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…

UAE to try 41 on 'terror' charges

Emiratis among 41 to be tried in Federal Supreme Court on charges of setting up terrorist group

The Public Prosecution has referred 41 men of various nationalities, including Emiratis, to the Federal Supreme Court on charges of setting up a terrorist organisation, Salem Saeed Kubaish, UAE's Attoney General said on Sunday.

"The defendants were charged with setting up and running a terrorist organisation named Shabab Al Manarah "The Minaret Youths" which upholds terrorist thought with the intent to terrorist acts inside the country and endanger its security and peace and lives of its people including their leaders," Kubaish said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM.

Kubaish said that the suspects were also charged with intending to inflict damages to private and public properties to eventually take over authority to set up a so-called Caliphate State in line with their extremist thought.

"To carry out their terrorist acts, the suspects procured fire arms, ammunitions and explosives necessary, using funds they collected for this purpose and got in touch with foreign terrorist organisations and groups. These groups provided these suspects with funds and people to achieve their goals inside the cpuntry," Kubaish said.

Convicted terrorists will face capital punishment, life imprisonment and fines of up to Dh100 million, according to a federal law to combat terrorism, which was endorsed last year.

The law ushered in new security measures to counter a sweeping range of crimes deemed acts of terror at a time when international efforts are being mustered to fight the global menace.

The law defines a terrorist offence as "any action or inaction made a crime by this law and every action or inaction made a crime by any other law if they are carried out for a terrorist cause".

Provoking terror among a group of people, killing or causing harm to people or property, and opposing the state are also considered violations under the law.

It also rules capital or life imprisonment for actions such as impersonating a public figure and wrongfully claiming to be on assignment for a public service. A person found guilty of attacking or endangering the life of the President, Vice President, or any of the rulers and their families could also receive the death sentence.

A terrorist intent is established by a direct or indirect terrorist result or when an offender knows that the action or inaction leads, in its nature or context, to terrorist results.

Kubaish said the suspects set up an organisational structure including committees and cells with specific tasks. "A leader was appointed to oversee the terrorist organisation, issue orders, instructions, roles and duties for each committee. He was also assigned to set policies. His deputy was assigned to follow up implementation of these policies," Kubaish said.

The Attorney General added these committees were assigned to recruit young Emiratis and instill extremist thought into them and train them on militant acts and manufacturing of explosives at certain camping sites.

They suspects, the Attorney said, also disseminated audio and video materials ton the internet to spread their terrorist thought.

According to the anti-terrorism law, terrorist results include inciting fear among a group of people, killing them, or causing them serious physical injury, or inflicting substantial damage to property or the environment, or disrupting security of the international community, or opposing the country, or influencing the public authorities of the country or another country or international organisation while discharging its duties, or receiving a privilege from the country or another country or an international organisation.

The law also establishes counselling centres where convicted terrorists will receive intensive religious and welfare counselling in jails in a programme targeted against future threats posed by those holding extremist views, according to the law.

Every legal person whose representatives, managers or agents commit or contribute to the commission of any of the terrorist offences provided in the law, would receive a fine ranging from Dh1 million to Dh100 million.

A committee to be named The National Committee for Combating Terrorism will be established, and a decision towards its establishment will be made by the Cabinet.

"Whoever seeks or communicates with a foreign state, terrorist organisation or with anyone who works for their interests, to commit any terrorist act, shall be punished with imprisonment for life while the death penalty will be imposed if the terrorist act has been carried out," the law says.

Source: Gulf News, August 2, 2015

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