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…

Anger as UN appoints Saudi official to top human rights job

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
THE United Nations (UN) has been attacked over the “scandalous” appointment of a Saudi Arabia official to a top human rights job – despite the repressive regime having beheaded more people this year than Islamic State.

The election of Faisal bin Hassan Trad to chair a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) follows a barrage of criticism aimed at the Saudi regime over its treatment of minorities and its apparent fondness for capital punishment.

Mr Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was appointed to the role in June - shortly after the kingdom posted an advert for eight new executioners.

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer described the move as a victory for cheap oil over human rights.

Mr Neuer said: “Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi.”

Mr Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has been leading a campaign to free her husband, said the move gave Saudi Arabia “a green light to start flogging [him] again”.

A 2015 Human Rights Watch report accused the Saudis of “systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities” and claimed “authorities subjected hundreds of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention”.

In the first six months of 2015, Saudi Arabia beheaded more than 100 people.

Decapitations, whippings and mutilations are common punishments for crimes including drug use and smuggling, homosexuality and adultery.

Only Iran carried out more killings.

Mr Neuer added: “It’s a sad comment on our world that oil continues to trump basic human rights principles.

“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council, but for the UN to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons.

"This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members."

The HRC has long attracted controversy for granting membership to countries with dubious human rights records.

Its current members include China, Qatar and Russia.

Source: Express, Tom Batchelor, Sept. 21, 2015

Related content (video):
- Saudi Arabia executes Burmese woman; secret filming reveals medieval, barbaric punishment, January 12, 2015 (Warning: Graphic Content). In the chilling recording, Basim, who was found guilty in a Saudi Sharia court of sexually abusing and murdering her 7-year-old step-daughter, is heard protesting her innocence until the very end. "I did not kill. I did not kill," she screams repeatedly. In a statement released on their official website, the Saudi Ministry of Interior said that the brutally delivered death penalty was warranted due to the "enormity of the crime," and was carried out to "restore security" and "realize justice." "[The punishment] implements the rulings of God against all those who attack innocents and spill their blood. The government warns all those who are seduced into committing a similar crimes that the rightful punishment is their fate," the statement said.

Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr Sentenced To Crucifixion In Saudi Arabia For Attending Pro-Democracy Protest

Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr
Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr
A teenager who was arrested in 2012 for taking part in an anti-government protest in Saudi Arabia will be crucified and beheaded after his latest appeal was dismissed.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was apprehended aged 17 after a closed trial found him guilty of encouraging pro-democracy protests using his Blackberry.

His rejected appeal was held in secret and has left all his legal avenues exhausted, meaning he could be executed at any moment.

Zena Esia, from the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights said: "The only way to get Ali out of this would be a royal pardon.

"Whether he will be released or not depends on what the king decides."

Despite this campaigners in the UK and across the world are losing hope that he will be granted the pardon by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

According to the International Business Times, al-Nimr's conviction is politically motivated as he is the nephew of prominent Shia cleric and campaigner Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was himself sentenced to death for terrorism offenses and "waging war on God."

Al-Nimr was allegedly tortured, denied access to a lawyer and not even told when his case was taking place until after he was sentenced to death. Some claim he was also forced to sign a confession despite there being no evidence against him.

Campaigners are now calling on the UK Government to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to block the execution.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve said: "Ali was a vulnerable child when he was arrested and this ordeal began.

"It is hard to see what British interests are strong enough to trump the principle that we should not be supporting the 'crucifixion' of juveniles."

Source: Huffington Post UK, Eve Hartley, Sept. 22, 2015

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