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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…

Iraq announces 21 executions in one day

IRAQ has executed 21 people convicted of terror-related charges, including three women, on the same day, bringing to 91 the number of people executed so far this year.

The executions come despite a call from the UN's human rights chief for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iraq, amid concerns over the lack of transparency in court proceedings.

"The justice ministry carried out 21 executions against those condemned of terrorist charges, including three women terrorists," justice ministry spokesman Haidar al-Saadi said in a text message. He did not give any further details.

A justice ministry official said the executions were carried out on Monday morning.

Iraq has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were executed on January 31.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed shock earlier this year at the number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.

"Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day," she said in January.

Pillay voiced concern over a "lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq."

In June, Amnesty International also condemned the "alarming" increase in executions in Iraq.

Source: AAP, August 28, 2012

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