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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 3 Feb 1998

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There are 13 messages totalling 919 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iranian parliamentary speaker opposes US strike on Iraq
2. Egyptian manufacturers to visit Iran
3. Iranian youth pays bride price in oil
4. Tehran "surprised" by Bonn's reaction to trial of German
5. Iranian faces death for spying for East Asian country: report
6. Iranian president says US military build-up in Gulf "an offence"
7. Iran rights record still bad despite Khatami -U.S.
8. A few hours to live
9. Crowds cheer Tucker's execution in carnival atmosphere
10. A humane substitute for the electric chair
11. Marriage will save German's life
12. Khatami's election "a turning point for Sarkuhi"
13. Lahiji urges Khatami to protect writers


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:04:42 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian parliamentary speaker opposes US strike on Iraq

DAMASCUS, Feb 3 (AFP) - Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar
Nateq-Nuri strongly denounced on Tuesday a threatened US military
strike on Iraq, saying it would "insane and illogical."
"We think it would be an insane and illogical action and we are
opposed to any such attack," Nateq-Nuri told reporters shortly after
his arrival on a three-day visit to Syria.
"Negotiations and the application of UN resolutions are the best
way to solve the problem of Iraq," he added.
Nateq-Nuri said that "neither Iran nor Syria can ignore what is
happening in Iraq" and he would raise the current crisis over UN
arms inspections during his talks with Syrian officials.
Syria has also rejected the threatened use of force against Iraq
by the United States and said that other Arab countries share its
Nateq-Nuri will also discuss developing bilateral relations
during his visit here and a series of economic agreements are due to
be signed, according to Iranian diplomatic sources in Damascus.
The speaker of the Iranian parliament is due to travel to
Lebanon after his visit to Syria.


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:05:06 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Egyptian manufacturers to visit Iran

TEHRAN, Feb 2 (AFP) - A delegation of Egyptian manufacturers
will visit Iran February 13-19, the official Iranian news agency
IRNA said Monday.
The Union of Egyptian Manufacturers' representatives will
discuss industrial cooperation in the fields of automobile
production and other heavy industries, pharmaceuticals and textiles,
according to the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines.
Former allies Iran and Egypt, which broke off relations after
Tehran's Islamic revolution, have recently adopted a warmer tone
toward each other.


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:07:48 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian youth pays bride price in oil

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - An Iranian youth paid for his bride with
one metric tonne (2,200 pounds) of vegetable oil, after her father
said his initial offer of 10,000 dollars in gold was not enough, the
Kayhan newspaper said Saturday.
The young man named Hassan first offered 100 gold pieces worth
10,000 dollars, but Fatemeh's father refused and demanded instead
250 four-kilogramme cans of vegetable oil, Kayhan said.
The father explained that in Iran "the price of oil is going to
go up faster than that of gold in coming years," the paper said.


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:08:19 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Tehran "surprised" by Bonn's reaction to trial of German

TEHRAN, Feb 1 (AFP) - The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed on
Sunday that a German national had gone on trial in Iran but declined
to confirm claims by Bonn that he had been sentenced to death.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi confirmed
that German Helmut Hofer had been tried in Iran but did not reveal
the charges against him or the sentence in the case.
Quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA, the spokesman
expressed "surprise" at the reaction of the German government, which
he described as "unjustified."
The German foreign ministry said Friday that a German
businessman identified only as Helmut H., 56, had been sentenced to
death by a Tehran court for having sexual relations with a Moslem
Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Erdmann said the man was
sentenced to death on January 26 for "forbidden relations between a
non-Moslem and a Moslem." He was arrested in Tehran on September 21,
he said.
The German foreign ministry told the Iranian charge d'affaires
in Bonn last week that the German government was "shocked" by the
verdict and that relations between Germany and Iran could be
compromised by the affair.
The German ambassador in Tehran, Horst Baechmann, lodged a
similar protest with the Iranian foreign ministry and has tried to
help the German "intensively" throughout his imprisonment, Erdmann
Mohammadi was quoted by IRNA as saying the trial was held "in a
competent court in accordance with the law." "Given the independence
of the judiciary in Iran, the case is proceeding normally," he
Mohammadi said the German embassy in Tehran and the lawyer for
the defendant had been "informed of developments from the very
He expressed "surprise at the reaction and the statements" of
the German government and said "linking bilateral relations with the
case was unreasonable and unjustified."
The German foreign ministry said meanwhile that a former
economics minister who enjoys close relations with Iran, Juergen
Moellemann, was headed for Tehran and was expected to approach
Iranian officials.
It stressed, however, that Moellemann's trip was not an
"official mission" related to the case but a previously scheduled
The case threatens to sour relations anew between Tehran and
Bonn following a crisis last year over accusations by a Berlin court
that Iranian leaders had ordered the assassination of political
opponents in Germany.
European Union foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on
February 23 to discuss resuming a dialogue with Tehran severed
following the April 1997 verdict by the Berlin court.


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:06:42 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian faces death for spying for East Asian country: report

TEHRAN, Jan 31 (AFP) - An influential former editor of the
English-language daily Iran News, Morteza Firouzi, was sentenced to
death for spying for a country in the Far East, the Iranian
newspaper Ghods reported Saturday.
The conservative newspaper also hinted that Firouzi's death
penalty "would probably be commuted."
Firouzi was charged with spying because of "his ties with a Far
Eastern country," Ghods said, adding that he allegedly admitted he
"frequented this (country's) embassy for political discussions for
In the announcement of the death sentence Tuesday, it was not
indicated which country was involved.
"The special court in charge of the file probably will reduce
the charges after examining them," the paper said, adding that it
was "possible that he could be sentenced to a prison term."
The official news agency IRNA cited a judicial official
Wednesday as saying that the sentence would soon go to the Supreme
Court for approval, in line with Iranian legal procedure.
Firouzi was close to conservative circles, notably parliamentary
speaker Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri, whom the journalist accompanied in
his last trip to Russia last spring.


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:04:15 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian president says US military build-up in Gulf "an offence"

TEHRAN, Feb 3 (AFP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on
Tuesday criticised the powerful US military presence in the Gulf and
called on countries in the region to ensure their own defence.
"The presence of dozens of warships in the Persian Gulf gives
offence to the people of the region," Khatami said in a reference to
the US military build-up in the region over the Iraqi arms crisis.
"The people of the region should themselves assure the security
of the Persian Gulf," he said, the official news agency IRNA
"American political leaders are still living in the Cold War era
and their mistaken policies risk bringing about their isolation," he
Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, on a visit
to Syria, strongly denounced Tuesday a threatened US military strike
on Iraq, saying it would be "insane and illogical."
The United States has stationed 13 warships in the Gulf
including the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS George
Washington. A third carrier, the USS Independence, arrived Monday in
the US Fifth Fleet's zone of operations en route for the Straits of


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:05:38 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran rights record still bad despite Khatami -U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran's human rights record remained
poor last year despite the election of a president committed to
reform and increased openness, the U.S. State Department said
Friday in an annual report.
But the worldwide report acknowledged that the election of
President Mohammad Khatami in May had not been marred by fraud
and had been preceded by a ``lively debate.''
Iran and the United States, bitter foes for nearly two
decades, are engaged in a diplomatic chess game. Khatami, in a
CNN interview on Jan. 7, called for greater people-to-people
contacts with the United States, which has expressed cautious
Friday's report charged that the Iranian government had
committed ``systematic abuses'' of human rights last year
including extrajudicial killings, summary executions,
disappearances and widespread use of torture.
But it said that during the presidential campaign, ``a
lively debate on political, economic and social issues
The election of Khatami, who was opposed by clerical
conservatives in Iran, ``was not disputed and the regime
apparently did not engage in election fraud'', it said.
The State Department issued another damning report on Iraq,
saying there was no improvement in Baghdad's ``extremely poor
human rights record.'' More than 2,000 suspected opponents of
the government were reported killed, it said.
At a news conference, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe
Talbott charged that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was
''exhibit A'' in the argument that repressive regimes threaten
their neighbors and world peace.
The State Department found continuing human rights
violations in Israel and the occupied territories and, as in
past years, blamed both Israeli security forces and the
self-rule Palestinian Authority (PA).
In Israel itself, the report said the Shin Bet security
service ``was responsible for the widespread abuse of
Palestinians suspected of security offenses'' while Israeli
Arabs suffered from ``institutionalized discrimination.''
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there had been ``some
improvements'' but both Israel and the PA carried out ``serious
human rights abuses.''
There were ``credible reports'' that Israeli authorities
abused and tortured Palestinian detainees, while seven detainees
died in Palestinian prisons, two of whom the PA had admitted
were tortured.
In Algeria, scene of a bloody conflict between security
forces and Islamist guerrillas, the State Department quoted
estimates that a total of 70,000 people had died over the past
six years, including 6,000 to 7,000 last year.
It said armed groups were increasingly massacring large
groups of civilians, and that ``questions have been raised about
security forces' indifference to, or complicity in civilian
deaths.'' The security forces had themselves committed serious
human rights abuses, it added.
The report said the government of U.S. ally Saudi Arabia
''commits and tolerates serious human rights abuses'' and that
''freedom of religion does not exist'' in the Muslim kingdom.
Saudi Arabia was listed under ``repressive governments'' along
with China, Burma, Nigeria, Cuba, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Another U.S. ally, Egypt, carried out numerous human rights
abuses ``although the record improved somewhat compared to
recent years,'' assistant secretary of state John Shattuck told
a news conference.


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:35:49 -0600
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi0@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: A few hours to live

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]


"At 5.45pm, after an afternoon of prayer, she will be led
into the small baby blue cell which incongruously serves as
the death chamber. Still dressed in her regulation prison
whites, her ankles, wrists, elbows and neck will be
strapped with pale leather buckles to the only piece of
apparatus in the room, a white sheeted, thin mattress bed.
At 6pm, her right sleeve will be rolled up and her arm
rubbed with disinfectant. Twenty seconds later, it will be
injected with a lethal dose of pancuronium bromide,
potassium chloride and sodium thiopental. Within seconds
her heart will suffer a massive shock and her organs swell,
the drugs poisoning them too severely to make them useful
to anyone else. Shortly afterwards, a prison spokesman will
appear at the gates of Huntsville penitentiary to pronounce
Karla Faye Tucker dead."

The Guardian

A few hours to live

Tonight Karla Faye Tucker is likely to become the first
woman executed in Texas since the American Civil War. Her
crime, a violent double murder committed 14 years ago, was
shocking; but many people including relatives of the
victims feel her repentance is genuine, and Joanna Coles
finds that even in the unforgiving Lone Star state, the
calls for clemency are loud and insistent

Tuesday February 3, 1998

Up to the last moment her case continues to draw support
from unusual quarters. Pat Robertson, the TV evangelist,
surprised even his own followers by calling her an
'extraordinary lady'

It is the details the people of Texas remember most. The
way in which the pickaxe embedded in Deborah Thornton's
chest was stuck so fast it took two policemen, one with his
foot on her corpse, to wrench it free. They remember
another detail too. Nine months later Karla Faye Tucker
told a Houston courtroom that with every swing of the axe
she experienced an orgasm.

Today it is a very different Tucker who will be transferred
from the neat cream cell where she has spent her last 13
years on death row to the Texas death chamber. At 9am a
chorus of prison guards will escort her from the Mountain
View section of Gatesville jail, on her final drive, four
hours due east to Huntsville, the scene of Texan

It is a procedure the state department of corrections has
had on its books since capital punishment was reintroduced
across America in 1976, but has yet to use. Last night the
Texas parole board refused to reprieve her. Tonight,
barring unlikely last minute interventions from the Texas
governor or the President himself, Karla Faye will earn the
dubious distinction of going down in history as the first
woman to be executed in the Lone Star state since the Civil
War. She'll be only the second woman to be executed since
1984 when Velma Barfield, found guilty of poisoning her
lover, died by lethal injection in North Carolina.

At 5.45pm, after an afternoon of prayer, she will be led
into the small baby blue cell which incongruously serves as
the death chamber. Still dressed in her regulation prison
whites, her ankles, wrists, elbows and neck will be
strapped with pale leather buckles to the only piece of
apparatus in the room, a white sheeted, thin mattress bed.
At 6pm, her right sleeve will be rolled up and her arm
rubbed with disinfectant. Twenty seconds later, it will be
injected with a lethal dose of pancuronium bromide,
potassium chloride and sodium thiopental. Within seconds
her heart will suffer a massive shock and her organs swell,
the drugs poisoning them too severely to make them useful
to anyone else. Shortly afterwards, a prison spokesman will
appear at the gates of Huntsville penitentiary to pronounce
Karla Faye Tucker dead.

Her case is riveting Americans and comes second only to
Monica Lewinsky as a topic of barroom conversation. What is
the death penalty for? Do you believe in rehabilitation?
Should a woman be treated differently? Especially a pretty
one? "If it was Karl Tucker instead of Karla I don't think
we'd be having this conversation," says Victor Streib, dean
of Ohio Northern University's college of law. A leading
voice for the 48 women on death row, he adds: "Nobody says
it's because it isn't politically correct, but there is a
gender bias in the system, a double standard for women and

Deborah Thornton was not the only one axed to death on the
evening of June 13, 1983. The previous night she had had a
row with her husband Richard and stomped off to a party
alone. Standing by the stereo, tequila in hand, was a young
man called Jerry Lynn Dean. They got chatting and she ended
up at his place, a small apartment in north-west Houston,
where his Harley-Davidson dominated the living room.

She was still there the following evening, indeed the
couple were still in bed when Dean received two surprise
visitors. One was Tucker, the other was her boyfriend,
Daniel Garrett, and the two of them were out of their
heads. During the previous four days they had indulged in a
frenzy of drug-taking: methadone, heroin, dilaudid valium,
placidyls, wygesics, percodan, somas and mandrax - in
addition, of course, to their staple diet of marijuana,
tequila and rum.

Tucker started ranting. She was furious. Dean had spilled
motorcycle grease on her carpet during a recent visit.
Seizing the pickaxe propped in the corner, which the young
man used for his work as a cable fitter, she started
hitting him over and over again. By the time she was
finished, his white body was sprawled across the floor,
still leaking blood and peppered with 24 holes.

That's when they found Thornton. She was cowering under a
sheet in the next room and, as Tucker later recalled, she
begged them to let her go. By the time Garrett had seized
the axe and started raining blows upon her skull, she was
begging again, this time for them to kill her quickly. Just
do it, she whimpered. It took them an hour.

It took the jury an hour and 10 minutes to decide Tucker
was guilty, a fact she had initially denied. In the months
between her arrest and trial however, something unexpected
happened to prisoner 777. Holed up in jail, she stole a
bible from an inmate and started reading. "I began crying
that night, for the first night in many years. I realised
for the first time what I had actually done," she says. "I
remembered the details of my crime, I felt the pain I had
inflicted on others. I realised the depth of sin and evil
and violence I was in."

Something else happened too. For the first time since she
was eight years old and her mother started rolling her
joints, she weaned herself off drugs. "Everyone sees Jesus
at the jailhouse," remarks Sergeant M B Rankin, a relief
officer once stationed at Gatesville. "But this woman isn't
just talking. She is genuine. She shouldn't die." No one,
least of all Tucker, doubts she committed a terrible crime.
But few doubt, either, the depth of her remorse. Indeed,
the case of Karla Faye Tucker appears to be a textbook
example of redemption. Once a drug-addled prostitute, whose
mother farmed her out from the age of 10, for the past 13
years she has been an unwavering Christian, using her
experience to try to deter others from following the same

"She may be the same physical person she was when the case
was tried, but she is certainly not the same person," says
her lawyer, David Botsford. "She is totally rehabilitated
and her prison record supports that. Her death would not
serve any purpose other than pure capital vengeance." This
unsettling thought is now unnerving even the staunchest
supporters of the death penalty - and Texans are stauncher
than most. Huntsville is regarded as the execution capital
of America. Thirty-seven men were fatally injected last
year, more than a third of the national total. They say
Texans are so hard that if you sow nails in the soil, you
will reap a crop of crowbars.

Confident that a tough approach to law and order will see
him back in office again, Governor George W Bush, son of
the former president, has yet to delay an execution or
grant clemency. Later this year he faces re-election and
hankers after his own spell in the Oval Office. Why go soft
now? Or would a last-minute stay reflect a chivalrous
compassion, earning him support outside Texas come the
Republican primaries? "I don't think gender is important,"
he says firmly. "It's irrelevant." "The governor asks two
questions in every death penalty case," adds an aide. "Is
there any question about the guilt of the individual, and
have the courts had adequate opportunity to review all the
legal issues involved?" To which the answers are
respectively no and yes. Tucker's chances are not good.

Yet right up to the last moment her case continues to draw
support from unusual quarters, splitting the religious
right and pitting believer against politician. Pat
Robertson, the TV evangelist and one-time presidential
wannabe, surprised even his own followers by calling her an
"extraordinary lady" whose "authentic spiritual conversion"
cries out for mercy. Like many anxiously debating Tucker's
future, he is demanding her sentence be commuted to life
imprisonment, earning him an unlikely place alongside
Bianca Jagger, sporting her Amnesty beret. Local residents
in Huntsville have joined in too, many disturbed by their
town's notoriety and impressed by meeting Tucker in their
prison volunteer work.

Most persuasive of all, perhaps, is the support from Peggy
Kurtz, Dean's sister, and Ronald Carlson, Thornton's
brother, who both insist they have forgiven her. "I don't
believe a human being has the right to take the life of
another," murmured Carlson yesterday, adding that his
decision to forgive Tucker had helped his own process of

For her own part, Tucker has told friends and reporters
that she is not frightened to die. "You have to understand,
her conversion is absolute and genuine," says her friend
Beverley Lowry, who visited her yesterday and whose
bestseller, Crossed Over, was based on Tucker's story.
"This is not an overnight sensation." "I'm not afraid,"
says Tucker from behind the prison plexiglass.

Wholesome and attractive, her swathes of curls a dark
contrast to the prison cotton, she appears serene. "It's
all up to Him," she says, raising her eyes heavenwards.
"He'll touch whoever he needs to if he wants to stop it. I
leave it in God's hands." Back in 1863, Chipita Rodriguez
was less sanguine. The manager of an inn on the southern
Texas border between Refugio and San Patricio, she was
accused of killing one of her customers, a horsetrader
named John Savage. He was found floating down the nearby
Aransas River, his head split open with a broad axe. Oddly,
the killer stole his horse but tossed away the saddlebag
containing $600 in gold.

Rodriguez's trial lasted two days, throughout which she
protested her innocence. The two-page, hand- written court
report now available to tourists wandering through Slinton
reflects that the jury believed she didn't kill him but was
probably covering up for her illegitimate son.

They found her guilty anyway and one month later she was
hanged from a mesquite tree: the first and only woman in
Texas to be executed so far. They say you can see her still
on foggy nights, moaning as she wanders the mesquite grove,
the hangman's noose around her neck. In 1985 the Texas
legislator granted her 'symbolic redress' and cleared her

Tucker does not want her name cleared, she just wants
another chance. Married two years ago to a prison chaplain
- his visits restricted by plastic screens - she stresses
the importance of her voluntary work. "I can't take back
the lives I took, but I can help save lives now," she says
calmly. "I can be part of the solution."

Copyright Guardian Media Group plc 1998

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====----------------------- Search, Read, Post to Usenet


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:36:16 -0600
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi0@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Crowds cheer Tucker's execution in carnival atmosphere

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]


Crowds cheer Tucker's execution

Karla Faye Tucker's execution brought those for and against
the death penalty together outside the jail

The State of Texas has executed Karla Faye Tucker for the
two brutal murders she committed 15 years ago.

Two last-minute appeals to the US Supreme Court in
Washington delayed her death but did not stop it.

The crowd of around 300 outside the jail cheered when the
court's decision was announced and again when they were
told Tucker had died.

A large video screen played clips of Tucker's life as they
waited for the news and a carnival-type atmosphere
prevailed outside the prison.

Witnesses to the administration of the lethal injection
said Tucker had given a short statement before she died.

"I'm so sorry," she said. "I'm going to be faced with Jesus
now ... I love all of you very much. I will see you when
you get there, I'll wait for you there."

The whole process took four minutes, witnesses said. Tucker
coughed twice shortly after being given the injection, then
went silent.

A release by prison authorities said Tucker wept "for the
first time" on Tuesday after saying a prayer with her
husband, Dana Brown, whom she married by proxy by two years

The couple were not permitted to hug because of state
regulations but they put their hands either side of a
screen that separated them.

Tucker's final meal was said to be fruit and salad. A
doctor at the execution confirmed she was dead at 0045 GMT
(6.45pm local time).

The witnesses at her execution included her husband and the
brother of one of her murder victims, Ronald Carlson, who
had publicly forgiven her and campaigned for a reduction in
her sentence.

But after Tucker's death, Richard Thornton, the father of
the other victim, said: "The world's a better place."

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had rejected another
attempt by the 38-year-old's lawyers to obtain clemency for
their client.

Tucker admitted killing her victims with a pickaxe and even
said shortly afterwards she had enjoyed doing so.

But her gender combined with her conversion to Christianity
sparked a coalition including women's groups and right-wing
religious organisations that attempted to save her life.

She has become the first woman to be killed by Texas since
1863 in a state that put to death 47 men last year.

Demonstrations outside the Walls Unit in Huntsville, near
Houston, and at the Supreme Court pitted supporters of the
death penalty against those in favour of its abolition.

But for many who had previously back capital punishment,
the case threw up new concerns and increased consciousness
worldwide about the issue.

The Texan Governor, George Bush, was not among them. After
the intended 2400 GMT deadline for the execution had
already passed, he confirmed he would not take up his
option of intervening.

"I will not grant a stay. May God bless Karla Faye Tucker
and may God bless her victims' families," he said.

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that states could
choose to re-introduce the death penalty, only one woman
has been put to death.

Velma Barfield, 52, of North Carolina, was executed for
poisoning four people, including her fiance and mother.

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====----------------------- Search, Read, Post to Usenet


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:37:01 -0600
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi0@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: A humane substitute for the electric chair

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]

The Independent
February 4, 1998

Paul Vallely - So Texas thinks this is a humane substitute
for the electric chair?

Blue is the colour of death in Huntsville, Texas. Pale
blue. I know because I have been inside the chamber in
which the lethal injection is administered. Indeed I have
leaned against the padded metal gurney to which Karla Faye
Tucker was last night due to be strapped. I looked up.
Overhead was a neon light and the ceiling of powder blue.
Such is the final earthly sight of the condemned prisoner.
"A psychologist suggested that colour," the assistant
warden told me. "It is very relaxing." It minimises the
urge to struggle, apparently.

The gurney is the only piece of furniture in the death
chamber in the Walls Unit of the Texas Department of
Corrections prison. To the side is a window like that of
the control booth in a TV studio. Karla Tucker nominated
five people to watch her die from behind the thick plate
glass, the maximum number of personal witnesses allowed.
Three relatives of her victims also asked to be present.

But there is another room, hidden from the view of the
condemned individual. It houses the equipment from which
the fatal cocktail is administered by an official who
cannot see the person the state has decided to kill. Three
tubes feed into a single catheter which passes through the
wall and to the gurney. Along it passes pavulon (a muscle
relaxant), sodium thiopental (the lethal poison) and
potassium chloride (which stops the heart dead). "If you
don't get the balance right," the assistant governor told
me, "he would kick like a horse".

It was "he" in those days. Executions are a pretty routine
thing in Texas. But they were all men. Karla Faye Tucker is
the first woman to be executed there since the American
Civil War. "I don't like doing it, but it is a part of my
job," said the man responsible for the protocol of the
executions as he outlined the rules on who is allowed to
visit in the Death Cell and on the convict's last shower,
change of clothes and final meal. Karla Tucker, we are
told, requested a banana, peaches and a tossed salad. Very

There is a ghastly irony about so much to do with the
execution process. Apart from the thick broad straps of
fawn leather by the metal bed, the atmosphere in the
chamber is medical. There is a strap to wrap around the
condemned arm just like the one the doctor uses when you
have a blood sample taken. And before the deadly needle is
inserted, the arm is thoughtfully swabbed with
disinfectant. The person who inserts the needle in the arm
is not the same one who then activates the plunger, so that
responsibility is shared, just as with a firing squad some
soldiers are given blanks. No doctors are involved in the
act (though one is on hand to certify death) and yet there
seems about the process an unnatural and rather wilful
inversion of the Hippocratic Oath, much as there is in
satanic parodies of Christian worship. In this atmosphere
the cold courtesy of the prison officials seemed to me to
be chilling.

All this was some years ago. I had gone to Huntsville not
long after Texas abandoned death by electrocution for the
"more humane" injection. Just down the road from the
redbrick jail, I met Sam Gilstrap, who for 26 years had
been the master mechanic for the electric chair until the
new technology made him redundant. His contempt for the
lethal injection was almost palpable.

"If a man is sentenced to death, he ought to have something
to fear rather than a needle which lets him go to sleep.
When you kick that motor on and you hear it moan - well,
that gets him a little upset," said the grizzled old
executioner over coffee at a small-town diner where the
tables were covered in red-checked gingham. I recalled the
story that a former head of the Texas prison service had
told me. "I had to supervise 14 executions," Dr George Beto
had said. "The worst was that of a black man who sang
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" as he walked from the cell to
the chamber. I couldn't see him at first, I could just hear
him coming along the hall. Even today that song makes my
flesh creep." But Sam Gilstrap had taken part in 125
executions. At night, he said, he slept well enough.

I returned to the jail and Death Row where I had arranged
to interview the next man to be executed, Carlos De Luna.
He was a 24-year-old who had been convicted of stabbing to
death a petrol station attendant in the town of Corpus
Christi, in southern Texas, three years before. All along
he maintained his innocence, but few people believed him.

Looking into the eyes of a man who is condemned to die it
is hard to resist the temptation to make a judgement. The
young Hispanic convict sat in a metal cage and peered
through a slot of thick reinforced glass. For some reason
throughout the interview I was seized with the compulsion
that I had to decide whether I believed him. "The courts
should stop playing these games. If one of us kidnapped
someone and locked them up for ten years and told them
every day that they were to be killed, people would say it
was a barbaric crime, but for the state it is legal. It is
like abortion; it is the very same people who are against
killing babies who are in favour of killing me," he said.

It was, I remember thinking at the time, not a diatribe so
much as an expression of bewilderment. "The reason I agreed
to talk to you was so people can see that I have feelings
too, that I'm not an animal. This is a human being
speaking. Is it right to do this?"

All at once I was overcome with the certainty that he was
guilty. And yet, at the same time, I knew his guilt was a
matter of utter irrelevance in the face of what was about
to happen. He was one of 250 men and three women on Death
Row. They were not the only murderers in the jail, and
indeed many of those not under sentence of death had
committed crimes far more heinous. But they had lost in the
legal lottery in a state where 90 per cent of cases are
settled by plea bargaining in which the accused accepts a
lighter sentence in return for a guilty plea. It was the
poor, the simple and the inept who ended up on Death Row,
the ones who couldn't afford a decent lawyer.

If only Karla Tucker had had one she might have been able
to transform her case into a gender issue earlier, just as
O J Simpson turned his trial into one about race and Louise
Woodward's became one about whether mothers should go out
to work. Had Tucker harnessed at a much earlier stage the
support which has mushroomed from born-again Christians
(after her conversion), anti-death penalty liberals and
most latterly women's groups, it might have been a
different story. But for Karla Tucker fame, it seems, came
a little too late.

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====----------------------- Search, Read, Post to Usenet


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:37:20 -0600
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi0@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Marriage will save German's life

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]

Iran Paper Calls for Convicted German's Execution

Reuters 03-FEB-98

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A conservative Iranian newspaper Tuesday
called for the execution of a German businessman condemned
to death in Iran for having sexual relations with a Muslim

``There is enough evidence proving the guilt of this German
citizen and this criminal should be executed under Iran's
laws,'' said the daily Resalat, which is close to
conservative clerics and merchants.

``We hope that...threats by Western officials and a few
so-called human rights circles will not lead to justice
being trampled in Iran,'' the newspaper said.

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said Sunday that he
and the Bonn government were shocked by the Tehran court
ruling last week against 56-year-old Hamburg businessman
Helmut Hofer.

He urged Iran to free the man and said bilateral ties would
be damaged if the sentence were carried out.

Iran said any attempt to link relations to the death
sentence was illogical, and said the verdict complied with
valid Islamic legal procedures.

``Western governments, and particularly Germany, have
become insolent, and so have foreigners who lightly break
Iran's laws. We should carry out our Islamic laws to
prevent this from continuing,'' the newspaper said.

Under Iran's Islamic laws, a non-Muslim man having sex with
a Muslim woman outside of wedlock faces the death penalty.
German media have said the woman was sentenced to 99

Iran's media have not reported the details of the case and
it was not clear whether the Supreme Court had upheld the
death sentence.

German media quoted Hofer's attorney as saying he had
fallen in love with an unmarried 27-year-old Iranian
medical student while on a business trip to the
northeastern city of Mashhad. The two had only kissed once,
the lawyer said.

Iranian lawyers said the sentence could be quashed if the
two agreed to marry, which would usually require the German
to convert to Islam first.

Relations between Germany and Iran have been improving
since they were plunged into crisis in April by a Berlin
court verdict that Iran had ordered the killing of four
Kurdish dissidents shot in a Berlin restaurant in 1992.

Iran condemned the verdict and denied it was involved in
terrorism. ^REUTERS@ Reut16:26 02-03-98 SLUG:

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.All rights reserved.

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Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:37:44 -0600
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi0@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Khatami's election "a turning point for Sarkuhi"

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]

Iran Daily (IRNA)
February 3, 1998

What's Up?

The period of the jailed Iranian journalist Faraj Sarkuhi's
deten-tion coincided with the developments that occurred in
the Iranian society, noted the Thursday edition of the
German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine. According to the
daily, Sarkuhi con-firmed the news of his release in a
telephonic conversation with his wife in Berlin last
Wednesday. But he told her that his passport and other
personal documents are still in the hands of the Iranian
officials, wrote the Allgemeine. The daily said the process
which has led to the release of Sarkuhi should continue so
that Iranian intellectuals would feel secure and do not
face his ordeal. The victory of President Mohammad Khatami
was a turning point for Sarkuhi, the daily said.

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====----------------------- Search, Read, Post to Usenet


Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:38:04 -0600
From: Arash Alavi <aalavi0@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Lahiji urges Khatami to protect writers

[This is a courtesy copy of an article posted to Usenet via Deja News]

Iran Daily (IRNA)
February 3, 1998

What's Up?

Whenever there are news of a relative improvement of
con-ditions in Iran, we also hear disappointing events
simulta-neously, an Iranian lawyer told the France radio
Friday. On recent news of the death sentence passed on
Morteza Firoozi chief editor of the English-language daily
Iran News, Abdol-Karim Lahiji said that Tehran had not
reported the court ruling. We should take steps to save
Firoozi's life, said Lahiji who was introduced by the radio
as the deputy director of the International Human Rights
Federation. We decided to be indifferent to the release of
Faraj Sarkuhi, he said, but with the incoming news on the
pending capital punishment of Firoozi, we noticed that
there has been no real improvement in the condition of the
journalists. He urged President Khatami to question the
ministry of culture and Islamic guidance on its activities
over such cases. According to the radio, Amnesty
International has also voiced its concern over Firoozi's
case. The watch group called for explanations by Iranian
authorities last October but received no response, said the
France radio.

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 3 Feb 1998