2010: Farid Baghlani, womanslayer

6 comments November 13th, 2013 Headsman

On this date in 2010, Farid Baghlani was hanged in Ahvaz for a 2004-2008 serial murder spree that claimed the lives of six women.

At trial, Baghlani openly attributed his crimes to his hatred for women, probably not a defense calculated to maximize his prospects of acquittal. Those who lost loved ones to Baghlani returned the sentiment, and celebrated his execution by handing out sweets.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Iran,Murder,Ripped from the Headlines,Serial Killers

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2010: Chemical Ali

Add comment January 25th, 2013 Headsman

On this date in 2010, American-occupied Iraq hanged Ali Hassan al-Majid — Saddam Hussein‘s cousin and longtime aide, better known as Chemical Ali.

Ali Hassan al-Majid as the King of Spades in the U.S. invasion force’s playing-card deck of wanted Iraqis.

Al-Majid acquired his chilling nickname for the notorious March 1988 attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja.

That day, after an appetizer of conventional bombing, Iraqi jets dropped a cocktail of multiple chemical weapons — mustard gas, sarin, tabun, and VX, give or take — killing up to 5,000 people.

“It was life frozen. Life had stopped, like watching a film and suddenly it hangs on one frame,” wrote the ethnically Iranian BBC correspondent Kaveh Golestan,* who arrived on the scene after the bombardment.

“It was a new kind of death to me. You went into a room, a kitchen and you saw the body of a woman holding a knife where she had been cutting a carrot. (…) The aftermath was worse. Victims were still being brought in. Some villagers came to our chopper. They had 15 or 16 beautiful children, begging us to take them to hospital. So all the press sat there and we were each handed a child to carry. As we took off, fluid came out of my little girl’s mouth and she died in my arms.”

It was the most emblematically ghastly event in a running ethnic cleansing campaign of the late 1980s, also headed by al-Majid.

The Halabja attack was the last of four separate death sentences Chemical Ali racked up after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and it was handed down just a week before he stood on the gallows. The larger Kurdish genocide campaign as a whole was a separate death sentence from Halabja; there were also two others for his brutal suppressions of Shia uprisings in the 1990s.

He met all his tribunals defiantly, refusing to enter a plea and then openly embracing the atrocities imputed him. “I am the one who gave orders to the army to demolish villages and relocate villagers,” he once spat in court. “I am not defending myself, I am not apologizing. I did not make a mistake.”

* Himself a casualty of the Iraq War: Golestan was killed when he stepped on a landmine in 2003.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Crimes Against Humanity,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Infamous,Iraq,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Ripped from the Headlines,Soldiers,USA

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2010: Zeng Jinchun, corrupt anti-corruption official

Add comment December 30th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 2010, a former Communist Party of China (CPC) anti-corruption official was shot … for corruption.

Zeng, former secretary of the Chenzhou Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC and vice secretary of the CPC Chenzhou Municipal Committee, gorged on 31 million yuan ($4.7 million) in bribes from 1997 to 2006, doling out lucrative mining contracts and sinecures in exchange.

Although known in the Hunan coal-mining city as “a modern-day Heshen” — Chenzhou residents whose businesses had been widely subject to Zeng’s crude protection-racket shakedowns set off fireworks to celebrate his arrest — Zeng was all but impossible to dislodge.

Zeng bribed up to higher officials for protection as effectively as he squeezed those below. It’s just another piece of the graft so endemic in China that it’s frankly represented in popular literature. (And has often appeared on the execution grounds, too.)

“Officials, especially high-ranking ones, are basically not held accountable for paying bribes,” a journalist who wrote a book about Zeng told NPR. “This is because China’s judiciary is not independent enough.” Zeng wasn’t even charged with this crime — just extortion.

Zeng’s well-placed protectors defeated at least three investigations. He was only overcome by an order from the very top: President and Party Chairman Hu Jintao, who scribbled onto a secret report of Zeng’s antics,

“To Comrade Wu Guanzheng: Put more effort into investigating corruption in Chenzhou. Signed, Hu Jintao, July 19, 2006.”

Three months later, Zeng was under arrest.

The effects of power, corruption, privilege, and cutthroat economies did not go with him. After all, on the same date Zeng was put to death, officials elsewhere in Hunan province also announced the execution of one Chen Haitao for torching an airport shuttle bus. The blaze killed two and seriously injured three others.

Chen committed the arson to revenge society as he had “blamed his business failure on social injustice,” the court said in a statement.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Businessmen,Capital Punishment,China,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Pelf,Politicians,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot

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2010: Mohsen bin Faisal Al Barik Al-Dossary, Saudi cop-killer

Add comment November 20th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 2010, a Saudi Arabian man named Mohsen al-Dossary or al-Dussari was beheaded in Riyadh for having shot dead a police officer in nearby Kharj who tried to stop him driving the wrong way on a street.

That’s some costly road rage.

Islamic sharia law provides the victim’s family the right to pardon an offender and stop an execution; implicit in that right is the need for the offended family to make a legally supportable determination to withhold pardon in order for an execution to proceed. In an interesting twist on that jurisprudence, the Saudi Press Agency reported that al-Dossary had to wait several years in prison while the policeman’s sons grew to majority and could legally consent to having the murderer put to death.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Murder,Public Executions,Saudi Arabia

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2010: Michael Perry, Herzog subject

2 comments July 1st, 2012 Headsman

It was on this date in 2010 that Texas executed Michael Perry by lethal injection for his part in a triple homicide that netted a cherry-red Camaro.

Perry is the subject of the 2011 Werner Herzog documentary Into the Abyss; being a Herzog film, it comes recommended.

Abyss is “not an issue film; it’s not an activist film against capital punishment,” Herzog has said. “In this particular case, with this very senseless crime, so senseless it’s staggering, what fascinated me was that it points to a decay in family values and the cohesion of society, all these things that looked so big and beyond this case.”

Trailer:

Interview with Herzog:

Full movie, if it remains available:

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Lethal Injection,Murder,Pelf,Ripped from the Headlines,Texas,Theft,USA

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2010: Modise Mokwadi Fly, Botswana pol

1 comment March 24th, 2012 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

On this day in 2010, reggae artist, politician, activist and convicted child killer Modise Mokwadi Fly was hanged in Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone.

He was the second person to be executed under the administration of President Ian Khama; the first was also a child killer.

Fly, a South African national, had been general secretary of the Botswana Congress Party Youth League. On November 27, 2006, he killed his two-year-old son, Tawana Mosinyi, with an ax while the toddler slept. Fly maintained until his death that Tawana’s death was accidental and he’d actually been trying to throw his ax at the police who were firing shots at his house from outside. The prosecution believed Fly deliberately killed his son to spite the child’s mother, whom he’d recently quarreled with.

After his conviction on October 17, 2008, Fly apologized to Tawana’s family for his death. He sentenced to hang five days later, then he waited a year and a half for his date with death. Witnesses reported he seemed oddly cheerful and gregarious in court, smiling and chatting amiably with his friends and relatives who attended the trial.

In February 2010, the month before his execution, Fly made an attempt to escape from prison. He was the first prisoner to succeed in escaping from Botswana’s death row — but he was only free for fifteen minutes. After his capture, it was alleged, he was brutally beaten by the guards and then placed in solitary confinement so no one could see his injuries.

If the prison did in fact do this, it didn’t work: the news of the alleged mistreatment became public on March 23. Whether the timing had anything to do with his secretive execution the next day is unclear. Predictably, Botswana’s Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation denied that the prisoner had been abused or placed in isolation.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Activists,Artists,Botswana,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Murder,Other Voices,Politicians,Ripped from the Headlines

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2010: Paul Warner Powell, jurisprudentially confused

5 comments March 18th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 2010, Paul Warner Powell was electrocuted in Virginia — the last human being, as of this writing, to be put to death by that method, although he is not likely to retain that distinction long-term.

However many might be yet to ride the lightning, it is doubtful that any will usurp this virulent racist’s place on dumbest-criminals lists.

Powell confronted a 16-year-old acquaintance about her relationship with an African-American, and in the altercation that followed our man stabbed Stacie Reed in the heart.

Then the charmer laid in wait in the house for the return of Stacie’s 14-year-old sister, whom he raped and left (so he thought) stabbed to death in the basement. Kristie Reed survived an abdomen wound and a slashed throat.

So far, just a regular malevolent criminal.

But his fate turned on a small legal technicality followed by a monumentally foolish blunder.

Initially death-sentenced for the murder (of Stacie) aggravated by the rape (of Kristie), that sentence was vacated by the Commonwealth’s high court on the grounds that rape could only aggravate the murder into a capital crime if it was the murder victim (Stacie) who was raped. Prosecutors had not shown that.

Erroneously believing this decision to have freed him from any risk of execution thanks to double jeopardy, Powell then proceeded to scribble a lengthy jeering diatribe to his prosecutor “to show you how stupid all of y’all mother fuckers are.”

The entire very profane letter is here. Apart from its intrinsically monstrous narrative, it made this very unwise admission about how things went with the murder victim Stacie:

I told her that all I wanted to do was fuck her and then I would leave and that we could do it the easy way or the hard way.

… she got up and started fighting with me and clawed me face. We wrestled around a little and then I slammed her to the floor. When she hit the floor I sat on top of her and pinned her hands down again. She said she would fuck me and I told her that if she tried fighting with me again, I would kill her.

This freely-confessed attempted rape (it was not consummated — hence the state’s previous inability to charge it) qualified as the exact aggravating factor whose want had just enabled Powell to escape death row. And in fact, prosecutors were able to use it to try Powell for his life once again. This time, they got him — and it stuck.*

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Powell, it turned out, was an energetic correspondent.

Apart from the aforementioned lethal missive, he posted other bigoted mash notes to his prosecutor “Fat Ebert”; he sent menacing taunts to the victims’ mother Lorraine Whoberry; and he even began swapping racy billets-doux with the married forewoman of his first jury who, guilt-stricken at having sent a man to his death, started writing the murderer and wound up falling for him and testifying on his behalf at his second sentencing.

Just a bizarre case all around.

Whoberry, the mother of Stacie and Kristie and the woman whom Powell had crudely harassed by mail from prison, founded the STACIE Foundation to teach compassion for violent crime victims. Whoberry even had some compassion of her own for Powell, eventually forgiving him; the two spoke amicably by phone on the night before Powell’s execution.**

* This raises our periodic reminder to anyone who should come to be of interest in a legal investigation not to talk to the police, period.

However, it is our firm conviction that Executed Today attracts a caliber of reader who intuit the inadvisability of confessing one’s capital crimes in florid written detail.

** Forgiveness or no, Whoberry did continue to support Powell’s execution.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Electrocuted,Execution,Murder,Rape,Ripped from the Headlines,USA,Virginia

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2010: Two Iranian political prisoners

1 comment December 28th, 2011 Headsman

Two politically sensitive cases, otherwise unrelated to one another, were joined in hanging at Iran’s Evin Prison on this day last year, possibly in a tit for tat following the November assassination of a nuclear physicist.

Ali Saremi

Ali Saremi cut the highest profile of the two, a 63-year-old member of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, aka MEK or MKO).

The PMOI/MEK/MKO, originally a Marxist revolutionary group opposing the dictatorship of the Shah, split with the theocratic Iranian Revolution.

It’s led an interesting life since then.

After creating the still-extant National Council of Resistance of Iran, the PMOI set up camp in Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq, which readily deployed it in the Iran-Iraq War.

Camp Ashraf was still there when the U.S. invasion rolled into Baghdad in 2003. (As of this writing, it’s only just now being closed.) While MEK has long been considered a terrorist organization, including by the U.S. State Department,* Iraq’s new occupiers also found this nest of exiles a convenient ally for its own campaign against Iran’s mullahs.

The organization has been much in the news of late both as a bargaining chip in regional diplomacy, and for lavishly bankrolling a lobbying campaign to get off everybody’s official terrorism lists — positioning itself as simply an Iranian opposition group. (It claims to have renounced violence.)

From Tehran, of course, there’s much less gray shading: the MEK is an enemy.

Saremi, a longtime member, was arrested four times for his association with the group.

The first time was in 1976; the last, and ultimately fatal, in 2007. He had just returned from Camp Ashraf to visit his son and commemorate the anniversary of Iran’s late-1980s mass execution of prisoners, an atrocity that claimed a large share of MEK sympathizers in apparent retaliation for the organization’s aforementioned wartime aid to Baghdad.

Saremi got the all-purpose mohareb death sentence — roughly, “waging war against God,” which can potentially compass any resistance to the Islamic Republic — basically for having a going association with PMOI. According to NCRI, Saremi’s prosecutor alleged that

[h]e visited Ashraf and during that he received necessary trainings and returned to the country … and eventually he was arrested in August 2007 for his repeated activities and participation in counter revolutionary ceremonies and gatherings in support of PMOI and dispatching reports to this grouplet (PMOI). During a search in his house some CDs, films, pictures from PMOI and hand written organizational documents linked to the grouplet were found and confiscated.

Iran carried out the execution without notice.**

Ali Saremi’s portrait and memory are now powerful props for the MEK terrorism de-listing campaign.

Ali Akbar Siadati

Also hanged this day was a man named Ali Akbar Siadati, about whom only sketchy information appears to be available.

Siadati was condemned for spying for Israel from 2004 until his arrest in 2008, allegedly supplying Iran’s foe a wide range of sensitive military information — a crime to which Siadati confessed, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Who Siadati was, how he had access to military intelligence, and why (apart from money) he might have betrayed it seems to be publicly obscure.

* In fact, the charge of sheltering MEK — guilty of “terrorist violence against Iran” — even appears on the Bush administration’s justification for war with Iraq.

** Iranian law requires 48 hours’ notice of an imminent execution be given to a defendant’s lawyer. This rule is routinely ignored.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Espionage,Execution,Famous,God,Hanged,History,Iran,Martyrs,Politicians,Power,Ripped from the Headlines,Spies,Treason

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2010: Shahla Jahed, the footballer’s lover

Add comment December 1st, 2011 Headsman

At 5:00 a.m. this date last year, Shahla Jahed was hanged at Iran’s Evin prison for murdering the wife of Iranian footballer Nasser Mohammadkhani.

An international human rights cause celebre from the time of her 2004 conviction in a sordid televised trial, Jahed was also Mohammadkhani’s wife under a “temporary marriage” arrangement that was secret from his “real” wife Laleh Saharkhizan. So you might say, his mistress.

Both these women’s last day of liberty was the one in 2002 that Saharkhizan turned up knifed to death while Mohammadkhani was in Europe on soccer business. Jahed was arrested immediately, beginning a “taboo-breaking” legal odyssey.

After months of refusing to talk, she confessed to the murder in prison, even re-enacting the crime.

But by the time of her trial — in which an emotional, combative Jahed conducted her own defense — she very plausibly claimed that the confession had been extracted by torture. Here’s a bit of it, from the documentary Red Card (banned in Iran) that can be enjoyed in full on YouTube:

While Jahed herself made for can’t-look-away TV, the appearance of a onetime champion athlete in a feet-of-clay turn has led this affair to be compared to the O.J. Simpson murder case.

Like the Juice, Mohammadkhani was temporarily in some danger of death penalty charges himself; he spent several months in prison. Ultimately, he avoided jeopardy to his neck as a potential accessory or instigator by Jahed’s repudiated I-did-it-myself confession — possibly another reason why Jahed confessed in the first place — but the former striker did endure 74 lashes for the revelation that he and his temporary wife enjoyed chilling out with opium. Strictly verboten in Iran, of course.

And Mohammadkhani’s brush with the law scarred his honor even more than his backside. Beyond the possibility that she took the heat for him, the celebrity athlete potentially in a position to use his pull to save a woman’s life clammed up as her case progressed and deferred to his late wife’s family’s decision whether or not to give Jahed mercy. Reportedly, Mohammadkhani even attended the hanging — where Jahed again sobbed and begged for mercy until one of Saharkhizan’s relatives personally kicked the chair out from under Jahed’s feet.

The case itself had an unusually long lifespan in the judiciary; Jahed had been imprisoned well over eight years by the time she died. In 2008, the gears were even stopped by Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, a figure known in Iran for his support of de-escalating capital punishment generally.

Shahroudi’s ordering a new investigation provided fodder for critics like Amnesty International who considered the trial unfair.

Iranian journalist Fereshteh Ghazi, who as a political prisoner in 2004 briefly shared a cell with our principal, made an even stronger critique.

Even if Shahla had committed the crime, which she didn’t, Shahla and the murdered wife are both victims of a male-dominated society, a system that gives all the rights to men. Shahla, Laleh [the murdered wife], and all other women like them are all victims of flaws in the Iranian judicial system and Iran’s unequal judicial system. Even the person who pulled away the chair today in her execution is a victim of the system.

Apropos of the women-in-the-judicial-system theme, Jahed’s case and even her execution were to some extent overshadowed by the simultaneous headline-grabbing matter of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Azeri woman who was at the time fighting a repugnant sentence of stoning for adultery. By December 2010, Iran had backed off the stoning bit without quite agreeing that Ashtiani wouldn’t be executed in some other way; in January 2011, it remitted Astiani’s death sentence altogether.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Iran,Notable for their Victims,Ripped from the Headlines,Scandal,Sex,Torture,Women,Wrongful Executions

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2010: Four in Equatorial Guinea

1 comment August 21st, 2011 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

On this date last year, four Equatorial Guinean men were executed immediately after they were convicted of treason in a military court in the tiny African nation’s capital of Malabo.

The defendants, all former military officers, reportedly confessed to attacking the presidential palace in February 2009, supposedly in an attempt to assassinate the president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Fortunately for him, he wasn’t in residence that day.

The attack had originally been blamed on Nigerian militants; in the aftermath, seven Nigerian men were sentenced to prison for their alleged involvement, and dozens of Nigerian expatriates were expelled from the country.

International observers castigated the trials and executions as not meeting international standards of fairness. This is no surprise, seeing as how Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world.

According to Amnesty International, the four men weren’t even in the country at the time of the attack, having been exiled to Benin some years before. President Obiang’s agents abducted them from Benin in January 2010. Because of the “chilling speed” of the executions, none of the condemned had the opportunity to appeal the verdict and sentences or seek clemency, as Equatorial Guinea’s own law is supposed to provide.

José Abeso Nsue, Manuel Ndong Anseme, Alipio Ndong Asumu and Jacinto Michá Obiang (no apparent relation to his alleged target) were the only Equatorial Guineans known to have faced the death penalty that year.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Assassins,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Equatorial Guinea,Execution,Guest Writers,History,Notable for their Victims,Other Voices,Power,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Soldiers,Treason,Wrongful Executions

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