Month: September 2012

JAMAICA – STOP SEX ABUSE! Protestors want death penalty for rape

September 29, 2012

SCORES of Jamaicans, angered by the Monday’s gruesome attack and rape of five females, including an eight-year-old child, yesterday protested across the island and called for the death penalty for criminals who rape and abuse children.

How can a man rape a woman much less a child; this has to stop, and the Government need to re-introduce the death penalty,” said Velma Peart, a black-clad, placard-bearing protestor who was among a group of approximately 100 people who marched from Half-Way-Tree to Cross Roads in Kingston, the Jamaican capital.

“The time has come; we have to take back our society [as] this cannot be allowed to continue; the Government needs to send a strong message to these criminals,” said Lillian Vassel, another woman in the group.

The women, who identified themselves as mothers, had the support of Betty Ann Blaine, child rights advocate and founder of the New Nation Coalition.

“I am calling for the death penalty for people who rape children because that little eight-year-old girl will probably never recover. It is tantamount to murder,” said Blaine. “…The laws must be enforced to give them (rapists) the strongest punishment,” Blaine told the Jamaica Observer.

Men who were among the protestors also condemned the vicious rape of the five on Monday and called for a stop to the sexual abuse of women and children.

“We need justice [as] this cannot continue; we need help for our children, it has to stop,” said Kamal Campbell, as he marched with the protestors.

Yesterday, several motorists showed support for the action of the mainly black-clad protestors as they marched along Half-Way-Tree Road by honking their horns.

In downtown Kingston, Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna, officials of the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation joined protestors in that section of the city who pleaded for an end to abuse against women and children.

“… We are encouraged by the turnout,” said Audrey Budhi, director of policy, planning and evaluation at the CDA.

As protestors called for the resumption of the death penalty, Minister Hanna said strenghtening of the laws dealing with sexual abuse was a nationwide effort. “The laws are there, it is really the country that needs to give support; they need to stop hiding these persons, we need to believe our children, and when we see it happening we need to put an end to it,” she said.

Hanna said, too, that there was a need for improvement in the justice system to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence were not allowed to walk free.

She added that consideration needs to be given so that children who are victims of sexual violence may be allowed to give evidence by video. “Sometimes when these children sit on a court stand they fall apart when they have to recount the information. Some of them block it out completely and are not able to testify and [so] a number of the perpetrators walk free,” said Hanna.

Sandrea Falconer, minister without portfolio responsible for information, also said the focus should be on strengthening current laws that deal with sexual abuse.

Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, the Opposition spokesperson on youth and gender affairs, meanwhile, said the time has come for Jamaicans to come forward and to do what is necessary to “clamp down on this problem once and for all”.

General Secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches Rev Gary Harriott, who also joined protestors yesterday, called for Jamaicans to take a stand against violence.


JAPAN – Woman among 2 death-row inmates executed in Japan

September 27, 2012

A faith healer who beat six followers to death was hanged on Sept. 27, making her only the fourth woman to be executed in Japan since 1950, the Justice Ministry said.

Sachiko Eto, 65, was one of two convicted murderers put to death, taking to seven the number of executions carried out this year.

Eto’s punishment was carried out at the Sendai Branch Detention House in northeastern Japan.

The slayings occurred during “exorcism” rituals in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, in 1994 and 1995. Two of the victims were male. Eto ordered the fatal beatings, which involved blows with heavy wooden sticks used for Taiko drumming, and took part in them with her followers.

Eto was originally sentenced to death by a district court, which was upheld on appeal to a high court. The Supreme Court finalized the sentence in 2008.

Yukinori Matsuda, 39, was hanged the same day at the Fukuoka Detention House in western Japan.

Matsuda was convicted in the stabbing murders of a couple during a burglary in Matsubase, Kumamoto Prefecture, now part of Uki, in 2003.

Matsuda made off with 80,000 yen ($1,030) in cash, a wrist watch and other items. He also was originally sentenced to death by a district court, which was upheld on appeal to a high court. His sentence was finalized after he retracted his appeal in 2009.

The executions, the second in two months, leave 131 inmates on death row.

The numbers have been increasing as death sentences continue to be handed down under the citizen judge system introduced three years ago.

It was the fourth round of hangings carried out under Democratic Party of Japan administrations since the party wrested control of government in September 2009, and the second set under Justice Minister Makoto Taki.

Taki, who is 74 years old and has asked to be relieved of his ministerial duties in a Cabinet reshuffle expected next month, denied that he rushed the executions while he was still in office.

Taki is the oldest minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

“I am too old. I had better be left out (of the reshuffle),” Taki told a news conference on Sept. 25.

Taki said he began reviewing the death warrants for Eto and Matsuda even before two other executions were carried out on Aug. 3.

“I decided on the (latest) executions before I made the remark (about being too old),” he said.

Although he is a strong supporter of the death penalty, Taki has called for national debate on capital punishment, which opinion polls show has strong support in Japanese society.

“My basic idea is that those who were sentenced to death should be executed,” he said. “(But) it is an issue that needs to be discussed constantly.

“There is a limit to what discussions within the (justice) ministry can do,” Taki added. “What matters is how the general public perceives this question.”

When the Liberal Democratic Party was in power, executions began to be regularly carried out under Justice Minister Masaharu Gotoda. He resumed executions in 1993 following a 40-month hiatus.

The pace of executions accelerated around the time Jinen Nagase became justice minister in 2006.

Under Kunio Hatoyama, 13 death row inmates were hanged during his 11 months in office.

Hatoyama caused much controversy by saying he wished a system was in place to “automatically” execute death inmates without the justice minister having to review the cases.

Eisuke Mori, the last justice minister under an LDP administration, ordered nine executions during his 11 months in office.

The DPJ, acknowledging a global trend to abolish capital punishment, floated the idea of introducing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole after it took the reins of government in 2009.

Keiko Chiba, the first justice minister under the DPJ-led government, was opposed to the death penalty. Even so, she ordered two hangings in July 2010 and then called for “national debate” on the issue.

A 20-month lull in executions followed as justice ministers came and went. But no national debate was held on the merits of capital punishment.

Executions resumed in March, when Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa ordered three inmates hanged.

He said executions were part of his official duties.

Seven convicted murderers have been executed this year, almost at the pace of LDP-led administrations.

Puerto Rico Jury Deliberates Death Penalty Case

September 26, 2012

A jury in Puerto Rico was deliberating Wednesday whether a convicted drug dealer should be executed for killing a girlfriend who was an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

It could be a landmark case for the U.S. territory, where the death penalty is constitutionally illegal and where the last execution occurred in 1927 by hanging.

Although the local jury has the last word, the case against Edison Burgos Montes is being tried in a federal court, which allows for the death penalty.

If the jury opts for capital punishment, Burgos would be executed on the U.S. mainland in a state selected by the Bureau of Prisons, said Lymarie Llovet, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. If the jury rejects the death penalty, Burgos would be sentenced to life imprisonment, she said.

Burgos was found guilty in late August of killing Madelyn Semidey Morales in July 2005.

The jury began deliberating Tuesday morning and requested clarification Wednesday on several aggravating factors presented by prosecutors. In addition, an alternate juror replaced one juror who was dismissed for medical reasons.

As they deliberated, dozens of people held a vigil outside the federal courthouse to protest the case. Among those are members of the United Evangelical Church, which condemned the death penalty.

“Today we are allergic to forgiveness and to the respect for life,” the church said in a statement.

The case also has stirred anger among Puerto Ricans who resent U.S. involvement in what they say are local affairs. Julio Muriente, co-president of a political party that favors independence, accused U.S. authorities of ignoring Puerto Rico’s constitution.

“The U.S. government unilaterally imposes its will through the federal court,” he said.

The victim’s mother, Georgina Morales, told El Nuevo Dia newspaper when the trial began in April that she does not believe in capital punishment.

“It’s not sufficient punishment for me,” said Morales. “I want the justice system to impose the punishment, but I want it to be prison.”

Morales and other relatives have since declined to speak to the media, though the victim’s father, Carlos Semidey, gave news outlets a handwritten note this week lamenting that his daughter’s body had not been found. “If anyone knows where we can find her remains, please contact the necessary agencies so we can give her a Christian burial,” it said.

Madelyn Semidey also left behind three young daughters.

Puerto Rico juries previously rejected death sentences for federal cases in 2005 and 2006.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office expects that two other death penalty cases will go to trial in January, Llovet said.

In an effort to fight crime, Puerto Rico’s government has asked federal authorities to assume prosecution of certain cases, including carjackings, drive-by shootings and weapon possessions. The island of nearly 4 million people reported a record 1,117 homicides last year.

Puerto Rico banned the death penalty in 1929, two years after farmworker Pascual Ramos was hanged for beheading his boss with a machete. Prior to that, the U.S. military government had executed 23 people, all black and most of them poor or illiterate, after troops seized the island in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

When Puerto Rico approved its first constitution in 1952, it reiterated that capital punishment was illegal and constituted a human rights violation.

But federal prosecutors have continued to seek the death penalty in certain cases.

In 2000, Puerto Rican Judge Salvador Casellas ruled that applying the death penalty would violate Puerto Rico’s constitution as well as the federal statute concerning its status as a self-governing entity. His decision was overturned in 2001 by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which ruled that Puerto Rico is subject to federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Puerto Rico joins 17 U.S. states that do not apply the death penalty.

2 death row inmates hanged in Japan

September 27, 2012

TOKYO, Sept. 27 (UPI) — Two death row inmates in Japan were hanged Thursday, Kyodo News reported, quoting Justice Minister Makoto Tai.

The hangings brought to seven the number of death row inmates executed during the regime of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Those hanged Thursday were identified as Sachiko Eto, 65, a faith healer convicted of killing four believers in 1994 to 1995 and killing two others, and Yukinori Matsuda, 39, convicted of robbery and killing two people in 2003.

Last month, when two others were executed, Amnesty International condemned the actions. Three others had been executed in March.

“After carrying out no executions in 2011, Japan has put five people to death this year firmly reestablishing itself in the minority of countries who still use capital punishment,” said Roseanne Rife, AI’s special projects head.

Rife said Japan’s leadership is “choosing to hide behind public opinion rather than demonstrate leadership and work towards the abolition of this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, while reporting the March executions, said none of the 132 people on Japan’s death row was executed in 2011, the first such in 19 years when no inmate was hanged.

The Guardian said Japan is one of 58 countries including the United States, China and Iran where capital punishment is allowed, while more than 140 countries, including all European Union members, have abolished the death penalty.

IRAQ- Court sentences four al-Qaeda members to death

The Anbar criminal court on Tuesday (September 25th) sentenced four al-Qaeda members to death by hanging and two others to life in prison, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

The defendants confessed to the September 2011 execution-style killing of 22 male bus passengers in al-Nakheeb, Anbar province, said Col. Hikmat Mahmoud al-Masari, director of media and relations at the ministry.

“During their trial, the convicts confessed to committing the crime for purely terrorist motives,” he said.

Australian woman jailed in Malaysia on drug charges pleads to be released

September 26, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: An Australian woman arrested on drug charges in Malaysia and could face the death penalty, made a plea from her jail cell for her release this week.

Emma L’Aiguille broke down when she was visited by her sister for the first time since her arrest.

The mother of 6 pleaded, “Get me out of here.”

According to a report in AdelaideNow, the Australian woman was in tears when her younger sister, Amber Lawn arrived to the Kajang Prison just outside Kuala Lumpur.

L’Aiguille was arrested on July 17 will a reported one kilogram of methamphetamine. She begged her family not to give up on her.

In meeting her sister, she talked about never making it back to Australia and her children in Victoria.

“Get me out of here. I don’t want to come back here on Monday (after a scheduled court appearance). I don’t know how I’ll cope if I’m sent back here,” she told Lawn, the Australian newspaper reported.

In Malaysia, anyone found in possession of 50 grams of a drug or more is considered to be a trafficker, an offense for which the death sentence is mandatory.

Another Australian was detained and charged with trafficking in March.

The man, Dominic Bird, has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled to begin in November. While there is hope that he will be freed, history suggests foreigners get little reprieve from the Malaysian justice system.

The woman was arrested with a Nigerian man on suspicion of attempting to sell over one kilogram of methamphetamine.

Police officials told that the couple was arrested after police became suspicious of their vehicle and approached them, only to discover the drugs in the car.

The Nigerian man has not been identified.

Indian national to hang for murdering employer

September 26, 2012

SHAH ALAM: An Indian national was sentenced to death by the High Court for murdering his employer, prominent lawyer Datuk R. Anpalagan.

R.Narayanan, who worked for Anpalagan at his temple, appeared downcast before proceedings yesterday, but looked calm after the guilty verdict was delivered.In handing down the sentence, judge Datuk Mohd Sofian Abdul Razak said that he rejected Narayanan’s defence of provocation and ruled that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Narayanan was charged in June last year with murdering Anpalagan by hacking him to death with a parang at the Sri Ramalingeswarari temple in Klang about 9.30pm on June 13.

Anpalagan was a prominent corporate lawyer specialising in land matters.

After sentencing lawyer Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, who was holding watching brief for Anpalagan’s wife, asked the court for permission to allow To’ Puan Thelagam Arumugam, also a lawyer, to make a statement.

Thelagam, who was seated directly in front of the dock where Narayanan was, read out from a prepared document how the accused had handed her husband a death sentence, and her family, a life sentence, by murdering her husband of 12 years.

She talked about how life will never be the same again for her and her 12-year old daughter as well as Anpalagan’s family and friends.

Thelagam kept glancing at Narayanan as she described how the accused inflicted her husband with ’18 deadly slash wounds with clear intention to murder’.

“Datuk loved and adored his only daughter who was 11-years-old when he passed away. Their bond and closeness cannot be described. He was her protector and the perfect father,” she said in a shaky voice.

She went on to add that it was heartbreaking to see her daughter suffer and not be able to do anything about it.

“My daughter waits for the return of her loving father everyday. I cannot believe that we will never see him again. Our hearts suffer from the deepest wound which will never recover,” she said.

Thelagam added that she had difficulty sleeping since the incident and had to take medication to get her through the day.

“For most of us a temple is a holy place but for the accused, it was where he committed murder and absconded with temple jewellery.

“The temple, a place of worship has been invaded by violence, the temple has lost its sponsor,” she said.

Thelagam said it was hard to accept that her husband had suffered pain, terror and betrayal when he realised that someone he trusted was taking his life.

A total of 17 prosecution witnesses testified in the trial while the defence called three witnesses, including the accused and his father.

The third defence witness was a doctor who had treated Narayanan.

Narayanan had put up a defence of provocation, where he had raised issues related to non-payment of salary, detention of his passport by the deceased, verbal abuse and assault.