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…

Pakistan to execute paraplegic next week, as hanging of mentally-ill prisoner postponed

A severely disabled prisoner on Pakistan's death row has been told he will be executed next Wednesday (29th).

Abdul Basit, 43, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in 2009. In 2010, he contracted tubercular meningitis in prison, which left him paralysed from the waist down. Despite being unable to stand, and reliant on a wheelchair, a 'Black Warrant' issued this morning confirms he will be hanged next week.

In a mercy petition to the President of Pakistan, Abdul's lawyers have argued that as the Pakistan Prison Rules of 1978 - the statute regulating executions - does not provide alternative procedures for the hanging of a disabled prisoner, the execution would amount to cruel and unusual punishment, and would breach Pakistani and international law.

News of Abdul's warrant for execution came as a last-minute stay was issued for Khizar Hayat, a prisoner suffering from severe mental illness who was to be hanged on Tuesday (28th). Khizar has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, and is held in a hospital cell, reportedly unable to understand his situation. The execution of prisoners suffering from mental illness is prohibited by Pakistani and international law.

Some 180 prisoners have been hanged in Pakistan since the resumption of executions in December 2014. Among the prisoners to have faced the gallows have been others suffering from mental illness, juveniles, and many who may have been innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted.

Commenting, Kate Higham, Pakistan caseworker at human rights organization Reprieve, said: "In less than a week, we've seen the authorities in Pakistan attempting to execute mentally ill and disabled prisoners. While the stay of execution granted to Khizar Hayat this morning is extremely welcome, it is appalling that the authorities still see fit to hang a paralysed man next week. Pakistan's wave of executions is nothing but a cruel and pointless spectacle, and must be halted immediately."

Source: Reprieve, July 25, 2015

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