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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…

Gaza crisis: Hamas executes 4 suspected Israeli spies

Public execution of 'collaborators' in Gaza. (File photo)
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, continued with its executions of "collaborators", killing 4 more Palestinians suspected of spying for Israel.

Masked Hamas militants fatally shot the Palestinians in the courtyard of a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp on charges of spying for the enemy yesterday. Hamas-affiliated Al-Majd website quoted security sources as saying that the 4 were executed in a "revolutionary" way after "legal measures were completed".

The website has warned that future collaborators would be dealt with in the field to create deterrence. The Islamist faction declined to release the names or pictures of the executed for the sake of social stability, fearing backlash against their families. The executions raise the total number of Palestinian "suspects" paraded to their deaths to 25; 18 of them were executed on Friday and 3 on Thursday.

Hamas has warned that Israel will "pay the price" for killing 3 top leaders of its military wing - the Qassam Brigades. Earlier, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank, denounced the executions of alleged collaborators, calling them "extrajudicial".

The PA President's office condemned Hamas for failing to abide by existing legal procedures for dealing with the cases. Although collaboration with Israel is punishable by death in the Palestinian legal code, President Mahmoud Abbas has maintained a moratorium on the death penalty since 2005.

Amnesty International called on Hamas to halt the campaign of summary executions of suspected collaborators. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has now reached 2,102, including about 500 children, with more than 10,550 injured during the 47-day conflict. In Israel, 68 people have died.

UN agencies have said that 70 % of those killed in Gaza are civilians, including women and children.

Source: Firstpost.com, August 25, 2014

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