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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

British dad spends 1,000th day on Ethiopia’s death row

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege and his family
Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege and his family
A father-of-three from London has now spent 1,000 days on Ethiopia’s death row, after the country’s security forces kidnapped and rendered him there in June 2014.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a vocal critic of Ethiopia’s ruling party, disappeared while transiting through an international airport almost three years ago.

Ethiopian officials later admitted to having illegally ‘rendered’ him to a secret prison, in a process which British diplomats privately deemed “completely unacceptable”.

Mr Tsege is being held unlawfully under a death sentence that was handed down in absentia, when he lived in North London with his partner and their three young children.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has failed to secure Mr Tsege’s return to the UK, despite visiting Ethiopia for the first time as recently as last week.

Mr Johnson claimed on Friday (17th) to have secured progress on the case, saying that Mr Tsege has been promised regular access to a lawyer.

However, the UK government’s focus on legal access for Mr Tsege has caused dismay among MPs from across the political spectrum.

A former Attorney-General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Lord Chancellor have all warned that: “The British Government’s emphasis on securing Mr Tsege a lawyer ignores statements by the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister confirming that ‘there is no appeal process’ available to Mr Tsege.”

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“It is appalling that Andy Tsege is spending his 1,000th day on death row in Ethiopia, just days after Boris Johnson missed a vital chance to seek his return to the UK. It’s clear there is no justice for Andy in the compromised Ethiopian court system, and it’s hard to see how a lawyer can help him when the Ethiopians have said he has no way of appealing his death sentence. It’s time for the UK Government to bring this British father home.”

On Monday (20th) at 2.30pm, Mr Tsege's partner and children will go to the Foreign Office to hand in a petition calling on Boris Johnson to secure his return to the UK.

➤ Further detail on Mr Tsege’s case can be found on the Reprieve website, here.

Source: Reprieve, March 19, 2017

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