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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

US hopes Malawi gay pardon sends message 'around the globe'

Washington - The White House Saturday said it was "pleased" to hear that a gay couple in Malawi had been pardoned from a long prison sentence and hoped the decision would open new dialogue and send a global message.

In a statement, the White House press secretary was reacting to the decision by Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika to grant the pardon, which came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the country.

The couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, (pictured) had been sentenced to 14 years in prison after they openly celebrated their engagement. Homosexual acts are banned in the southern African country.

"We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe," the White House said.

The White House called for a renewed commitment to "ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Malawian's views on homosexuality are shared by many people in Africa, where gays suffer widespread discrimination, repression and, sometimes, violence.

The parliament of the central African nation of Uganda, where homosexuality is already prohibited, is considering a bill that would increase the penalties for homosexual acts from 14 years in jail to life, or even the death penalty, for some acts.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has described gays as "worse than dogs and pigs."

Source: EarthTimes, May 29, 2010

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