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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…

Brunei introduces stoning, flogging, amputation among new sharia punishments

Public flogging in Iran,
another Sharia country
The Sultan of Brunei has announced tough new Islamic punishments as part of a new sharia penal code.

The punishments, which would only apply to Muslims, include death by stoning for adultery, flogging for drinking alcohol, and severing of limbs for theft.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said the new laws would be enforced from April next year.

"It is because of our need that Allah the almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilise them to obtain justice," the monarch said.

The oil-rich kingdom has been working for several years to introduce the new code.

The 67-year-old sultan has presided over a shift to more conservative Islam and anti-sedition laws in recent years, and said sharia criminal law should be established to work alongside the country's civil law more prominently.

Brunei already enforces Islamic teachings more sternly than its neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia.

Evangelism of other religions and the sale of alcohol is strictly forbidden.

"Brunei is showing its feudal characteristics as an 18th-century state rather than an important member of a regional South East Asian economic and social consensus in the 21st century," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The kingdom, with a population of just over 400,000, has been ruled by the monarchy for six centuries.

Sources: AFP/Reuters, October 22, 2013

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