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  1. Nao Terai photo

    Commemorative Coins for Utah’s Firing Squad

    Nao Terai on 18 June 2010

    Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49, is scheduled to die tonight at midnight in Utah in front of a firing squad. With Mr. Gardner’s face hooded and strapped to a chair, five law enforcement officers will aim .30-caliber rifle and shoot at a target pinned to his heart him from 25 feet away. One of the five riffles will be armed with an “ineffective” round so that no one would know who delivered the fatal shot. Two alternate executioners will be standing by in case one of the original gunmen loses his nerves.

    To commemorate this event, Utah Correctional Department has ...

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  2. Generic - barbed wire hazy

    Utah’s willing executioner

    Kate Morris on 15 June 2010

    An anonymous gunman appears to relish the prospect of shooting Ronnie Lee Gardner this Friday.

    It isn’t easy being part of a firing squad. For one thing, you need a good sense of timing: all five gunmen must fire simultaneously. Then there’s the lingering sense of guilt - although admittedly one of the bullets is traditionally a blank, so no one knows who’s fired the fatal shot.

    Yet one anonymous gunman, interviewed in Salt Lake City by a CNN reporter last week, is undeniably enthusiastic about his career.  A member of the firing squad which executed John Albert ...

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  3. Katherine O'Shea BW

    Guantanamo under President Obama: the numbers

    Katherine O'Shea on 14 June 2010

    The prison at Guantanamo Bay is still open and a US Task Force report has now provided some public figures, below, on the number and status of prisoners there.  Reprieve is still urgently seeking a home for Ahmed Belbacha (right) who has elected to stay in the prison rather than return to persecution in his native Algeria.

    240 - files reviewed 

    126 - total number of prisoners approved for transfer out of the prison

    59  - transferred 

    181-  men still at Guantanamo

    30 - Yemenis approved for 'conditional detention' - meaning that they can be transferred if one of three specified conditions is met

    48 ...

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  4. Tara Murray

    Put to the Test

    Tara Murray on 11 June 2010

    A Washington, DC federal district court judge has refused to accept the U.S. government’s blanket assertion that Guantánamo prisoner Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed will not be tortured or persecuted if sent to Algeria.  

    Last fall the same judge, Gladys Kessler, ordered the U.S. to immediately release Farhi after she decided that he was being illegally held at Guantánamo. In her unclassified opinion ordering Farhi’s release, Judge Kessler rejected the U.S. government’s evidence, which consisted almost entirely of statements tortured out of British resident Binyam Mohamed. This served as the first judicial finding in the ...

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  5. Death row - table through window

    The death penalty called into question

    Jai Popat on 10 June 2010

    Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E Pfeifer has recently been calling for the creation of a commission to review the cases of 160 death row inmates. The question it would need to ask is simply: does this person need to be on death row?

    Now, it is clear that anybody blogging on this website will always ask that question and respond with a negative answer each time. We have as many reasons as there are cases and probably more besides.

    But this is not just another abolitionist calling for change, but a state Supreme Court Justice who was one of ...

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  6. Death row - table through window

    Libya executes 18

    Jai Popat on 10 June 2010

    It has emerged that Libya has executed eighteen people at the beginning of the month for “premeditated murder”. Of the eighteen, ten were from Nigeria and the remaining eight others from Chad and Egypt. Their identities still have not been disclosed and given the existing concerns surrounding Libya’s trial process, there are inevitably doubts as to the fairness of both sentence and execution, regardless of one’s view of the death penalty in principle.

    Aside from the continuing concern over fair trials however, these executions highlight particular issues.

    First, we should highlight the differing nationalities of the defendants. Foreigners ...

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  7. Cortney Busch BW 2011

    Rave reviews for Laughter/Pain

    Cortney Busch on 09 June 2010

    Read the rave review of Reprieve’s comedy night, Laughter/Pain, from The Telegraph’s Tom Chivers.

    For a recap of the night, read Spoonfed’s review here.

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  8. Clare Duffy

    Raising the roof for Reprieve: highlights from Comedy Night 2010

    Clare Duffy on 08 June 2010

    Last night ten top comedians, including Tim Minchin, Stewart Lee and Ed Byrne, came together to ‘stand up’ for Reprieve in front of 1,300 supporters in  London’s Lyceum Theatre.

    Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith opened the night by explaining why the Reprieve stewards were wearing rather fetching orange pants – due to the (unintentionally) comic regulations at Guantanamo Bay that ban prisoners from wearing Speedos and contraband underpants.

    The rest of the first act was also pant-wettingly funny (groan-sorry!). First up was Ed Byrne, who launched into an angry rant about sombre Tuesday night crowds making Reprieve very relieved ...

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  9. Generic - light bulb in dingy corridor

    China issues first set of guidelines on what constitutes torture

    Chloe Strowger on 04 June 2010

    In a surprise manoeuvre, China has released specific rules as to what measures of interrogation will be permitted in order to secure admissible evidence.

    Only evidence obtained through “legal means” will be considered in death sentence cases. The two regulations indicate that where evidence is extracted through torture (although there appears to be a marked absence of what constitutes torture in China), it will not be used in testimony. The regulations advise the various states within China how to exclude such evidence.

    It is expected (or rather hoped) that the new procedural provisions will enable clearer interpretation of specific laws ...

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  10. Death row - cell

    Chief Medical Examiner is fired over testifying in death cases

    Chloe Strowger on 04 June 2010

    Chief Medical Examiner, Paul Shrode, has been dismissed from his position within El Paso County, Texas after it was discovered that evidence he had previously provided during a death penalty trial in Ohio was found to be false and without scientific merit.

     It was during Richard Nields trial in 1997 that Shrode’s testimony helped to secure a death sentence. It has now been strongly recommended that Nields receive clemency for the conviction.

    Digging further into Shrode’s past for further potential misdemeanours it has been revealed that he also made misrepresentations on his CV. Not only did he claim ...

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