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…

URGENT APPEAL for 24-year-old Iranian man at imminent risk of execution

Ehsan Shah Ghasemi, a 24 year-old Iranian man, is at imminent risk of execution.

Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was sentenced to death for the murder of Ali Khalili. He stabbed Ali Khalili in the neck in July 2011, causing injuries that allegedly resulted in his death almost three years later in April 2014. 

Amnesty International believes Ehsan Shah Ghasemi did not receive a fair trial as there is no known conclusive evidence of a substantial causal link between the knife assault on Ali Khalili in 2011 and his death in 2014.

Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was initially arrested in July 2011 for stabbing Ali Khalili during a street fight that broke out when Ali Khalili stopped Ehsan Shah Ghasemi and his friends for playing loud “illegal” music in their car. Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was held in a Security Police station for two weeks where he claims he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. He was subsequently transferred to Kahrizak Detention Centre in southern Tehran where he spent three months in solitary confinement, apparently with shackles on his hands and feet. A criminal court in Tehran sentenced him sometime between March and April 2012 to 3 years’ imprisonment and ordered him to pay “financial compensation” (diyah) of 35 million rials [equivalent to 1,214 USdollars]. He was also sentenced to 70 lashes for consumption of alcohol. Later in 2012, Ali Khalili and his father pardoned Ehsan Shah Ghasemi and the case was closed.

Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was, however, re-arrested when Ali Khalili passed away in March 2014, as a result of health complications allegedly related to the original assault and the medical treatment administered after the initial injury. He was sentenced to death in October 2014 under the principle of “retribution-in-kind” (qesas). This was after two trial sessions before Branch 113 of the Criminal Court of Tehran Province, where he was denied the right to a lawyer of his own choosing and only met his court-recommended lawyer for the first time at his trial. The sentence was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court in May 2015 and is now with the head of judiciary to be approved on an expedited basis.


Ehsan Shah Ghasemi’s death sentence was sent to the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences immediately after it was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court in May 2015. His family has requested the authorities to delay the implementation of the sentence so as to have more time to secure a pardon from the family of the deceased. The authorities have, however, denied the request, referring to a high-level instruction to fast track the implementation of the sentence.

Name: Ehsan Shah Ghasemi (m)
Issues: Imminent execution, Death penalty, Unfair trial
UA: 120/15 Issue Date: 29 May 2015
Country: Iran

Please let us know if you took action so that we can track our impact!

Send a short email to uan@aiusa.org with "UA 120/15" in the subject line, and include in the body of the email the number of letters and/or emails you sent.

Thank you for taking action! Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if sending appeals after the below date. If you receive a response from a government official, please forward it to us at uan@aiusa.org or to the Urgent Action Office address below.


Please write immediately in English, Persian, Arabic or your own language:
  • Calling on the Iranian authorities to not execute Ehsan Shah Ghasemi, commute his death sentence, and order a retrial in strict compliance with international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty;
  • Reminding them that under international human rights law, the death penalty may be imposed only for “the most serious crimes” which international bodies have interpreted as being limited to intentional killing, and when the guilt of the person is proved upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation.


Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English) or @Khamenei_fa (Persian) Email: info_leader@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
The Presidency
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media@rouhani.ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and
@Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah SadeghLarijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to:
Iran does not presently have an embassy in the United States. Instead, please send copies to:

Iranian Interests Section
2209 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 965 4990 I Fax: 202 965 1073 I Email: info@daftar.org

Please share widely with your networks: http://bit.ly/1KDnio8

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UA Network Office AIUSA │600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC 20003
T. 202.509.8193 │ F. 202.509.8193 │E. uan@aiusa.orgamnestyusa.org/urgent

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

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