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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…

Pakistan: Shafqat Hussain given new death row reprieve

Shafqat Hussain
Shafqat Hussain
The execution of a Pakistani man convicted of manslaughter has been postponed hours before he was due to be hanged, prison officials say.

It is the fourth time Shafqat Hussain, who was found guilty of kidnapping and killing a child in 2004, has been given a stay of execution.

His lawyers say he was 14 when he was charged, and was tortured into making a confession.

The authorities however say he was 23 at the time of his sentencing.

Rights groups have petitioned the Pakistani authorities throughout the past week, calling for the execution to be halted.

A spokeswoman for the charity Reprieve told the BBC that both the president and the Supreme Court had been intensely lobbied before the latest stay of execution.

"At one point on Monday - before the latest stay - the Supreme Court ordered a hearing to be held four hours after his scheduled execution. It was a Kafkaesque situation," a Reprieve spokeswoman told the BBC.

Reprieve argues that Pakistan's legal system has failed Shafqat Hussain at every turn and that even now his case has not been properly investigated.

"Ten years later, Shafqat still bears the physical and psychological scars from the torture," a petition filed by human groups to President Mamnoon Hussain says.

"The execution of a juvenile offender is strictly prohibited under both Pakistani and international human rights law."

A group of UN human rights experts has also called for the execution to be halted, pointing out that "he did not receive a fair trial and that the state-appointed lawyer never raised the fact that he was a child at the time of the alleged offence".

The Pakistani government scrapped a moratorium on capital punishment in the aftermath of a deadly attack on a school in Peshawar - in which more than 150 school pupils and teachers were killed by the Taliban.

About 150 people have been executed since the moratorium was lifted.

Pakistan has the world's largest number of death row inmates, with more than 8,000 people reported to be awaiting execution.

Source: BBC News, June 9, 2015

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