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This book could not have been produced without the generosity and courage of those whose stories and photographs appear in its pages. I know that it takes great fortitude to face such agonizing memories and to relive such torment, and that is why I wish especially to express my gratitude to Joaquín José Martínez, Ron Keine, Shujaa Graham, Sabrina Butler, Juan Meléndez and all of the Witness to Innocence death row exonerees; to Sakae Menda, Iwao Hakamada, his sister Hideko, and to judge Norimichi Kumamoto; to Oleg Alkaev, who was for years six in command of the executions squad in Belarus, and to the mothers of Andrei Zhuk and Vladislav Kovalev, who were executed; to the death row prisoners of Malawi and to those who have been released; to Sandra Babcock, who allowed me to join her team as another member; to the Iranian lawyers Hussein Raeesi and Mohammad Olyaeifard, and especially to Marina Nemat and the other Iranian juvenile death row convict, who even today cannot reveal his own true name. Both were sentenced to death in Iran, and they are well aware of the risk they run by telling their stories here. I hope my work does justice to their pains and that this book will prove another grain of sand in the battle to win universal abolition of this cruel and inhumane punishment, helping ensure that human rights become stand at the beginning and the end in all societies.

Thanks are also due to Luis Arroyo Zapatero, director of the Instituto de Derecho Penal Europeo e Internacional at the University of Castile-La Mancha in Spain and a founder member of the International Academic Network for the Abolition of Capital Punishment (REPECAP); to Federico Mayor Zaragoza, honorary chair of the International Commission against the Death Penalty and his executive director Asunta Vivó; and to Esteban Beltrán, director of the Spanish section of Amnesty International, and Publio López Mondéjar, a member of Spain’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes and a good friend. I would also like to thank Amnesty International Spain and in particular Miguel Ángel Calderón, María del Pozo and Nacho Montanos, as well as Rosa Esteban, Carlos de las Heras, Carlos Escaño, Manuel Sobrino and Alma Martín; El País Semanal and Álvaro Corcuera, with whom I embarked on this project; Eduardo Sánchez for his assistance with the text, as well as Ana Cañil and Pilar Portero; Alfredo Cáliz and Jorge Alonso; Eduardo Nave, Julio César González and Alicia Moro; Juan Valbuena, who put his publishing house at my disposal from day one; and of course David de la Torre.

A very special thank you also goes to Phyllis Prentice and Nancy Vollertsen, to Leno Rose-Avila and Terry Rumsey, to Kurt Rosenberg, and in general to all of the members and staff of Witness to Innocence. Getting to know Witness changed my life and encouraged me to take up this project. Thanks also to Andrés Krakenberger, Guillermo Abril and Luis Almodóvar, without whom the American chapter would have been much more difficult. I am also grateful to the Jesuit Fr Juan Masiá of the Interfaith Committee against the Death Penalty in Japan for his extensive assistance and generosity, to Sachie Monma and Yumi Matsuda, members of the NGO Save Hakamada, to David T. Johnson, professor of Sociology at the University of Hawaii in Manoa and editor of the Asia-Pacific Journal, and to Tadashi Ando and Mr Hirota, the activists who translated Hakamada’s prison letters. To Matilde Valentín-Gamazo and José Luis Moro, who helped me return to Japan.

Thanks to Mercè Allès, my translator and interpreter in Belarus and Berlin; to Andrei Paluda and Valentín Stefanovich, activist members of Viasna and the International Commission against the Death Penalty.

To Reprieve activists Zhora Block and Katie Campbell, who set a fine example of responsible and effective human rights work. Thank you all! It was an inspiration to me to watch them work. Thanks to Emile Carreau, to the Malawi Human Rights Commission, to the Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (PASI), to Madalyn Wasilczuk, assistant professor with Sandra Babcock at the Cornell University Human Rights Clinic, and to their students Laurel Hopkins, Thalia Gerzso and Harpreet Ahuja; and to Saul Lehrfreund and Parvail Jabbar, executive directors of the Death Penalty Project.

And thanks to Hamid Hosseini, who accompanied me throughout the whole of my investigation in Iran and was my Farsi translator and interpreter, to Raha Bahreini and Madyar Samienejad of Amnesty International, to Hamid Ghassemi and his wife Antonella, to the activists Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam of Iran Human Rights, Shai Sadr, founder and director of Justice for Iran, to Elisabeth Zitrin, to Roya Boroumand, executive director of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, to Banu Saberi, Reinhard Lamsfuss, Nazanin Armanian, Iranian writer and political scientist, to David Etebari of Stop Child Executions, to the journalist Ahmad Rafat, and to everyone else who provided me with assistance and contacts. Thanks to Manuel Martorell, Manolo Espaliú, Elisa Santos, Teresa Iglesias and Miryam Pedrero; to Miguel Moro; to Teresa Moro, to Julie and Joelle Fortier and to their daughters Morgane and Elie; to Amagoia Langara, who was a wonderful host; and to the people at the Réplika Theatre, who allowed me to use their premises for a few hours at a crucial time.

Thanks to everyone from the bottom of my heart.

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