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…

Saudi man spared paralysis sentence

Sentence dropped after family accepted 1m riyals in compensation

Riyadh: A Saudi man escaped a sentence of paralysis for stabbing and paralysing another man by offering him compensation, media reported on Sunday, although the authorities have denied issuing the punishment.

The sentence was dropped after the family of Mohammad Al Hazim, 26, accepted one million riyals (Dh991,440) in compensation from the family of convicted Ali Khawahir, 24, Al Watan daily reported.

A court in the eastern city of Al Ahsa had registered a waiver by the plaintiff’s family, and will now proceed with the release of Khawahir, who has already spent 10 years in jail.

Last month Amnesty International said Khawahir had reportedly been sentenced to qisas, or retribution, and could be paralysed from the waist down if he failed to pay compensation.

The London-based human rights watchdog said Khawahir had stabbed a friend in the back in 2003, and paralysed him. Khawahir was 14 years old at the time.

But the Saudi justice ministry categorically denied the court had passed the verdict, saying on Twitter the judge had dismissed demands for the sentence.

"A ministry spokesman also told AFP reports of the sentence were “false.”

Amnesty said a Saudi court had passed another sentence of paralysis in 2010, but it was unclear if it had been carried out.

Source: Gulf News, May 19, 2013

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