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Sakineh Mohamamadi Ashtiani
Sakineh Mohamamadi Ashtiani
FROM THE STONE AGE TO THE ‘CIVILTY’ OF THE LETHAL INJECTION, BY SERGIO D’ELIA - HANDS OFF CAIN SECRETARY

October 5, 2010: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the west of having a double standard, having criticised the Iranian regime for the treatment of Sakineh Ashtiani, but not acting to save Teresa Lewis who was executed in the civil and democratic America.
Aside from the apparent similarities of the judicial cases, the cases of Sakineh and Teresa are different from many view points. Lewis was sentenced to death for having planned the murder of her husband and his adoptive son. Ashtiani was put in jail to be whipped 99 times for “illicit relations”, and then was accused of complicity in the murder of her husband. As of today, we do not know if the Sakineh's trial was completed or not, if she will be sentenced for adultery or for murder, or if she will be stoned or, thanks to their mercy, will only be hung. It is also not true that Teresa's case did not attract interest and arouse reactions like Sakineh's did. Her cause resulted in 4,000 pardon requests being sent to the governor of Virginia, including those from European Union representatives and personalities like writer John Grisham and Bianca Jagger.
Having said this, Sakineh and Teresa are the two different faces of the same false and archaic coin of the death penalty. The principles, equal and contrary, of Islamic law of the talion on one side and the biblical law of an eye for an eye on the other. They use the same aberrant logic, according to which life is defended by inflicting death. Nor does the method of execution make a difference. Certainly, stoning is more terrible. The condemned comes wrapped from head to toe in a white shroud and tied up, the woman up till her underarms, the man until his waist?. A load of stones is transported to the place and prison functionaries or simply authorised citizens carry out the stoning. The stones must not be large to cause death with one or two hits, so as to ensure a slow and painful death.
This happens not only in Iran, but in the rest of the world- the passage from the stone age to the “civilty” of the lethal injection cannot be considered a victory.
On September 28, 2009, in the United States, an event even more surreal and incomprensible that of than Teresa Lewis occured. A 31 year old white man, Brandon Joseph Rhode, was executed in Jackson prison in Georgia by lethal injection. The week before, he had attempted suicide by cutting his veins and throat with a razor blade. He was saved thanks to the intervention of the jail personnel and recovered in hospital. He was then tied to a bed and administed the lethal injection. The staff needed around 30 minutes to find the veins where the lethal cocktail is injected, that took 14 minutes before taking effect. He was exectued by the same staff that had rightly intervened to save his life.
Also in America, where a little breathing space may be given to prisoners on death row. From here to the end of the year there are 17 candidates awaiting the lethal injection, but the majority of them could receive a stay of execution because the shortage of sodium thiopental (Pentotal), the barbituate present in all protocols of lethal injection of the various US states.
On August 25, Kentucky announced that they only have 9.5 grammes of the drug in stock. For an execution 3 grammes is needed, plus another 3 grammes for an “emergency”, in the case of complications. This caused Democratic Governor Steve Beshear to sign only one of the three execution orders and to delay the other two. Jail staff in Kentucky haven't found more Pentotal on the market or on loan from other states; on the contrary, they have said that while they have contacted other states in search of Pentotal, the other states are also contacting them for the same problem.
Meanwhile in Ohio, jail staff decided the dates of executions based on the difficulty of finding Pentotal. In Oklahoma, an esecution was delayed after a federal judge imposed a public hearing to discuss the request by the State to substitute Pentotal with an equivalent drug. From now till the end of the year, Missouri will execute only one prisoner, Roderick Nunley. His execution is scheduled for October 20, the others will be postponed because the Pentotal expires in January and more cannot be found. Arizona announced that due to the shortage of the drug it will be difficult to find a dose to carry out an execution scheduled for the end of October.
In California something unimaginable happened only a short time ago. On September 30, federal judge Jeremy Fogel resisted pressure from the Governor and jail authorities to validate in extremis the State's new lethal injection protocol that would have allowed the execution that night of Albert Greenwood Brown, a 56 year old African American sentenced to death for having raped and murdered a girl. In the morning judge Fogel gave Brown a delay of only two days, long enough however to clear October 1st, the expiry date of the only dose of sodium thiopentale available to the Californian executioner.
The only state not having problems with Pentotal seems to be Texas, the American death penalty champion. “We have three executions scheduled before the end of the year, and we have sufficient supplies to carry them out,” Michelle Lyons, Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville spokesperson said.
Some supporters of capital punishement in the United States suspect that the pharmaceutical company Hospira has orchestrated the Pentotal shortage because it is against the use of its product in the death penalty system. The company explained that the shortage derives from the shortage of another drug, Propofol, of more common use in operating theatres. This has induced anathesiasts to fall back on Pentotal, geernating the scarcity of the barbituate. Hospira assured that the shortage could be fixed in the first months of 2011, maybe in March. However they also confirmed that “the company produces this drug to improve or save a human life and that its use is exclusively limited to the instructions written on the label”, which “do not list capital punishment.”
In contrast to the dark and monolithic (in every sense) Mullah's regime, in the complex and contradictary American death penalty system, sometimes only a grain of sand can stop the machine.

HANDS OFF CAIN MISSION IN ZAMBIA FOR ABOLITION AND UN MORATORIUM
MALAYSIA: SECURITY GUARD TO HANG FOR DRUG CHARGE
IRAN DEFENDS EXECUTION OF DRUG TRAFFICKERS
TEXAS (USA): SPECIAL COURT OF REVIEW DISMISSES PUBLIC REPRIMAND OF JUDGE KELLER
IRAN: FIVE HANGED FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
IRAN: WOMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR MURDER
HANDS OFF CAIN PRESENT THE INITIATIVES FOR THE WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
IRAN: ONE WOMAN, THREE MEN HANGED ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
SOMALIA: PUNTLAND COURT EXECUTES 2 PEOPLE FOR MUDRER
MALAYSIA: DRINK SELLER TO HANG FOR DRUGS
EP: RESOLUTION DEMANDS WORLDWIDE MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS
SPAIN: ZAPATERO CALLS FOR WORLDWIDE MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY
IRAN: 8 PEOPLE HANGED IN KERMAN
ITALY: THE CHAMBER APPROVES ZAMPARUTTI'S MOTION IN FAVOUR OF A NEW UN PRO MORATORIUM RESOLUTION
OHIO (USA): MICHAEL BENGE EXECUTED
GAMBIA INTRODUCES DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG SMUGGLING
INDIA: DEATH SENTENCE COMMUTED TO LIFE TERM FOR 4 OF A FAMILY
MALAYSIA: DUO SENTENCED TO HANG FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
IRAN: THREE MEN, WOMAN HANGED

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  BELARUS EXECUTES TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS  
  MALAYSIA: GOVT HALTS EXECUTION OF 1,200 DEATH ROW INMATES  
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