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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…

Indonesia: Paying high drugs price

A SOUTH African was sentenced to life in prison this week after being arrested with R3.5 million worth of tik in Bali last year.

Brett Savage, 44, evaded the death penalty but will spend the rest of his life in jail in Bali.

His mother, Myra Savage from Townsview, Joburg, said last night the family was still taking in the news, as they had been told to expect a lesser sentence. But she said they were devastated at the thought that they would never see him again, as they could not afford the airfare to Bali.

Savage was arrested on October 19 carrying just under 3kg of crystal methamphetamine (tik). Customs officials had reportedly noticed an unusual item in his luggage during a routine X-ray and found the drugs in a suitcase.

He is the second South African this month to be sentenced for drug trafficking in Bali. Last Monday, the Denpasar District Court sentenced 38-year-old Sheilla Motsweneng to 15 years in prison for trafficking 2.5kg of tik.

She was arrested days after Savage was at the Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Under Indonesian law both faced the death penalty.


Source: Cape Argus, May 31, 2012

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