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…

Indonesia: Executions near as Supreme Court rejects petition

Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui
and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, (bottom row) Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami,
Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, and Nigerian Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise.
Attorney General M. Prasetyo praised the Supreme Court’s (MA) decision to reject a second case review petition filed by Philippines national Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, adding that the decision helps clear the way for the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to carry out a second batch of executions.

Prasetyo said that the AGO would announce the date of the executions after the Supreme Court issued rulings on two other case-review petitions filed by two other drug convicts; Serge Areski Atlaoui of France and Martin Anderson alias Belo of Ghana.

Atlaoui is currently challenging his death penalty verdict, which stems from a November 2005 arrest where he was found in possession of 138.6 kilograms of methamphetamine, 290 kg of ketamine and 316 drums of drug-making ingredients at a factory in Cikande, Tangerang, Banten. Anderson was sentenced to death after being arrested with 50 grams of heroin in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta, in November 2003.

“From the very beginning we were prepared to conduct the executions, but we also must respect the legal process. The executions will be conducted as soon as we hear the result of the legal process of [the two other convicts],” Prasetyo said on Thursday.

Prasetyo added he hoped both appeals would be rejected so the AGO could proceed with the executions.

“I think the Supreme Court has the same spirit as us and we have to appreciate what it has ruled [on Veloso],” Prasetyo added.

Separately, Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi confirmed the rejection of Veloso’s case-review petition, saying the panel of three justices — comprising Timur Manurung, Andi Samsan Nganro and Mohammad Saleh — ruled Wednesday that Veloso’s petition failed to meet the requirements for a case review as stipulated in the Criminal Code (KUHP).

“The arguments [of the bench] are that the petition failed to meet requirements for a case review,” Suhadi said on Thursday.

Veloso was sentenced to death after she was found guilty of attempting to conceal 2.6 kg of heroin at Adisucipto International Airport in April 2010 in Yogyakarta.

Veloso, Anderson and Atlaoui are three of 10 convicts who are set to be executed in the near future on the isolated Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap, Central Java.

The other drug convicts facing imminent executions are Bali Nine duo Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of Australia, Rodrigo Gularte of Brazil, Zainal Abidin of Indonesia and Raheem Agbaje Salami of Nigeria. Also slated to be executed are three convicted murderers of Indonesian nationality: Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar, Harun bin Ajis and Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has reportedly declined multiple phone calls from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has very publicly pleaded with Jokowi to spare the lives of Sukumaran and Chan.

Abbott told reporters on March 5 he made such an appeal to Jokowi by phone and had been unsuccessful.

Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema on Thursday brushed off intimations of a kind of snub.

“The President was too busy,” the AP quoted the ambassador as telling reporters in the Australian capital of Canberra.

“Because, as you know, the President’s first priority is his own people, to the provinces. Not only in Java, in Kalimantan or Sumatra, but also in Papua. So he is making a lot of trips,” he said.

“I’ve certainly put in a request because the government and the people of Indonesia need to know that this is important to us,” Abbott said in early March.

Source: The Jakarta Post, March 27, 2015

Failed death row appeal 'good news' for Bali pair: Jakarta

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso
The failure of a death row Filipina to win a judicial review of her controversial case is "good news", says an Indonesian official organising her execution and those of two Australians.

Bali Nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan await their fate on Nusakambangan island while Jakarta observes the final legal appeals of some of the 10 drug offenders it wishes to put to death at the same time.

To hasten the process, Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo has ordered the Supreme Court to fast-track the cases of those who have applied for last-minute judicial reviews.

Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso's case has been rejected after a matter of days.

It usually takes three months to consider such applications but Veloso's was distributed to three judges on March 20 and rejected on Wednesday.

The attorney-general's spokesman Tony Spontana said on Friday this was "good news".

"It's in accordance to our hopes and understanding that the judicial review would be rejected," he told reporters.

He was pleased the court had dispensed with her bid quickly and found no evidence to support a review.

"Certainly Mary Jane is finished with her process," he said.

Veloso was considered to have a good chance for a review and it was thought this would delay the executions of all 10 prisoners for some months.

The 30-year-old single mother says she thought she was coming to Indonesia in 2010 for a job as a maid and didn't know there was heroin in her suitcase.

She did not finish high school, speaks only Tagalog and did not have a qualified translator to explain proceedings at her trial.

Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi denies judges have been pressured by Mr Prasetyo's negotiations to ensure the fastest turnaround of the judicial review applications.

Veloso's was handled particularly quickly because the lead judge had a light caseload, he said.

"We know each other's duties and they're not intervening," he told AAP.

"If there's been co-ordination, the manner is more non-judicial."

A further two prisoners - Frenchman Serge Atlaoui and Ghanian Martin Anderson - are seeking judicial reviews.

Chan and Sukumaran have an appeal in the administrative court, that if won, would see their lawyers argue the blanket rejection of clemency did not follow due process.

President Joko Widodo is denying clemency to all death row drug offenders, regardless of rehabilitation or other factors, believing it will shock Indonesia out of its drug problem.

An expert witness for Chan and Sukumaran's defence could not attend court on Wednesday and was re-scheduled for Monday.

Source: AAP, March 27, 2015

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