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…

Paris Warns Indonesia of Consequences if Frenchman Executed

Serge Atlaoui and his Indonesian attorney
Jakarta. The French ambassador in Jakarta on Friday warned Indonesia that executing a Frenchman on death row on drugs charges would have “consequences” for the bilateral relationship.

“If the execution is carried out, it will not be without consequence for our bilateral relationship,” Ambassador Corinne Breuze told reporters in Jakarta, adding that France, which abolished the death penalty in 1981, was opposed to capital punishment in every circumstance.

Serge Atlaoui, 51, was arrested near Jakarta in 2005 in a secret laboratory producing ecstasy and sentenced to death two years later.

Imprisoned in Indonesia for a decade, the father-of-four has always denied the charges, saying he was installing industrial machinery in what he thought was an acrylics factory.

He has appealed his case before the Supreme Court, and a verdict is expected imminently.

If rejected, his execution and that of other foreigners — including citizens from Australia, Brazil, Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria — could be very soon.

The Indonesian government has already compiled a list of those to face the firing squad next after conducting a round of executions in January, the first since 2013.

In the Atlaoui case, eight others arrested alongside the Frenchman were also sentenced to death.

But “what appears shocking to us is that our compatriot is the only one on the list to be executed,” said the ambassador.

“I recall Serge Atlaoui was convicted as a chemist, when he was a solderer with a minor role in this affair,” she said, adding the French government were “prepared to assist Indonesia in its fight against drug trafficking.”

Drug laws in Indonesia are among the toughest in the world.

President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, has rejected all requests for clemency from drug dealers sentenced to death, claiming the country is facing a narcotics emergency.

However Indonesia has been actively trying to save its citizens on death row abroad. Jakarta protested the execution this week of two Indonesian women in Saudi Arabia.

Atlaoui’s wife Sabine pleaded with the president, saying her husband did not deserve to die and her family had been living through “psychological torture.”

“A member of the prosecutor’s office has already asked us for my husband’s measurements for his future coffin, which is unimaginable and inconceivable given the situation we are in,” she said.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 17, 2015

Related article:

Schizophrenic Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte fit to execute: Indonesia

Rodrigo Gularte
Jakarta: A Brazilian man whom the Attorney-General has proclaimed fit to execute with the Bali nine organisers was first diagnosed with a mental illness in 1982, according to medical documents obtained by his legal team.

Rodrigo Gularte is facing the firing squad with nine other drug felons, including Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan and all these offenders are slated to be executed together.

Lawyers for Gularte, who was arrested in 2004 trying to smuggle six kilograms of cocaine into Indonesia hidden inside surfboards, say he cannot be executed because he is schizophrenic.

But last month Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo said that according to testimonies from fellow inmates and doctors, Gularte was not sick at all.

"This means there's nothing stopping us from executing him," he was quoted in the Jakarta Post newspaper.

Mr Prasetyo has also repeatedly said the law only prohibited the government from executing pregnant women and children under 18 years of age.

However Rodrigo's lawyer, Christina Widiantarti, said Mr Prasetyo was not being "transparent".

"Under public law in Indonesia you can't punish a mentally sick person - not even six or 20 years in jail," she said.

Instead, according to article 44 of the Indonesian penal code, a person who has a mental disorder should be taken to hospital.

Last year specialists from Yogyakarta who visited him at Pasir Putih prison on Nusakambangan also diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia.

The Attorney-General requested a second opinion which was provided by two police doctors from Central Java Provincial Police.

However the the second opinion has not been made available to Gularte's legal team, family members or the Brazilian embassy.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfiel, April 19, 2015

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