Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Lankan maid on Saudi death row hangs on for hope of life

We are waiting for the green signal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Embassy in Sri Lanka to tell us what would be final verdict of Rizana Nafeek who killed a Saudi child while she was a domestic maid in Saudi Arabia in 2007,” Sri Lanka’s Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Chairman Amal Senalankadhikara told Emirates 24|7.

The maid is currently in jail where she has been for the past seven years after her conviction.

“So far we have not get any news from the Saudi embassy here,” he said.

When asked about Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem who has spoken to the Saudi ambassador in Sri Lanka regarding Rizana, the chairman said, “Yes I heard, but we are not 100% sure as the embassy has not announced about her release.”

He added, “The parents of the girl have approached us, the embassy and the justice ministry and we have inquired several times, but yet we have not got a positive answer.”

“We don’t know how the minister handled it, but we have not been informed of any progress on the matter as yet from the Saudi embassy in Sri Lanka.”

“The SLBFE, the Saudi embassy, Western Province Governor Alawi Moulana and the Justice Minister took up the matter several times.

“It seems the husband is willing to pardon Rizana but the mother of the child who was killed by Rizana is not. So there are issues pertaining to these matters and the embassy should bring us the good news about Rizana future.”

The Daily Mirror reported last week that the Saudi Arabia Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Jammaz, had said to Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem that according to information received by the ambassador, Rizana Nafeek who is presently on death row in Saudi Arabia would be pardoned and could return to the island, in consideration of a request made to the Saudi King by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Source: Emirates247, January 6, 2013

The imminent danger of the execution of Rizana Nafeek

According to the news received from Saudi Arabia Rizana Nafeek, who has been the Dawadami Prison since 2005 may be executed at any moment. This was revealed to the BBC Sinhala Service by Dr. Kifaya Iftekhar, who is based in Saudi Arabia and who has been looking after the interests of Rizana for several years now. Dr. Iftekhar also said that the Sri Lankan government has been informed by the Saudi authorities of the possibility of her impending execution.

For several months now the Sri Lankan government has been reporting that moves are underway for Rizana's release and that this may happen at any time. However, it appears that these announcements were made only to appease the strong expressions of concern by the Sri Lankan and international community's who are calling for her release. The government has not been able to conduct diplomatic negotiations with the family on the deceased infant that has the power to grant pardon. Such pardon is usually granted either on the payment of blood money or without such payment by the generosity of the family.

Dr. Iftekhar told the BBC Sinhala Service that there is still room for assisting Rizana Nafeek and saving her life.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has campaigned for Rizana's release since 2007 when her case was brought to the notice of the world. A vast movement arose within Sri Lanka to demand her release and there was also massive support for her release from the human rights community and particularly from women's movements. Many signature campaigns were conducted on her behalf and websites opened by various concerned groups to rally support for her.

The Asian Human Rights Commission once again calls upon everyone to intervene and write to the Saudi authorities urging them to grant Rizana pardon.

We once again call upon the president of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan authorities to take effective action to conduct negotiations and also to renew diplomatic efforts to save her.

Source: Asian Human Rights Commission, January 6, 2013

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