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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…

Second Saudi execution after Ramadan pause

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens for drug trafficking Tuesday, in the second execution after a pause for Ramadan.

Saif al-Hadissane was found guilty of smuggling a large amount of hashish.

He was executed in the Al-Ahsa region of eastern Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

SPA had reported no executions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday which followed it from July 17.

The latest beheading brings to 104 the number of executions in the kingdom this year, a sharp increase on the 87 recorded during the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.

This year's figure is still below the record 192 which human rights group Amnesty International said took place in 1995.

Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi authorities of waging a "campaign of death" by executing more people in the first six months of this year than in all of last year.

Echoing the concerns of other activists, the New York-based group said it had documented "due process violations" in Saudi Arabia's legal system that make it difficult for defendants to get fair trials even in capital cases.

Under the conservative kingdom's strict Islamic sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

The Interior Ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishment. It has also talked of "the physical and social harm" caused by drugs.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 28, 2015

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