crisis that includes seeking the death penalty for drug dealers and urges Congress to toughen sentencing laws for drug traffickers, White House officials said on Sunday.

The White House plan will also seek to cut opioid prescriptions by a third over the next three years, officials said in a news briefing.

Trump will outline his proposals at an event in New Hampshire, which has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

“The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it’s appropriate under current law,” said Andrew Bremberg, director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, in the briefing detailing the plan.

The White House did not offer any specific examples of when it would be appropriate to seek the death penalty for drug dealers and referred further questions to the Justice Department.

The White House also floated several other initiatives to combat opioid overdoses that killed more than 40,000 people in the US in 2016 – five times higher than the rate in 1999.

Trump has talked in the past about his desire to impose capital punishment for drug dealers, arguing that some are responsible for hundreds of deaths.

It’s unclear if Trump’s directive will actually be implemented, as even routine death penalty judgments in murder cases often face years of litigation.

“I don’t think we should play games,” Trump said earlier this month during a political rally in Pennsylvania.

“These people are killing our kids and they’re killing our families, and we have to do something.”

Also included in the initiative: tougher criminal penalties for trafficking in fentanyl, a frequently-abused pain medication; new public outreach efforts to deter drug use; and additional restrictions on federal funding for opioid treatments.

Florida, A Big Death-Penalty State, Weighs What to Do About School Shooting

February 21, 2018

Public defender says Nikolas Cruz is prepared to plead guilty if prosecutors agree to not seek death penalty

 
Since 1998, there have been more than a dozen shootings at kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools that resulted in multiple deaths. These are some of the victims.
The Wall Street Journal

Defense lawyers seeking to spare Nikolas Cruz execution for last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., could face a high hurdle: the state’s historic embrace of the death penalty, which has led to the second-largest death row in the U.S.

Howard Finkelstein, the Broward County public defender whose office is representing Mr. Cruz, said the 19-year-old suspect, who is charged with killing 17 people, was prepared to plead guilty if prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty and settled for a life sentence without possibility of parole. That would avoid years of trial and appeals that could be distressing for those who lost loved ones, he said.

“If it will serve the community and victims’ families to put it all behind them, to try to pick up the pieces of their lives that have been destroyed, then there is that possibility,” Mr. Finkelstein said.

State Attorney Michael Satz, whose office is handling the prosecution, said in a news release over the weekend that it would announce its position “at the appropriate time.” But he noted that “this certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for.”

Gov. Rick Scott’s office, in an email response to questions regarding Mr. Cruz’s case, said the state attorney “has been clear that this case would warrant the death penalty,” and “we want to ensure that this individual is held fully accountable and that justice is swiftly served for victims and families.”

Though the number of death penalties imposed nationally has plummeted in the past two decades and polling shows public sentiment turning against execution, Florida continues to apply it actively. The state has 348 inmates on death row, second only to California, and has executed 95 people since 1976, behind Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Mr. Scott, a Republican, engaged in a high-profile battle with Aramis Ayala, the Democratic state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, last year after she announced she wouldn’t seek the death penalty in any of her office’s cases. She criticized the death-penalty system as inconsistent and said it subjected victims’ families to prolonged appeals.

Mr. Scott responded by transferring more than two dozen of her cases to another state attorney, prompting her to file a lawsuit challenging his authority to do so. After the Florida Supreme Court ruled against her in August, she agreed to restore the death penalty as an option and formed a review panel to evaluate whether it should apply to first-degree murder cases in her district.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, said in a recent TV interview that while he has broad concerns about the death penalty and whether defendants get equal representation, “in this particular case, it’d be hard to argue against the death penalty.”

Still, polling data shows that public sentiment in Florida is shifting, consistent with the national trend. A 2016 survey by Craig Haney, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz found that given the choice among sentencing options for a person convicted of murder, 57% of Floridians chose life without parole, while 43% chose the death penalty.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School arrested for killing at least 17 students, has admitted to being the gunman, according to court records. We look back over the events that unfolded during the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012. Photo: Zuma Press

“It used to be that how you voted on the death penalty could determine your future as a legislator,” said Stephen Harper, a visiting law professor at Florida International University who runs a death-penalty clinic and has conducted his own polling. Now, “voters don’t care about it as much.”

It isn’t clear when Mr. Satz, the state attorney in Mr. Cruz’s case, will decide whether to pursue the death penalty. Mr. Finkelstein said he hoped to meet with the prosecutor’s office, but no date has been set. Mr. Cruz hasn’t been arraigned yet, nor has he entered a plea.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers on Tuesday began wrestling with what legislation they could craft to strengthen security for students, from boosting funding for school-safety measures to increasing appropriations for mental-health treatment. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to meet with lawmakers and state officials on Wednesday.

Write to Arian Campo-Flores at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/florida-a-big-death-penalty-state-weighs-what-to-do-about-school-shooting-1519209000

Shin Bet Warns Israel’s Ministers: Death Penalty for Terrorists Will Lead to Kidnappings of Jews Worldwide

January 3, 2018

Despite the warning, Netanyahu backed the bill in a preliminary Knesset vote: ‘A person who slaughters and laughs should be put to death’

Chaim Levinson Jan 03, 2018 5:12 PM
Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset, October 24, 2017.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset, October 24, 2017. Olivier Fitouss

UPDATE: Knesset gives preliminary backing to death penalty for terrorists bill

The Shin Bet security service has voiced its objections to the death penalty bill, which it suspects will trigger a wave of kidnappings of Jews around the world to use them in negotiations.

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman has shared his negative opinion of the bill with the inner security cabinet. The security service will be presenting its opinion to the cabinet when it convenes to discuss the bill, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would.

The bill received preliminary backing from the Knesset on Wednesday and still needs to pass three rounds of voting in order to become a law. Despite the warning, Netanyahu backed the bill and, in unusual remarks ahead of the vote, said that, “a person who slaughters and laughs should not spend his life behind bars but be put to death.”
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The Shin Bet is predicting abductions of Jews not only in Muslim countries, but in the West as well. It also has other objections to the bill. In 2011, when some – including Central Command General Avi Mizrahi – were advocating the death penalty for Amjad Awad for murders of five members of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, the Shin Bet objected and the idea fell through.

Ahead of the bill’s preliminary reading, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said in a private conversation that he is not bound by the cabinet’s position – and that is just one of many considerations. Mendelblit had also opposed the death penalty as chief military prosecutor, and his position has not changed.

Present military law allows the death penalty to be handed down for murder committed as part of a terror act, but it is conditional on the unanimous support of the sentence by the judges. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who sponsored the bill, proposes that an ordinary majority of judges should suffice to sentence a terrorist to death. The bill also bans leniency after a final death sentence has been handed down.

Chaim Levinson
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.832858

Egypt hangs five prisoners: officials

January 2, 2018

A policeman stands guard in front of Mar Mina church, in Helwan, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, where several people have been killed in a shootout outside the church. (AP/Amr Nabil)
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Cairo: Egyptian prison authorities executed on Tuesday five inmates who had been sentenced to death, four of them over a bombing that killed military cadets, security officials said.
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The hangings came days after the execution of 15 inmates convicted of attacking police and the military in the largest mass execution in Egypt in recent memory.
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Four of those executed on Tuesday had been sentenced to death by a military court over a 2015 the bombing at a stadium north of Cairo that killed three military cadets.
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The fifth had been sentenced to death over a criminal matter, the sources said without elaborating.
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The other four had been accused of having links with the Muslim Brotherhood movement of former president Muhammad Mursi whom the army toppled in 2013 following protests against his single year in office.
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On December 26, prison authorities hanged 15 inmates sentenced to death by a military court over attacks on the police and military in the Sinai Peninsula.
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Attacks by jihadists in the restive peninsula have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since Mursi’s overthrow.
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Courts have since sentenced hundreds of Islamists to death, although most have appealed the rulings and won retrials.

Chinese convicts executed after stadium trial (Not thrown to lions as previously reported)

December 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Rights groups say China executes more people than any other country, but Beijing does not give figures on the death penalty

BEIJING (AFP) – Thousands of spectators filled a stadium in China to watch 10 suspects be sentenced to death for crimes ranging from drug-dealing to homicide before they were taken away to be executed at the weekend.An online video of the rare public trial, held in southern Guangdong province on Saturday, showed the handcuffed suspects paraded around a track by uniformed police officers as onlookers watched from the sidelines.

The convicts also stood on a podium as their sentences were read over loudspeakers, while officials sat on a stage flanked by military guards.

Rights groups say China executes more people than any other country, but Beijing does not give figures on the death penalty, regarding the statistics as state secrets.

A public announcement last week from Lufeng City People’s Court had invited citizens to sit in on the “open-air stadium trial”, as it was dubbed by the state-run Global Times.

Beijing News, which circulated the trial video along with several other Chinese media outlets, criticised the court for making a spectacle of the sentences.

Ten of 12 suspects were handed the death penalty and taken away for immediate execution while curious locals, including many young people in school uniform, looked on.

“Places may hold public trials in order to intimidate criminals and raise society’s sense of security, but they should not violate the basic humanity of the law,” a Beijing News commentary said Monday.

The column noted that “from a legal standpoint, the death penalty should not be enacted immediately after the final ruling… the local court deliberately put together this scene for dramatic effect.”

According to Global Times, an open-air trial for drug trafficking was also held in Lufeng in 2015, with 10,000 people in the audience.

The city is one of the country’s largest producers of methamphetamine.

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