India stays executions of ‘bandit king’ accomplices until final appeal

Updated 18 February 2013
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India stays executions of ‘bandit king’ accomplices until final appeal

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court yesterday delayed the execution of four death-row convicts until it hears an appeal later in the week as rights groups voiced growing concern over recent hangings in the country.
The Supreme Court said it would hear a plea tomorrow from the four accomplices of slain “bandit king” Veerappan, who were sentenced to death in 2004 for their role in a land mine blast in southern India that killed 22 policemen.
“In the meantime the execution of the death sentence of the four convicts shall remain stayed,” the Supreme Court said.
Colin Gonsalves, the men’s lawyer, said he was seeking to have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment “for the mental distress they have suffered during the inordinate eight-year delay in deciding on their mercy plea.”
The court’s ruling could be a precedent-setting decision for many other inmates who have been lingering on death row for years, lawyers said.
President Pranab Mukherjee last week rejected the mercy plea of the four men being held in Belgaum jail in Karnataka state.
Executions in India are only carried out in “rarest of rare” cases. But Mukherjee, recently elected president, has rejected a number of mercy pleas in the last few months, ending an informal eight-year moratorium on executions.
“This government has executed more people since November 2012 than in the previous 10 years. To continue such a regressive trend would be truly shameful,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India.
Earlier this month Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted of involvement in a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, was executed in New Delhi, triggering angry protests in the disputed region of Indian Kashmir. The lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pakistani-born Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was hanged last November in India’s first execution since 2004.
Veerappan, accused of over 100 killings, was killed in a police ambush in 2004 after evading capture for decades. He was believed to have amassed a vast fortune from elephant poaching, sandalwood smuggling and kidnappings.


Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

Updated 22 April 2018
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Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the suspect came and stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.