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…

Myuran Sukumaran pens letter before his execution on life in Besi prison

Self-portrait by Myuran Sukumaran, Nusa Kambangan Island, April 2015
Self-portrait by Myuran Sukumaran, Nusa
Kambangan Island, April 2015
On April 11, Sukumaran wrote in a letter to reporter Cindy Wockner of the isolation and frustration of not knowing what was going on, and of how different the new jail was in comparison to Bali’s Kerobokan, where they had spent the bulk of their 10 years in jail.

“Here everything feels harder, more tiring, isolating, limited visits. Here feels like some sort of limbo or purgatory before we are punished,” he wrote, adding that it made Kerobokan feel like it deserved six stars.

“Here, for some reason, they won’t allow us to know the time which is weird and can be a little disorienting.”

He described the challenges of being kept in isolation, not knowing the time, not mixing with other prisoners and not being plugged into the outside world.

“The isolation is tough, its maddening not knowing what’s going on in the outside. Before I was so connected with what’s going on — I felt a little in control whether the news was good, bad or ugly. Here I feel completely helpless,” Sukumaran tells.

Since their arrival in Java, in early March, the guards watched them all the time, read and photocopied everything going in and out of the prison.

“Yes, we are allowed to go to church once a week but they don’t like us talking with the other prisoners. The church here is very small with 17 Christians,” he said.

The pair also prayed for good news.

“I am hoping that something good will happen soon. It’s not fair for them to keep us like this, at least at Kerobokan, even with this all hanging over our heads it felt easier — we were allowed to live. They let us be with our family, work, play — basically enjoy life,” he wrote.

Sukumaran told of his joy at learning his painting exhibition in Amsterdam was a success and how he was looking forward to hearing how the upcoming London one went.

“I’m jealous that my international art career is starting without me!!!” he says.

Source: news.au.com, May 2, 2015

Myuran Sukumaran could have fled Indonesia but chose to try to save others

Myuran Sukumaran was tipped off about the arrest of the 4 Bali 9 mules and could have fled the country, but chose to return to a hotel where fellow Bali 9 members were waiting in an attempt to save the 2 men.

According to information never revealed previously, the third in command of the Bali 9, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, has recalled "the greatest and most special moment that I will always remember about Myu is something no one will know".

He says Sukumaran, executed last week by an Indonesian firing squad, acted selflessly to save fellow drug smugglers Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman.

"I wanna share something with all of you. In memory of Myu," Nguyen wrote in a message that was shared on Facebook.

His fondest memory, said Nyguyen, was not something Sukumaran did in jail, or his art.

"[It was] the fact that he cared and worried about the rest. Calm and collected. This is what I will always remember about him," Nguyen wrote.

"Myu could have panicked and left the country."

The revelation comes as the Australian Federal Police, which has been widely criticised for tipping off Indonesian police with information leading to the arrests in Bali and knowingly exposing the Bali nine to the death penalty, will hold a press conference on Monday.

Commissioner Andrew Colvin, Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan and Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close will discuss the AFP's work during the Bali 9 investigation.

They will also discuss the AFP's guidelines in relation to death penalty matters in 2005 and the procedures the organisation operates under today.

Nguyen told Fairfax Media he and Sukumaran were at Bluefin, a Japanese fusion restaurant in Kuta, the day of their arrest on April 17, 2005.

Sukumaran was tipped off about the arrests of Martin Stephens, Renae Lawrence, Scott Rush and Michael Czugaj, the couriers for the Bali 9 syndicate who were apprehended at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport with heroin strapped to their bodies.

"There is a reason why code system are used. To alert if something goes wrong and flee the country," Nguyen wrote.

"Myu didn't pack up and left the country. No. He went back to the hotel where the other 2 were waiting. Moved them somewhere else, and telling them the most important thing at the moment was getting them out of the country safely. Calming them down and be aware [sic] what's happening."

Of all the Bali 9, Sukumaran had the best chance of escaping after their operation had been compromised.

He had been under surveillance by the Indonesian authorities but they did not know his name. He was known only to Indonesian police as "the black one" or "the negro".

I Nyoman Gatra, an Indonesian police intelligence officer who led a surveillance operation after the tip-off from the AFP, told the Denpasar District Court in 2005 that Sukumaran had not been listed on an AFP alert letter sent on April 8 about a week before the Bali 9 were arrested.

"At first I thought he was a bodyguard," he said at the time.

Sukumaran, Nguyen, Chen and Norman were arrested the night of May 17, 2005, at the Melasti Beach Bungalows in Bali.

Sukumaran wasn't actually in the room at the Melasti when it was raided by police, as has been previously reported. He was outside standing guard and was pushed into the room when the police stormed the hotel.

Police discovered rucksacks containing 334 grams of heroin and a bag of pepper, to put sniffer dogs off the scent.

Andrew Chan was arrested the same day on an Australian Airlines flight about to depart for Australia. He had no drugs in his possession but several mobile phones.

Sukumaran and Chan were executed at 12.25am on April 29.

Nguyen, who is serving life imprisonment in a jail in Malang, East Java, told Fairfax Media that after he wrote about what had happened he felt so much better.

"I can finally let go now."

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, May 3, 2015

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

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