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Appeals court reviews case of last woman executed in Britain.

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Introduction

Appeals court reviews case of last woman executed in Britain Muriel Jakubait, right, the sister of Ruth Ellis, with her grandaughter Tamara Harrington at the High Court, London, Tuesday. A two-day appeal hearing began Tuesday, at the High Court, aimed at quashing the murder conviction and substituting a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of provocation and/or diminished responsibility against Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in Britain. (AP Photo) LONDON (AP) -- The case had all the ingredients to make it one of the country's most memorable: A beautiful blonde nightclub hostess, her dashing race car driver lover and a so-called crime of passion that led Ruth Ellis to become the last woman executed in Britain. On Tuesday, lawyers delved into transcripts from the decades-old trial to argue that Ellis was severely provoked into killing lover David Blakely as he left a London pub in 1955, and that her murder conviction should be overturned. Michael Mansfield, a lawyer acting for Ellis' surviving family, told three senior judges in the Court of Appeal in London that there was a miscarriage of justice at Ellis' original trial because the judge rejected a defense of provocation. Mansfield used testimony from Ellis and others at that trial to paint a picture of the hanged woman as someone who was emotionally and physically abused by her lover. He argued Ellis suffered from what is now characterized as "battered woman syndrome." ...read more.

Middle

"She always said the truth would come out and that is what we have been trying to do," Jakubait said. A medical expert is scheduled to give evidence Wednesday, the second and last day of the hearing. A ruling is to be delivered at a later date. The death penalty is just and humane How can there be so different reactions to the execution of Karla Fay Tucker, a pickaxe murderer? There are arguments for and there are arguments against capital punishment. These arguments are of different types; some are religious, others emotional, judicial or prevention. To start with the religious argument, we should be aware that this is not to be neglected in the American society. The impact from conservative Christians is important and many people try to find answers to all questions in the Bible. The truth is that the Bible favours the death penalty, not only for murder but also for several other crimes. So if religion means anything and if the Bible is still valid, the death penalty has to be maintained. The emotional argument is that the victims and their family have a right to vengeance. That is exactly what Mr Tony Thornton expressed. Why should he be denied the ultimate suffering of a criminal monster that in cold blood had battered his beloved wife to death with an axe? It is easy to understand that his long suffering and mourning need to be released by the murderer's execution. ...read more.

Conclusion

Not even the judicial argument can be supported. Why so? Is it not the legislatures' purpose to decide about laws and punishments? It certainly is. However, it is a fact that the poor and racial minorities are over-represented among the executed. Worse, innocents are sometimes sentenced to death. As long as errors like that can happen, there is no justice in taking a man's or a woman's life. An erroneous prison punishment can be rectified. An executed innocent can never get his life back. Death is definitive. Killing can never be just! To those who maintain the deterrence argument while defending the death penalty, it is important to show that there are no facts supporting the belief that the ultimate punishment should scare anybody not to commit a crime. On the contrary, the statistics show that severe crimes, even murders, are even more frequent in states where the death penalty is practised. (7) It seems that, instead of preventing from killing, the pure fact that society itself kills human beings contributes to a dangerous devaluation of human valour. The effect is that more serious crimes are committed. Britain: Last man hanged was innocent LONDON, Sept. 1996 -- Britain's justice system is about to make a ghastly discovery: James Hanratty, then 25 years old, the last man strung at the gallows in England in 1962, was innocent. The death penalty was abolished in England after Hanratty's execution in London's Wandsworth prison. ...read more.

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