Saturday, April 20, 2002


Singapore death penalty shrouded in silence

Capital punishment in the tiny island state has long been shrouded in silence, with little public debate about the issue and even less information on how the process is carried out.

"We do have a general policy not to give any information on the death penalty," a prison official told Reuters.

Even the families of those facing the gallows receive scant notice, and any information about the Friday hangings are typically released only after the deed has been done.

The prosperous city-state of four million, ruled by the People's Action Party for four decades, has had capital punishment for murder since its days as a British colony.

Those found guilty of kidnapping, treason and certain firearm offences could face the gallows, although local civil rights group the Think Centre says about 70 percent of hangings are for drug offences.

The government revealed recently, only in reply to a question in parliament, that 340 people were hanged between 1991 and 2000.

Some 110 nations have abolished capital punishment in law or practice as of November 2001, while another 85 retain it.

Western critics point to the "right to life" as a fundamental reason to abolish the death penalty, but Singapore has shrugged off such notions and looks unlikely to scrap it anytime soon.

The basic difference in our approach springs from our traditional Asian value system which places the interests of the community over and above that of the individual," Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in a speech.

"No government wants to take on Singapore because they are trading here too. They keep quiet except when their own nationals are arrested," Samydorai said.

"Nobody makes noise when a local is being hung."

Wait a minute...I like to color...

Jury Deems Texas Killer Competent

CONROE, Texas - Convicted killer Johnny Paul Penry, described by his lawyers as mentally retarded, is competent to assist in his defense and can face a third hearing on whether he should get the death penalty, a jury decided Thursday.

Penry, 45, has spent half his life locked up, for killing Pamela Moseley Carpenter in 1979 at her home in Livingston.

He was twice sentenced to death, but both sentences were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court most recently last June. His murder conviction stands, meaning the only question a trial jury will answer at the third sentencing hearing is whether Penry deserves life in prison or lethal injection.

But another case pending with the U.S. Supreme Court could still affect the Penry case. The high court is considering a Virginia case that questions the constitutionality of executing the mentally retarded. A ruling in that case is expected by June.

During closing arguments Thursday morning, defense attorneys emphasized the helplessness of Penry, who likes coloring books and says he still believes in Santa Claus.

Death penalty opponents have pointed to Penry as a reason why Texas should prohibit executions of mentally retarded people. A bill to ban such punishment was approved in the Legislature last year but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.

Penry's IQ was tested to be in the 50s and low 60s on a scale where 70 is considered mentally retarded. Jurors were asked to decide whether he has "sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding."

Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon said the law established a minimal standard for mental competence because "criminals — as a general rule — aren't very bright."

Penry was on parole for rape when he was charged with killing Carpenter, the 22-year-old sister of former Washington Redskins kicker Mark Moseley. She was stabbed in the chest with scissors and raped but was able to describe her attacker before she died.

In 1986 and again in 2000, Penry was taken to a cell a few feet from the death chamber to await lethal injection. Both times he was granted a last-minute reprieve.

Dateline: Nigeria "The Fabulous Bakassi Boys"

Amnesty watches, whines but does not intercede...

Amnesty witnesses Nigerian vigilantes attempt execution

LAGOS, Nigeria - Amnesty International observers themselves witnessed a vigilante band trying to burn a man alive outside the offices of a Nigerian state governor, the rights group said, in a report sounding an alarm over intensifying vigilante killings in Africa's most populous nation.

An Amnesty delegation watched as members of the Bakassi Boys, an anti-crime, state-supported militia also known as the Anambra State Vigilante Service, poured gasoline on their unidentified victim, who was trussed up and badly beaten, Amnesty said in a newly released report.

Amnesty called the brutal attack "illustrative" of what it said were more than 1,000 summary executions carried out by the Bakassi Boys since 2000.
It added that dozens more people have been reported tortured by vigilante gangs, or were missing after encounters with them.

The Bakassi Boys, a group that vows to capture common criminals, receives funding, vehicles and weapons from Anambra state.

The Bakassi Boys were "pouring petrol over the man's body with the clear intention of setting him on fire," the statement added. "The man was on his knees, his arms tied behind his back and his face disfigured by recent beatings. He was bleeding profusely," Amnesty said, adding that when the Bakassi Boys "realized there were strangers watching the scene, they bundled their victim into a van loaded the vehicle with machetes and guns and drove away."

Some Nigerians praise the Bakassi Boys and other vigilante groups for being more effective in fighting crime than the country's underfunded and often corrupt police force. Others criticize the extra-judicial groups' often-brutal methods, such as burning alive and torturing alleged criminals.

Friday, April 19, 2002

MISSOURI LAST MEAL...April 10, 2002

Bovine lover Paul Kreutzer

The skinny....
Paul Kreutzer was the fourth inmate put to death by Missouri this year and the 55th since the state's death penalty was reinstated in 1989.

The crime...
Kreutzer was convicted of raping and murdering Louise Ann Hemphill at her northeast Missouri home on September 2., 1992. The autopsy showed that Hemphill's skull had been shattered with a baseball bat, her throat had been cut and she had been strangled with a belt.

The alibi....
Kreutzer, 30, had said he could not have killed Hemphill because he was across the Mississippi River committing two burglaries in rural Illinois at the time of the killing. The alibi is a recent change from the 10-year-old defense put forth by his lawyers: that he is guilty but should not be executed because of mental defects caused by a childhood of horrific abuse.

A note to parents...
Among abuse the allegations made against his adopted parents: that he was physically abused; that he was forced to drink his own urine after wetting his bed; that he was told to have sexual relations with a cow as punishment for a sexual fixation on his younger sister; and that he was chained to his bed as punishment for having sex with the animal.

The cliche'
Along with his identical twin brother and younger sister, Kreutzer was adopted by Don and Ruth Kreutzer when he was 3.

Maybe, maybe not....
Missouri Division of Family Services records on Kreutzer were excluded from his trial as hearsay. But five of the agency's officials testified that they believed Kreutzer's abuse claims to be true.

His parents have long denied the abuse allegations, but say they believe their son's claim of innocence. Like Kreutzer, they blame earlier guilty pleas on lawyers who liked their chances with the "mental defects" defense better than challenging the facts of the case.

Last Meal...was grilled ham & cheese sandwich, onion rings, cheesecake and returning to his first love...milk.

Dateline: Russia...

Neither cruel nor unusual....

Russian Supreme Court chairman says Russia should not resume death penalty

MOSCOW - Russia's Supreme Court chairman said Tuesday that the country should not revive the death penalty despite public support for its resumption. The moratorium was imposed in 1996 to gain entrance into Europe's leading human rights body, the Council of Europe.

Russia's lower house of parliament appealed to Putin earlier this year to resume executions because of soaring crime. Polls show that most Russians support the death penalty and believe it would act as a deterrent. But critics warn that reviving the death penalty would derail Russia's efforts to shed its repressive past.

Uncle Joe would be so proud.

Countdown to continues. It won't be long now.

Good things come to those who wait. Now for the updates....