Jan. 20



EGYPT:

Egyptian Church spokesman argues against death penalty for Mubarak


A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt has argued against the imposition of the death penalty for former President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak, who was deposed last year, is being held responsible for the deaths of 850 people during the “Arab Spring” demonstrations of January 2011. But Father Rafik Greiche said that the Church “is against the death penalty for any individual.”

Mubarak’s lawyer has argued that the former Egyptian leader cannot be convicted for the massacres of January 28, since he had already ceded is power to the country’s military leaders and was not in a position to give the order to fire into the crowd.

(source: Cathoilc Culture)






INDIA:

State moves HC for death penalty to one of Katara’s killers


The Delhi High Court today issued notice to Sukhdev Pehalawan, the third person sentenced to life term in the Nitish Katara murder case, on a state’s plea seeking death penalty for him.

A bench of justices Gita Mittal and J R Midha sought Pehalwan’s response by February 1 on a petition by Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan seeking capital punishment for him in the case.

Citing Pehalwan’s conduct in the case, the prosecution, in its petition, said, “Pehalwan is not capable of being reformed or rehabilitated as it is evident from his conduct post-crime and the circumstances.”

According to the petition, after killing Katara, Pehalwan, in collusion with co-accused Vikas and Vishal Yadav, did not only burn the body but also tried to destroy the evidence.

“The trial court should have awarded maximum punishment to Pehalwan as he did not only kill the victim but had tried to destroy evidence after murder,” said the petition.

Pehalwan, an alleged henchman of former Rajya Sabha member D P Yadav’s son Vikas and nephew Vishal, was awarded life term by the trial court in July 12, last year for abducting and killing business executive Nitish Katara in collusion with the duo in February 2002.

While pronouncing the sentence, the trial court had rejected prosecution’s plea for death sentence to him, saying the case did not fall under the category of the rarest of rare crimes.

“The case of the appellant cannot be taken to fall in a category where murder was committed with a motive which evinced total depravity and meanness, for example, murder by hired assassin for money or reward,” the trial court had said.

The trial court had also rejected state’s arguments that the case could be treated as ‘honour killing’ and Pehalwan should be awarded death penalty as it said the victim was not related to the convict.

Pehalwan was present with the Yadavs in their car when they had abducted Nitish from a marriage function in Ghaziabad and killed him on the night of February 16, 2002.

His trial was separated from those of Vikas and Vishal as he had jumped bail and was declared a proclaimed absconder.

His trial started only after his arrest in 2005.

He was chargesheeted in April 2006 for murder, abduction and destruction of evidence.

The Yadavs did not approve of the affair of their sister Bharti Yadav with Nitish.

Vikas and Vishal were earlier awarded rigorous life imprisonment for their role in the murder of Nitish, a son of an IAS officer.

(source: The Hindu)






MALAYSIA:

Students face death penlty


2 Nigerian students were charged at the magistrate’s court here with possession of 714gm of cannabis.

Abu Bakar Gidato Umar, 23, and Eze John, 20, allegedly had 94 clear plastic packets containing the cannabis with them in a car at Persiaran Surian Damansara at 9.15pm on Dec 5 last year. No plea was recorded.

The offence under Section 39(B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

Abu Bakar’s lawyer Shahul Hameed Abdul Wahab requested for copies of the chemist’s report and charge sheet but DPP Siti Ruvinna Mohd Rawi said the report was not ready.

Magistrate Ahmad Solihin Abd Wahid set March 8 for mention of the case.

************************

Teenage son charged with 4 counts of murder and 1 attempted murder


The 44-year-old mother of the 17-year-old youth who is suspected of killing four persons in a family on last January 3 will become a key police witness in the case which rocked this town.

Sessions Court judge Indra Ayub released the mother under Section 118 of the Criminal Procedure Code upon the expiry of her remand yesterday.

She was released on a court bond of RM10,000 with one surety.

Ayub also ordered her to report herself to the Sibu Central police station once a month.

Meanwhile, the same court charged her teenage son with 4 counts of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code and 1 count of attempted murder under Section 307 of the Penal Code.

By virtue of Section 302 of the Penal Code, the suspect is facing the death penalty for murder and a maximum jail sentence of 20 years for attempted murder.

In the 1st count, the teenager was charged with killing 76-year-old Leong Nyuk Lan @ Leong Nyuk Lang using an iron hammer between 6am-7.30am on January 3 at a house at 1F, Lorong RTM13/B1.

In the 2nd, 3rd and 4th counts, he was charged with killing Ling Tong Hock, 36, David Ling Chei Qi, 10, and Amy Ling Zi Jiun, 7, also using the same iron hammer at the same house.

For the 5th count, he was charged with attempting to murder Kelvin Ling Chei You, 8, at about 7am on January 3 at the same house, and in the process, causing grievous injuries to Ling.

Ayub had fixed February 29 to hear the cases.

(source for both: The Star)






CHINA:

Death penalty in fraud crimes divides public


The death sentence verdict of a female billionaire, who cheated investors out of several hundred million yuan through illicit means of financing, has sparked heated public debate, with observers calling for a relaxation of limits on informal lending by authorities.

The Zhejiang Provincial Higher People's Court Wednesday upheld the death penalty for Wu Ying, the 31-year-old former owner of the Bense Holding Group.

Wu, born to a farmer's family, was the sixth-richest woman in the Chinese mainland in 2006, with total assets of 3.6 billion yuan ($569.99 million), according to the Hurun Report. She was arrested in 2007 for illegal fundraising and fraud.

In December 2009, she was sentenced to death by the Jinhua Intermediate People's Court for cheating investors.

Wu raised 770 million yuan by promising high returns to investors between May 2005 and February 2007, the intermediate court found. She still had 380 million yuan as well as a large amount of unpaid debt with creditors when the case was uncovered.

According to the media, in order to get a lenient sentence, Wu had accused 17 officials and bank executives during her detention, many of whom have been convicted.

In a ruling, the Zhejiang Higher People's Court said Wednesday that it rejected Wu's appeal as Wu "brought huge losses to the nation and people with her severe crimes, and should therefore be severely punished."

The wrongdoing of officials unmasked by Wu came about as results of her bribery, which cannot be viewed as a contribution to the discovery of these crimes, the court said, rejecting Wu's plea for leniency.

The death sentence is still subject to review by the country's Supreme People's Court. So far, relevant authorities have not released the complete list of officials exposed by Wu.

According to the Oriental Morning Post, Wu Hong, a law professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law, explained that China has a relatively tight control over finance, and the fraud case has brought society a lot of harm.

"Such fraud always involves a lot of people, and it is usually impossible to recover these losses," Wu Hong said.

Chen Tao, a lawyer with the Criminal Law Committee under the Beijing Lawyers Association, told the Global Times that there is a trend of local courts handing out harsh punishments to illegal fundraising offenders as a warning to others.

On Saturday, the Anyang Intermediate People's Court in Henan Province handed down a life sentence to 41-year-old Liu Hongfei, who raised more than 85 million yuan by promising high returns to lenders between 2005 and 2011.

However, many people called for leniency to be shown to Wu Ying.

Some microbloggers showed sympathy for her, saying that the crime she committed was not severe enough for a life sentence.

Chen shared a similar sentiment, citing that Wu Ying had turned in several other offenders, and the Supreme People's Court had issued a notice asking local courts to be cautious in deciding on the death penalty.

He also said that the capital sentence should be abolished for economic offences that pose no threat to personal safety.

"The law should protect people's basic rights which definitely include the right to life, and that right cannot be measured by any economic losses as long as the offence has not caused any casualties," Chen said, adding that it was also time to abolish the crime of illegal fundraising in the Criminal Law.

A commentary on sohu.com said many people had hoped that a pardon to Wu Ying's death sentence would signal the recognition of informal lending by authorities.

According to a survey by the China Oriental Culture Broadcast Institute (COCBI), which was carried out among 1,206 businesses during last autumn, 42.7 % admitted that they had used informal lending, with 55.6 % of those involved hailing from Zhejiang.

Bai Chengyu, secretary-general of the China Association of Microfinance, said that illegal fundraising became a prominent issue last year due to the government's tight control on credit to curb inflation.

"What's more, the China Business News commented that the flourishing of 'underground finance' came as a result of banks' preference to give loans to State-owned enterprises, thereby setting higher thresholds for private enterprises."

Bai said there is still insufficient government supervision over private financing despite its long existence.

In the coastal city of Wenzhou, nearly 100 local tycoons reportedly fled abroad to avoid repaying their debts, which had accumulated to more than 10 billion yuan in bank loans or shadow loans last year.

In Anyang, about 30,000 people gathered at the local train station on New Year's Day to protest against an insufficient crackdown on illegal fundraising, after an investment guarantee company reportedly disappeared with about 40 billion yuan collected from locals.

According to the COCBI survey, 73.6 % of respondents viewed informal lending positively, and 40.3 % believed it should be monitored by authorities.

(source: Global Times)

***************************

Woman's death sentence rouses public debate


The death sentence given an ex-millionaire businesswoman found guilty of fraudulent fundraising has provoked widespread discussions on capital punishment for illegal fundraising, as well as on private lending.

Wu Ying, 31, the former owner of Zhejiang-based Bense Holding Group, lost her appeal to the Zhejiang Provincial High People's Court on Wednesday, which upheld the verdict and death penalty of a local court in 2009.

The high court rejected Wu's appeal as she "brought huge losses to the nation and people with her serious crimes and should therefore be severely punished".

Wu was found to have illegally raised 770 million yuan ($122 million) by promising investors high returns between May 2005 and February 2007.

Of the money fraudulently pooled, 380 million yuan could not be returned and large amounts of other debts were unpaid, according to the court. Wu said she was not guilty at the 1st trial but admitted in the second that she had "illegally pooled public deposits", a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

However, the heaviest penalty for "fraudulent fundraising" is death, under the Criminal Law.

Zhang Yanfeng, Wu's defense lawyer, said that he and his colleagues were shocked when they heard the second verdict and that they will make every effort to plea for a lesser sentence while waiting for the necessary review by the Supreme People's Court in Beijing.

All death sentences in China require a final review by the top court before being carried out.

The crimes of "illegal pooling of public deposits" and "fraudulent fundraising" have similar definitions but divergent sentencing standards, said Wu Dong, a lawyer and partner of the M&A Law Firm in Shanghai.

On Thursday, many netizens were also calling for more lenient sentence for Wu. By 8:30 pm, about 64 % of 398,885 respondents to an online survey at ifeng.com considered the death penalty too harsh for Wu and named the overabundance of hot money and lack of investment channels as the main reason she committed the crime.

China repealed the death penalty for 13 non-violent economic crimes in its 8th Amendment to the Criminal Law, which took effect on May 1. But capital punishment remained the most severe penalty for fraudulent fundraising.

Keeping the death penalty for fraudulent fundraising could be a sign of authorities' determination to crack down on illicit private lending, which can affect many people and have a huge social impact, Wu Dong said.

He said the verdict in Wu's case might serve as a warning to people involved in private lending markets, but the measure might not prove effective in the long run.

"It is better to make clear policies and laws to legalize, regulate and guide private financing than suppressing it, because there is always a need for borrowing and investing outside banks or financial institutions," he said.

The verdict also sparked widespread controversy over private financing and underground lending in Zhejiang, a bustling coastal province flush with cash, which has also witnessed increasing crime related to private lending and borrowing in recent years.

In Jinhua, where Wu set up the business, cases of illegal pooling of public deposits surged from seven in 2008 to 34 in 2009, and the number of crimes of fraudulent fundraising cases jumped from one in 2008 to five in 2009, according to a Zhejiang University report on private financing in Zhejiang province.

At the same time, more small loan companies were set up as residents tried to avoid undocumented private lending in Jinhua and other cities in Zhejiang, according to the report.

In Wenzhou, private lending reached to about 110 billion yuan, according to a study by Wenzhou financial management authorities in September 2011.

Money lenders said they are paying close attention to Wu's case because the verdict may affect future trends in underground lending markets.

Hua Xiang, an underground money lender in Wenzhou, said she stopped lending money in November. "About 7 billion yuan was unpaid, because the borrowers either ran away or simply have no money," Hua said.

However, Hua said the severe punishment would not help lenders.

"The gone money is gone. Even if the borrowers are sentenced to death, I won't get it back," Hua said.

Tu Shanshan (not her real name), a businesswoman in Lishui, Zhejiang province, who used to borrow from underground lending markets, said Wu's case has deadlocked money borrowers.

"In the past, borrowing money was all about investment and business, but now if you fail to run the business well, you might be charged with cheating and get jailed or even sentenced to death," Tu said.

(source: China Daily)




PHILIPPINES:

Death for carnappers pushed


A MEASURE has been filed in the House of Representatives proposing the death penalty for carnapping and carjacking.

House Bill 5664, which is up for debate at the House Committee on Revision of Laws, seeks to amend Republic Act 6539 or the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972 to provide stiffer measures for the offense.

The bill’s explanatory note points out that the necessity for the state to put in place a law that will discourage criminal elements from doing the act, noting that for almost 40 years, carnapping in the country has not been considered as a non-bailable offense.

The police has noted that cases of carnapping result in physical injuries, rape, and even death of victims.

Criminals have taken advantage of the current state of our law, the bill’s author, House Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Jorge Banal, stated.

The bill cites Section 13 of Article III of the Constitution, which states that all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable, and the exception is in the case of those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, in invoking stiffer penalties for the crime.

It also proposes that any person who is found guilty of carnapping, irrespective of the value of the motor vehicle, shall be punished by imprisonment of at least 14 years when the carnapping and/ or carjacking is committed without violence against or intimidation of persons, or force upon things.

“We have seen how the current situation has emboldened criminal elements because they can easily post bail using the proceeds from their illegal activity and once out of jail, they simply continue with their modus operandi,” the bill’s note concluded.

(source: The Manila Standard)






IRAN:

A misogynous penalty for Sakineh Ashtiani


Iranian authorities are considering executing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by hanging rather than stoning, according to the latest reports on this mother of 2.

Her original sentence of death by stoning was lifted amid international condemnation, including from Canada, the European Union and other countries. The Vatican pleaded for clemency. Brazil offered asylum. This latest development has not raised much outrage. It should.

Ms. Ashtiani is serving 10 years after being convicted of helping to kill her husband. She was also convicted of having an “illicit relationship” with 2 men, a crime punishable by stoning, according to Islamic law. According to Amnesty International, she has received 99 lashings as part of her sentence.

In 2010, Laureen Harper, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, and Indigo CEO Heather Reisman wrote to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling for her release from prison. Their letter read: “As mothers, sisters and daughters, we are gravely concerned about the unfair, undue legal processes faced by women in Iran. Repugnant sentences, such as death by stoning, are routinely rendered against women in Iran.” Lawrence Cannon, the minister of foreign affairs at the time, also expressed concern over reports she was forced to confess on Iranian television.

Last month, a resolution adopted by 89 United Nations member states condemned stoning and the rise in death sentences for crimes “lacking a precise and explicit definition,” and Amnesty International released a report on the “dramatic rise” in death sentences for drug offences.

In Ms. Ashtiani’s case, though, the outcry has gone quiet. A Web site calling for her release, with a petition signed by Mrs. Harper and a host of celebrities such as Hugh Jackman, Sting and Yoko Ono has not been updated since 2010.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, has reportedly said stoning should be considered a punishment, not a form of execution, adding it is more lenient. Why? Because half of the victims survive.

The international community must keep up the pressure.

(source: Editorial, The Globe and Mail)

**************

Iran reissues death sentence for Canada resident: lawyer


Iran's Supreme Court has reinstated a death sentence against an Iranian resident of Canada who had been accused of running a pornographic website, a lawyer working on the case said Thursday.

The death sentence meted out to Saeed Malekpour was reinstated by the court, after it had reportedly been annulled in June, said Shadi Sadr, a lawyer with the advocacy group Justice for Iran, citing the accused's sister.

"I talked to his sister two days ago and she told me that according to one of the branches of the Supreme Court the death penalty was confirmed. It could be executed at any time from now on," Sadr said by phone from Britain.

Malekpour, a 36-year-old computer programmer, was sentenced to death in December 2010 after being found guilty of "designing and moderating adult content websites," "agitation against the regime," and "insulting the sanctity of Islam," according to his supporters.

The Canadian government protested the verdict, which the Supreme Court then reportedly annulled in June 2011.

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 porn sites.

A resident of Canada since 2004, Malekpour was arrested in Iran in 2008 while visiting his dying father.

The Canadian government and several organizations, including Amnesty International and the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran headed by Canadian lawmaker Irwin Cotler, called for Malekpour's immediate release.

"This is yet another example of the criminalization of innocence and the wanton executions that pass for 'judicial decision-making in Iran' but which have resulted in Iran having the highest execution rate per capita in the world," the parliamentary group said.

The court's decision comes as the regime is cracking down on bloggers and other Internet users, said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"By confirming Saeed Malekpour's death sentence after an unfair trial, the Iranian authorities are sending a message to Iranians not to freely express their views, or even to help others to do so, including on the internet," Harrison said.

(source: Agence France-Presse)

***************

Iranian Court Confirms Death Sentence on Programmer


Iran’s supreme court has confirmed the death sentence on a Iranian-born Canadian resident for his part in developing pornographic websites. Saeed Malekpour, 35, was arrested in Teheran on a visit. He is a permanent resident of Canada and was awaiting citizenship when he was arrested.

Toronto’s The Star reports:

An engineer and web designer, Malekpour was visiting his gravely ill father in Tehran when he was arrested in 2008 and charged with “insulting and desecrating Islam.” He was accused of creating a site Iran claims was used to post “pornographic” images.

According to The Guardian, Mr. Malekpour’s family say that he wrote photo-uploading software that was used by a porn website without his knowledge.

The Persian2English human rights website has a translation of the letter that purports to come from Mr. Malekpour which details the physical and psychological torture which led to him making filmed confessions. He says these were shown repeatedly on Iranian television, even at the same time as his father’s funeral.

He writes in the letter:

Some of the confessions they forced me to make were so ridiculous and far-fetched that they are not even possible.

For example, they asked me to falsely confess to purchasing software from the UK and then posting it on my website for sale. I was forced to add that when somebody visited my website, the software would be, without his/her knowledge, installed on their computer and would take control of their webcam, even when their webcam is turned off. Although I told them that what they were suggesting was impossible from a technological point of view, they responded that I should not concern myself with such things.

The Star suggests the case may be part of a bigger picture:

Iranians Vahid Asghari and Ahmad Reza Hashempour are also awaiting execution on Internet charges, as Tehran takes increasingly draconian measures to silence suspected dissidents ahead of a March election.

A Canadian citizen, Hossein Derakhshan, known as the “blogfather” for his part in introducing blogging to Iran, is serving a 20-year sentence on similar charges.

Meanwhile, The Guardian quotes Drewery Dyke, of Amnesty International:

“The death sentence recently upheld in the case of Saeed Malekpour extends the long, cold reach of execution in Iran. “He is alleged to have created ‘pornographic’ internet sites and [is accused of] ‘insulting the sanctity of Islam’, for which he was charged with ‘spreading corruption on earth’, a vaguely worded charge which attracted the death penalty in Iran.

“The use of vaguely worded charges is not new in Iran, but the allegation that these were carried out on the internet is. It is an unwelcome addition to the catalogue of ways in which Iran finds it can execute its own citizens.”

(source: Wall Street Journal)

*******************

Foreign Office Questions Spate Of Executions And Arrests Amid Rising Tensions


The British government has denounced the spate of recent executions and arrests in Iran, including the detention of a number of journalists over the past month, amid rising tensions between Tehran and London.

Foreign Office spokesman Alistair Burt said the journalists' arrests raised "serious questions about Iran's stated commitment to freedom of expression", adding that he was "disturbed" at the death penalties handed down to website developer Saeed Malekpour, blogger Vahid Asghari and website administrator Ahmad Reza Hashempour.

On Friday, the Iranian news network Press TV had its licence to broadcast in the United Kingdom revoked by communications watchdog Ofcom. The London-based channel, whose presenters include former MP George Galloway and Tony Blair's sister-in-law Lauren Booth, will go off the air on Friday.

In a Foreign Office statement, Burt called for an urgent review of all the execution and detention cases. "I am deeply concerned by a new wave of executions and arrests in Iran,” said Burt.

"There are reports that Iran has already executed around 50 people this year, some of them in grotesque public displays. This continues a shocking trend of excessive use of the death penalty that has been condemned by the United Nations.

"There has been a wave of arrests and persecution of researchers and journalists.

"Journalists Saeed Madani, Parastoo Dokouhaki, Marizeh Rassouli, Mohammad Soleymaninia, Sahameddin Bourghani, Fatemeh Kheradmand, Arash Sadeghi, Ehsan Houshmand and Hassan Fathi have all been detained in the last month.

"This raises further, serious questions about Iran's stated commitment to freedom of expression."

Burt added: "I was also disturbed to see reports of a lack of due process in the harsh sentencing to death of three Iranians, Saeed Malekpour, Ahmadreza Hashempour and Vahid Asghari on charges of 'spreading corruption on earth'.

"Civil society organisations have raised serious concerns over the fairness, transparency and the speed of the court proceedings. Such actions are contrary to Iran's international human rights obligations and raise further questions about the inadequate judicial standards.

"I call on Iran to review all these cases urgently," he said.

Already tense diplomatic relations between the 2 countries broke down in November after Iran voted to downgrade the UK’s diplomatic status and expel the British Ambassador.

The move followed the imposition of fresh sanctions on Iranian banks by George Osborne, following the publication of the International Atomic Energy report that highlighted Iran’s continued ambition to create nuclear weaponry.

Following strident anti-British rhetoric in the Iranian parliament, the British embassy in Tehran was stormed by dozens of Iranian students chanting "death to England".

The group tore down the Union Flag and threw documents from the windows.

In recent weeks, relations have worsened, with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond warning Tehran that any move to close the Straits of Hormuz could lead to military action by the Royal Navy.

(source: Huffington Post)






SAUDI ARABIA/INDONESIA:

2 migrant workers spared death penalty


2 Indonesian migrant workers spared the death penalty in Saudi Arabia after being pardoned by the country's king arrived in Jakarta Thursday, officials said.

The 2 women arrived Thursday at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after receiving the pardon from King Abdullah, the Ankara news agency reported.

Neneng Sunengsih binti Mamih Ujan, a native of Sukabumi, West Java, was arrested by Al Jouf Police in May 2011 for allegedly killing the baby daughter of her employer.

Naseer Al Dandani, a Saudi lawyer appointed by the Indonesian embassy in Riyadh, helped free Neneng by convincing judges she shouldn't be blamed for the death because she was not competent to take care of the seriously ill baby. Ankara said no strong evidence proved Neneng killed the baby, whose family did not allow an autopsy.

The other migrant worker, Mesi binti Dama Idon, was sentenced to death by the Saqra Public Court in March after confessing she had used witchcraft against her employers. She retracted the confession later and said she had been pressured during a police interrogation.

After she appealed, with help from the Indonesian embassy in Riyadh, her sentence was reduced to 10 years in prison and 500 lashes. Mesi was released this month by an order from the king.

(source: UPI)
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