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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…

Bali Nine clemency deal ignored

Myuran Sukumaran's final painting
Indonesia's flag: one of Myuran Sukumaran's final painting (more here)
The Indonesian President's chief political rival promised to publicly support Joko Widodo if he granted clemency to Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The West Australian can reveal that military strongman Prabowo Subianto twice privately assured Mr Joko there would be no political consequences if Chan, Sukumaran and eight others on death row were reprieved.

Mr Prabowo's extraordinary behind-the-scenes intervention would have given the President face-saving political cover to spare the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.

It is understood that Mr Prabowo penned a letter to Mr Joko at the weekend in which he said that if the President were to "postpone the executions indefinitely", he would come out in support of the decision.

Mr Joko, under pressure from his political patron, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, ignored the offer and the two Australians were killed by firing squad on Wednesday, along with four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian.

Two people, a Frenchman and a Filipina woman, got late reprieves. Chan and Sukumaran's bodies were expected to be flown back to Australia today or tomorrow.

As reported by The West Australian in March, Australian diplomats sought Mr Prabowo's help to save Chan and Sukumaran, believing the former general could engineer a change of heart.

Mr Prabowo, the son-in-law of former dictator Suharto, narrowly lost last year's presidential race to Mr Joko but still wields great influence over Indonesia's Parliament and political system.

To Australian observers, Mr Prabowo had a much better grasp of the international repercussions for Indonesia if the executions went ahead.


Source: The West Australian, Andrew Probyn, Nick Butterly Canberra, May 1, 2015 (local time)

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