Friday, 30 January 2009

Abolition proposal to Pakistan's president

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari has received a proposal to convert death sentences to life imprisonment, according to a television report quoted by the Daily Times.

The newspaper reported today that the Interior Ministry sent a summary proposal to the president for approval.

According to the Pakistani newspaper, the television report said the federal government sent the proposal to the Law Ministry six months ago, which then forwarded a revised draft to the Interior Ministry.

It said if the law was approved, it would not apply to "people sentenced to death for terrorist attacks harming national integrity".

In June 2008, prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the government would propose to the president that all death sentences be commuted to life imprisonment.

If it was applied to Pakistan's current death row population, up to 7,000 death row prisoners could be spared execution by hanging.

Despite the review, president Asif Ali Zardari released a new ordinance on electronic crime in early November making 'cyber-terrorism' a capital offence, and human rights organisations have reported that prisoners were still being executed.

Related stories:
Pakistan's mixed signals on death penalty -- 2 December 2008
Will Pakistan's death row be emptied? -- 24 June 2008

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Japan: New year, more hangings

Human rights campaigners have condemned the first executions carried out in Japan in 2009, following the hanging of four prisoners in three cities this morning [29 January].

The Justice Ministry reportedly confirmed the men, all executed for murder, were:
  • Shojiro Nishimoto, 32, hanged at the Tokyo Detention Center
  • Yukinari Kawamura, 44, and Tetsuya Sato, 39, hanged in Nagoya
  • Tadashi Makino, 58, hanged in Fukuoka.
Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern in December that Makino Tadashi could soon be executed, after his latest appeal for clemency was rejected on 30 September.

"These are heinous cases which destroyed precious human lives," justice minister Mori Eisuke said, according to a report by AFP newsagency.

"I ordered the executions after cautious examination."

Mori Eisuke has now sent six men to the gallows since he was appointed justice minister on 24 September 2008.

He previously approved two executions, with the hanging of Michitoshi Kuma, 70, and Masahiro Takashio, 55, on 28 October.

The Japanese section of Amnesty International condemned the latest executions.

"We feel strong anger over these executions," the organisation's Tokyo branch said in a statement quoted by AFP.

"The Japanese government should recognise its international obligation to establish a criminal justice system which does not rely on capital punishment"

Japan executed a total of fifteen people in 2008, the highest rate in more than thirty years.

Related stories:
Executions in Japan -- 2006 - 2008 -- 2 January 2009
Japan may execute before year ends -- 16 December 2008
Japan: Record toll with new hangings -- 28 October 2008
Japan: New minister faces next hanging -- 14 October 2008
Japan: New minister sends three to death -- 12 September 2008

China: Death over milk, but no official answers

Two men have been sentenced to death in China and 19 people jailed over a milk contamination scandal that killed six infants and left hundreds of thousands with chronic health problems.

However there has been no public accounting for how the Sanlu Group was permitted to sell milk powder cut with plastic chemicals -- and to continue supplying hundreds of tons of the product for five weeks after the contamination was revealed in official testing.

Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping were sentenced to death for producing and selling baby milk powder laced with melamine powder to artificially boost test results meant to measure protein levels.

Chinese government newsagency Xinhua reported that Zhang Yujun was convicted of endangering public safety for producing 770 tons of "protein powder" and selling more than 600 tons.

Geng Jinping, convicted of manufacturing and selling toxic food, sold Sanlu more than 900 tons of milk tainted by 434 kg of protein powder.

Four former Sanlu executives received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment, according to the Xinhua report.

"The Ministry of Health has put the number of infants who died after drinking melamine contaminated milk products at six," the report said.

"Another 296,000 infants suffered kidney stones and other urinary problems."

Official reports blamed Sanlu for continuing to sell contaminated milk products after test results revealed it had been supplied with suspect "protein powder".

"The management of Sanlu decided to continue producing baby milk powder containing melamine after the Hebei Provincial Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau confirmed on Aug. 1 last year that samples sent by the company were contaminated," Xinhua said.

"From Aug. 2 to Sept. 12 last year, Sanlu Group produced 904 tons of melamine-tainted baby formula powder and sold 813 tons of the tainted products, making 47.5 million yuan."

Selective blame
Western media reported that local government officials ordered the state-controlled company to keep quiet and prevented it from recalling the products from sale ahead of the 2008 Olympic games.

The contamination was only acted on when the New Zealand government reported it to Chinese authorities. New Zealand company Fonterra had a 43 per cent stake in Sanlu, which it has since written off.

And while 22 companies were said to be involved in the scandal, only executives from Sanlu and a range of middlemen have so far been charged, prompting accusations of corruption or scapegoating.

China's english language media also did not report accusations against the government by the families of victims of the scandal.

"I think the government officials involved should shoulder the criminal responsibilities they deserve," said Zhao Lianhai, whose three year-old son was affected by the milk and who has campaigned for compensation.

"They should be put on trial as well, but I'm sorry to say that nothing is happening," he said, according to the UK's Daily Telegraph.

Related stories:
China: Executions to preserve order, control -- 12 December 2008
China executes drug regulator -- 12 July, 2007

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Organ transplant after execution: Singapore

A prominent Singapore businessman reportedly received a kidney transplant last Friday using an organ donated by an executed gangster.

According to The Straits Times, police confirmed former gang leader Tan Chor Jin was hanged in Changi prison on the morning of 9 January, for the 2006 shooting of a nightclub owner.

The paper reported that retail magnate Tang Wee Sung received the kidney transplant later in the day in the National University Hospital.

Tan, 42, was executed about two weeks after his appeal for presidential clemency was rejected in the last week of December.

Singapore's president has granted clemency only six times since the country since independence in 1965.

Singapore newspapers reported in the days before Tan's execution that he had told his wife and mistress he wanted to donate his organs after his death.

Tan, 42, was convicted in May 2007 of discharging a firearm, which carries a mandatory death penalty.

The High Court was told he entered nightclub operator Lim Hock Soon's flat on the morning of 15 February, 2006, ordering him to tie up his wife, daughter and their maid. Tan fired six rounds from a pistol, hitting Lim five times and killing him instantly.

He was arrested in a hotel raid by Malaysian police after he fled to Kuala Lumpur.

The High Court rejected his defence arguments that he had been drunk, the shots were fired accidentally and he had acted in self-defence after Mr Lim threw a chair at him.

Tan discharged his lawyer and represented himself during his trial, but he was represented in his appeal by criminal lawyers Subhas Anandan and Sunil Sudheesan.

He was referred to by the media as a triad gang leader and the 'One-eyed Dragon' because he was blind in his right eye.

The New Paper claimed in 2006 that Tan was hired by a Malaysian crime syndicate to kill Lim in a dispute over gambling winnings.

Tang was jailed for a day and fined $17,000 in 2008 in the country's first organ trading case, after he was convicted of trying to buy a kidney from an Indonesian.

In the previous reported execution, Singapore hanged Mohammed Ali Johari on 19 December 2008 for the murder of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Executions in Japan -- 2006 - 2008

Japan has executed 28 people since December 2006. All were hanged for crimes including murder.

Justice minister Mori Eisuke
+ Appointed minister 24 September 2008
+ Approved 2 executions (to end 2008)

28 October 2008
Michitoshi Kuma, 70 (Fukuoka)
Masahiro Takashio, 55 (Sendai)

Justice minister Okiharu Yasuoka
+ Minister from August -- September 2008
+ Approved 3 executions
+ Approved 3 further executions when he served as justice minister from July -- December 2000

11 September 2008
Yoshiyuki Mantani, 68 (Osaka)
Mineteru Yamamoto, 68 (Osaka)
Isamu Hirano, 61 (Tokyo)

Justice minister Kunio Hatoyama
+ 27 August 2007 -- August 2008
+ Approved 13 executions

17 June 2008
Tsutomu Miyazaki, 45 (Tokyo)
Shinji Mutsuda, 37 (Tokyo)
Yoshio Yamasaki, 73 (Osaka)

10 April 2008
Masahito Sakamoto, 41 (Tokyo)
Kaoru Okashita, 61 (Tokyo)
Katsuyoshi Nakamoto, 64 (Osaka)
Masaharu Nakamura, 61 (Osaka)

1 February 2008
Masahiko Matsubara, 63 (Osaka)
Takashi Mochida, 65 (Tokyo)
Keishi Nago, 37 (Fukuoka)

7 December 2007
Seiha Fujima, 47 (Tokyo)
Hiroki Fukawa, 42 (Tokyo)
Noboru Ikemoto, 75 (Osaka)

Justice minister Jinen Nagase
+ Minister from 26 September 2006 -- August 2007
+ Approved 10 executions

23 August, 2007
Hifumi Takezawa, 69 (Tokyo)
Yoshio Iwamoto, 63 (Tokyo)
Kozo Segawa, 60 (Nagoya)

27 April 2007
Kosaku Nata, 56 (Osaka)
Yoshikatsu Oda, 59 (Fukuoka)
Masahiro Tanaka (also Miyashita), 42 (Tokyo)

25 December 2006
Yoshimitsu Akiyama, 77 (Tokyo)
Hiroaki Hidaka, 44 (Hiroshima)
Yoshio Fujinami, 75 (Tokyo)
Michio Fukuoka, 64 (Osaka)

Seiken Sugiura, who was justice minister from October 2005 -- September 2005, approved no executions as a result of his Buddhist religious beliefs.

The last execution prior to his appointment was reported to have been on 16 September 2005.

Related stories:
Japan: Record toll with new hangings -- 28 October 2008
Japan: New minister sends three to death -- 12 September 2008