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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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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…

Hamas 'to publicly execute two men in Gaza'

Amnesty calls for Gaza's ruling party to halt 'inhuman and degrading' executions it says will be carried out next week.

Hamas is planning to publicly execute two prisoners in Gaza as a "lesson" to others next week, according to the human rights organisation Amnesty International, which has described the move as deeply disturbing.

A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to death for "collaboration with an enemy entity". He told his lawyer he had been beaten during interrogation, Amnesty reported.

An appeal at a military court is scheduled for Wednesday but he will be at risk of imminent execution if it is unsuccessful.

The second man, aged 27, confessed to the rape and murder of a six-year-old boy in 2000. He was sentenced to death despite being a minor at the time. According to Amnesty, he was "apparently tortured to 'confess'" to the crime.

The pair are among 40 prisoners on death row in Gaza. The most recent executions, of two men convicted of collaborating, took place in June at a police compound. One of them reportedly confessed after being tortured, according to Amnesty.

"Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in the custody of Hamas security agencies are widespread and systematic," it added.

Philip Luther, the organisation's Middle East and north Africa director, called on Hamas to immediately halt imminent executions and commute all death sentences.

"This and other recent announcements by the Hamas authorities that they will carry out further executions are deeply disturbing," he said.

"The death penalty is cruel and inhuman and there is no evidence that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments. Public executions are degrading and compound the cruelty of the death penalty."

Hamas has carried out at least 16 executions since April 2010, according to Amnesty. Six suspected collaborators were shot dead in the street by masked gunmen shortly before the end of the war in Gaza last November.

Source: The Guardian, August 9, 2013

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