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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…

EU urges Singapore to reinstate halt on executions

The European Union (EU) has called on the authorities in Singapore to reinstate its halt on capital punishment, following the execution of a convicted murderer here last week.

Reiterating its opposition to the use of capital punishment, the EU said in a statement yesterday it has consistently called for universal abolition of the penalty, which it describes as "cruel and inhumane".

"The European Union calls on the Singaporean authorities to stop all pending executions and to reinstate its earlier moratorium on capital punishment as a 1st step towards definitive abolition of the death penalty," it added.

The statement came after Muhammad Kadar, 39, was executed on April 17 at Changi Prison Complex after he was convicted of stabbing a 69-year-old neighbour to death in her flat while robbing her. He is the 1st murderer to be sentenced to death after the law was changed to give judges discretion to mete out life imprisonment and caning instead for certain murder offences.

A statement released by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) last week said Muhammad had been accorded full due process under the law and was represented by a lawyer throughout the legal process.

"The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against conviction on July 5, 2011," said the SPF. "On Sept 29 last year, after hearing further arguments, the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for re-sentencing under the new death penalty regime and affirmed the sentence of death." The SPF added that Muhammad's petition for clemency was also rejected.

Source: Today, April 25, 2015


Statement on the execution of Muhammad bin Kadar

Muhammad bin Kadar, 39, was executed on 17 April 2015. He received the death sentence for killing a 69-year-old woman during a robbery in the victim's flat that occurred in May 2005. Muhammad had a low IQ of 76 and was under the influence of Dormicum when he entered the flat of Mdm Tham Weng Kuen and repeatedly attacked her with a knife and later a chopper from her kitchen. The victim later died of blood loss from the profuse wounds she suffered.

In 2009, Muhammad was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by the High Court. His appeal for diminished responsibility rejected by the Appellate Court in 2011. After amendments to the mandatory death penalty regime were introduced in late 2012, Muhammad applied for a re-sentence. The apex court determined that he had caused death with the "intention to kill" and upheld the death penalty. The final appeal for presidential clemency was rejected a week before Muhammad's execution.

We at the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) believe that Muhammad's death sentence should have been commuted in view of his low IQ and the influence of Dormicum. The defence psychiatrist had stated that the drug likely led to a "major reduction in self-control and regulation" of Muhammad's actions and that the intention to silence the victim was likely to have formed under the disinhibitory effects of Dormicum. So while Muhammad had planned to forcefully rob Mdm Tham and consumed Dormicum to embolden himself, the fatal attack was not premeditated and very much an afterthought influenced by the drug.

The death penalty is often and instinctively put forward as an effective deterrent of crime. Yet in the circumstances, we find great difficulty in seeing how this tragedy could have been prevented by the threat of execution given Muhammad's state of mind. Muhammad was a part-time odd job labourer with a history of substance abuse who was desperate for money to feed his drug habit. With a low IQ and only primary school education, Muhammad was socio-economically vulnerable to substance abuse and attendant problems. Imposing the death penalty in cases like these has the opposite effect of justice by disproportionately punishing the marginalised.

Media reports on the case have highlighted and even headlined the brutal manner of the murder. The SADPC maintains our opposition to the death sentence even for such cases. The death penalty is an ethically questionable choice of punishment as it shares the intentionality and instrumentality of violence with every act of murder. Judicial executions are in effect the most premeditated of all murders, even if they are aimed at achieving peace and security. We reject the death penalty because justice requires the congruence of means and ends.

SADPC continues to call for the abolition of the death penalty. We urge the country to look deeper into the roots of crime and find more humane and holistic ways to rehabilitate and reintegrate people like Muhammad. We strongly believe every person deserves a chance at atonement by contributing back to society.

Source: theonlinecitizen.com, April 25, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

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