Oct. 17


Gazan accused of spying for Israel sentenced to death----Hamas-run court says 54-year-old man will be hanged for allegedly providing Jewish state with information since 1987

Courts in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip handed down 3 death sentences on Monday, including 1 for allegedly spying for Israel and 2 others for murder, authorities said.

In the 1st case, "the military court in Gaza decided upon death by hanging for the convict, 54, on charges on spying for the Israeli occupation," a court source said.

The court said the man had allegedly been linked to Israel since 1987 and had provided a large amount of information to the Jewish state since then.

The case was held behind closed doors and the defendant was referred to only by the initials E.A.

Another alleged spy was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Also on Monday 2 men from rival families were sentenced to death after tit-for-tat killings in 2013 and 2015 respectively, the public prosecutor said.

A series of death sentences have been handed down in recent weeks despite calls on Hamas from the European Union and rights groups to halt the practice.

The authorities in Gaza executed 3 men behind closed doors in May, the first time the death penalty had been carried out since 2014, drawing condemnation from the United Nations.

In Gaza, accusations of spying for the Jewish state are often brutally punished. During the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, 18 alleged collaborators were shot dead in public by Hamas forces.

(source: The Times of Israel)


The crimes of serial killer and rapist Umesh Reddy, a man set to go to the gallows ---- The Karnataka High Court, while confirming the death sentence, called Umesh a "devil"

Lodged in Belagavi's Hindalga jail, notorious rapist and serial killer Umesh Reddy awaits a death warrant that is likely to be issued for his execution. He has spent over 18 years in jail, with some stints outside when he managed to escape custody.

Umesh was first arrested on March 2, 1998, in connection with the murder of a Bengaluru woman. He made news again in 2007, when the VII Fast Track Court, Bangalore, sentenced him to death for the rape and murder of the 37-year-old Bengaluru woman in front of her son. His death sentence was confirmed by the Karnataka High Court in October 2007 and the Supreme Court in February 2011.

The Karnataka High Court, while confirming the death sentence, called Umesh a "devil". Justice SR Banurmath, who was the 3rd judge appointed to rule on Umesh's sentence, said: "It is evident that even after punishments in cases of robbery, dacoity and rape, he has not reformed; no reformation can be expected from such a habitual offender and pervert criminal."

The judge added: "I do not understand why such a devil in man's garb should be maintained by society by locking him up in jail for life. It is a known fact that whenever there is an opportunity, he has a tendency to run away from custody and commit new, heinous crimes.

Belagavi's Central Prison in Hindalga, is the only prison in Karnataka which has gallows. The last execution was carried out in 1983.

In the trial court, the prosecution argued that Umesh raped and murdered the woman before robbing her. The prosecution also called him a serial rapist and psychopathic killer.

Umesh was born as Umesh BA in Basappa Malige village in Chitradurga district in 1969. Much of his story beyond this point, is a sensational or perhaps sensationalised one.

By some accounts, he was posted in Jammu and Kashmir while in the CRPF, where he is said to have attempted to rape a commandant's daughter. He was arrested, but managed to escape and return to Chitradurga.

The Hindu however, reports that Umesh was first employed as a police constable and was recruited in the District Armed Reserve (DAR) in 1996. In November-December that year, Umesh was accused of attempting to rape a girl in Chitradurga district.

Media reports vary in the number of accusations against him. In May 2002, Umesh faced 19 cases in Chitradurga, Ballari, Bengaluru, Vadodara, and Kunigal. In 2009, The Hindu reported that Umesh faced seven cases in Bengaluru alone. According to a Deccan Herald report from 2009, Umesh faced 25 cases, of which he had been acquitted in 10 and convicted in 9, but the offences of which he was convicted are not known.

Umesh is said to have murdered a string of women after raping them. He would then make off with their valuables.

In 2002, when the police arrested him after he gave them the slip on his way from Ballari to Bengaluru, the media began to claim that he was a transvestite or a cross-dresser.

A Kannada film called Khatarnak was made based on details of Umesh's life in 2013. However, its contents have been fictionalised.

In May 2012, when Umesh filed mercy petitions with the Karnataka government, the media reported that he had faced 15 rape cases. The Cabinet, headed by the then chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda, rejected his mercy plea.

In February 2012, Umesh's mother Gowramma filed a clemency petition with the President, which was rejected in May 2013. In her petition, she said that her son was the sole breadwinner of her family and that his brother was unwell. She also said that her son was "innocent" and that he had been picked up because the police could not arrest the real culprits.

Simultaneously, he approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of its own decision to confirm the death sentence awarded to him. This has now been rejected by the Supreme Court. Jail Superintendent at Hindalga TP Shesha told The News Minute that they had received a copy of the SC order, but the trial court had not, and that they were awaiting the issuance of the death warrant.

Director of the Centre on Death Penalty at the National Law School Delhi, Anup Surendranath, told The News Minute that the law mandated that the defence lawyer be present when a trial court issues the death warrant.

Anup said that Umesh could still challenge the death sentence awarded to him on technical grounds. He said that Umesh could challenge the rejection of his mercy petition by the President, first in the Karnataka High Court and if that failed, in the Supreme Court.

But this could be done if relevant material had not been presented to the President, or certain other grounds such as the mental health of the prisoner. He explained that in the Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India, 2 prisoners' death sentences had been commuted to life as they were found to be unsound of mind.

Anup said that the death penalty was often "misunderstood" as a means to punish the "rarest of rare" crimes on the basis of brutality. "It is the state's burden to show that a convict is beyond reformation, and that alternatives such as life imprisonment are foreclosed," Anup said. He explained that the government can, by invoking certain sections of the CrPC, remit the sentence of a convict. But in December 2015, the courts interpreted the law to hold that instead of the death penalty, they would be asked to undergo life sentence, disallowing the state from invoking powers of remission.

(source: The News Minute)


China refutes rumors of organ harvesting

Chinese health officials on Monday vowed to fight corruption in the organ donation system, pledging zero tolerance toward non-voluntary organ transplants and denying that organ harvesting continues from executed prisoners.

On Monday, organ transplant experts from the WTO, International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP) and The Transplantation Society (TTS) gathered in Beijing to attend the 2016 China International Organ Donation Conference, the first such international meeting held on the Chinese mainland.

"All the organs transplanted after 2015 are from voluntary donors and we have a zero tolerance toward violations," Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, said at a press conference.

Huang blasted allegations that the number of organ transplants far surpassed the amount of organs donated as lacking evidence, saying that China performed around 8 % of the world's organ transplant surgeries, and also consumed 8 % of world's post-operative medications, which are all produced by foreign companies and are traceable.

China banned the use of executed prisoners' organs in January 2015, making voluntary donations the only legitimate channel.

However, the rumor that China is still using organs from dead prisoners and harvesting from living people has not died down.

CNN reported in June that China was still engaged in harvesting organs from prisoners, and that people were even being murdered for their organs, citing a report.

The law and regulations cannot stop all the violations and corruption, such as trading in organs, but the Chinese government has shown great resolution to fight against corruption in organ donation and will not tolerate violations, Huang said.

The rumors only make us stronger and more dedicated to making the system more open, fair, transparent and trustworthy, Huang said.

The Chinese government's resolve to reform the organ transplant industry was highly praised by many organ transplant experts, including Kimberly Young, former president of the ISODP, who said after the conference that she was highly impressed by the huge change.

"None of us would be here today if we did not trust that everything is continuing to be done to support this transparent and ethical process," Young told the Global Times.

"When we first received training [as a surgeon], we were encouraged not to interact with China because there were concerns about unethical practices going on, but what I have seen over the last 10 years is gradual engagement between the transplantation society and those leaders within China who are interested in changes," said Nancy L. Ascher, president of The Transplantation Society, at the conference.

Innovative procedures

The Chinese government puts great attention on the country's organ donation and transplant procedures, which directly concerns the lives of patients and also justice in society, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said in a speech delivered at the conference.

China processed 2,950 organ donations in the first nine months of this year, with a 50 % increase year-on-year, the Xinhua News Agency quoted figures released by the National Health and Family Planning Commission as saying on Sunday.

At present, the annual average number of organ donations in China ranks 1st in Asia and 3rd in the world, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

WHO director general Margaret Chan on Monday praised China's "green channel" for organ transport, which sufficiently reduced delivery times for organs, as an innovative move from the country's health, police and transport system.

In May, a 31-year-old patient at a hospital in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, received a donated heart within 3 hours, 1/2 the time before the green channel went into operation.

The Chinese government started to pilot changes to the organ donation system in 2010, and criminalized the unauthorized trading of organs in 2011. In severe cases of violation, the death penalty could apply.

Moreover, a new system for organ management and distribution was launched in 2013 to better regulate donations.

Since 2007, China has apprehended 32 intermediaries involved in the organ trade, arrested 158 criminal suspects, investigated 17 medical institutions and closed 13 underground operation theaters.

(source: Global Times)


Prayers Needed Urgently For Christians Facing Death Penalty In Sudan

The 4 Christians in Sudan who are facing the death penalty were due back in court on Khartoum today.

Release International asked for Christians worldwide to pray for Pastors Hassan Abduraheem and Kowa Shamaal, Abdulmonem Abdumawla and the Czech citizen Petr Jasek.

The 4 men have been charged with 7 crimes, including funding rebel movements in areas such as Darfur and South Kordofan. The 2 charges that could lead to their execution are "waging war against the state" and spying.

Human rights groups are increasingly concerned about the growing persecution faced by Christians in Sudan.

World Watch Monitor reports that a crackdown on religious freedom is creating space for radical extremist groups to flourish.

The case was raised in the European Parliament last week when several hundred MEPs signed a resolution protesting the treatment of the men and highlighting their plight.

The resolution states that "the Sudanese authorities impose severe restrictions on freedom of religion; whereas threats against church leaders and the intimidation of Christian communities have continued at an accelerated pace over the past years; whereas Czech Christian aid worker Petr Ja???ek, Sudanese pastors Hassan Abduraheem Kodi Taour, Kuwa Shamal and Darfuri graduate student Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla have been detained for nine months already by the NISS [National Intelligence Security Services] and are facing trial on charges of highlighting alleged Christian suffering in war-ravaged areas of Sudan; whereas in recent years there has been an increase in trials on charges of apostasy and subsequent death sentences".

It calls on the African Union and the Sudanese Government to abolish the death penalty and reaffirm that freedom of religion, conscience or belief is a universal human right that needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone; and demands that the Sudanese Government repeal any legal provisions that penalise or discriminate against individuals for their religious beliefs, especially in the case of apostasy.

It also "expresses its concern with regard to the increased crackdown by the NISS on citizens who are civil society activists and calls on Sudan to release detainees immediately and unconditionally".

Last month, the former Bishop of Kadugli Diocese in South Kordofan said the government of Sudan was "not interested in the Christian religion". Andudu Adam Elnail said, "There is no freedom for us, we cannot build churches. We are treated as 2nd-class citizens."

Sudan, where Christians make up 1 in 20 of the population, is ranked at number 8 on the Open Doors' 2016 World Watch List of countries that have the worst record for Christian persecution.

(source: christiantoday.com)

A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu

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