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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…

Jokowi asks Saudi king to help free 4 Indonesian nationals on death row

The Foreign Ministry has continued its diplomatic and legal work to try and free four migrant workers who have been sentenced to death for murders in Saudi Arabia.

The ministry said that the 4 migrant workers, all originating from West Java, were Tuti Tursilawati and Etty Toyib from Majalengka, Ato Suparto bin Data from Cirebon and Agus Ahmad Arwas from Sukabumi.

"We are still giving legal assistance to the 4 [migrant workers]. President [Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo] already asked Saudi Arabia King [Salman] for help. Bu Retno [Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi] already talked with her counterparts to help our citizens," the ministry's director for Indonesian citizens and legal entities Lalu Muhammad Iqbal told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Tuti, 36, was convicted of murdering her employer in 2010 after he allegedly physically and sexually abused her on separate days before the murder.

Etty, 35, was convicted of poisoning her employer to death in 2001 after he had allegedly physically abused her.

Meanwhile, Ato and Agus were convicted of raping and killing an Indonesian in Saudi Arabia in 2011.Tuti has undergone 2 trials as the first one was annulled after the Indonesian Foreign Ministry filed an appeal. In the 2nd trial this April, the local court in Saudi Arabia found her guilty and sentenced her to death once again. She was sentenced to death under qisas law (law of retaliation), where she could only be freed upon forgiveness from the victim's heirs.

Etty was also charged under qisas.

"We have filed a number of appeals for both cases and contacted the [Saudi] King and Foreign Minister. They really wanted to help but under qisas, the forgiveness is given only by the victims' heir, not the King," Iqbal said.

He said that the ministry was still working to contact the families of the murdered victims.

"We manage to keep in touch with one of Tuti's employer's relatives, but not yet the heirs. Meanwhile, in Etty's case, one of the heirs is still a minor so we need to wait for his forgiveness around next year," he said.

The good news, he said, was that the court in the city of Thaif had not asked for permission from the King to go ahead and conduct the execution of Tuti. Iqbal expressed his optimism for Ato and Agus' case as the victim was an Indonesian, known only by her 1st name Fatimah, an illegal immigrant in Saudi.

"We are still trying to find her relatives and ask them to forgive the convicts," he said, adding that she was not registered as a migrant worker in the ministry's database. Member of the House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing labor affairs, Irma Suryani urged the President to give legal assistance and protect the workers as mandated by the Law No. 39/2004 on the placement and protection of migrant workers.

"The government is liable to give legal assistance based on the presumption of innocence," she said on Wednesday.

Data from Migrant Care Indonesia recorded that by April, the death penalty had been delivered to 60 migrant workers, 45 of them in Malaysia, 5 in Saudi Arabia, 1 in Qatar and 9 in China. Meanwhile, another 219 cases are still ongoing.

"We demand that the government give its best effort in diplomacy to free the convicts from the death penalty, as we are against the death penalty. Moreover, they are often the victims of physical and sexual abuse from their employers," Migrant Care executive director Anis Hidayah said.

Source: The Jakarta Post, July 10, 2015

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