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…

Belgian expat's murder charge sparks discussion about the death penalty in Belgium

Belgian national Philippe Graffart (center) arrives at the state court in Singapore.
Belgian national Philippe Graffart (center) arrives at the state court in Singapore.
The arrest of Belgian expatriate Philippe Graffart for the alleged murder of his 5-year-old son has attracted media attention in Belgium, with many Belgian news reports focusing on how he faces the death penalty.

Newspapers like the La Dernière Heure (The Latest Hour), a French-language daily published in Brussels, kicked off their reports by stating that Graffart faces the death penalty by hanging if he is convicted. Others, such as La Meuse, a French-language regional paper published in Liege, Belgium, ran the death penalty threat as a headline.

Graffart, 41, was charged in court on Wednesday with the murder of his son, Keryan Gabriel Cedric Graffart. The boy was understood to have been strangled as hand-shaped bruises were found over his neck.

The La Dernière Heure said on Wednesday that Graffart's mother was trying to help him. The newspaper also quoted Graffart's uncle, who was unnamed, as saying that the family was "in shock" over the incident.

Belgian minister of foreign affairs Didier Reynders said that consular assistance has been offered to Graffart's family in Singapore, according to the La Dernière Heure. Mr Reynders also told the Brussels newspaper that Belgium is against the death penalty.

"Belgium is campaigning in the front line and has always been against the death penalty. We operate all over the world to demand its abolition. Belgium's position is very clear on the matter. If any of our people had to be condemned to such penalty, it is clear that we will take steps to publicise our position again," the La Dernière Heure quoted Mr Reynders as saying.

The Straits Times was not able to verify the comments, as the Belgian Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Corporation, which is responsible for Belgium's external relations, had not responded to messages by press time. The Belgian Embassy in Singapore has declined to comment on the case.

Meanwhile, many Belgians have commented on the case online.

"This jerk, he deserves death, rest in peace little angel." said Marie-therese Rodts Marino said in a comment on Belgian newspaper Sud Presse's Facebook page.

On La Meuse's website, someone named Martine Monseur said:"May this little innocent victim rest in peace. Belgium should institute the death penalty for people who harm children!"

But other netizens were critical of the death penalty.

Said Marie-Francoise Cambron: "I am against the death penalty because it does not change what he did and will not bring back the little boy."

Source: Straits Times, October 9, 2015

Belgian financial executive charged with strangling 5-year-old son in Singapore

The boy was reportedly found in his bedroom with hand-shaped bruises around his neck and his parents, divorced, are believed to be fighting over his custody

A Belgian financial executive was charged on Wednesday with murdering his five-year-old son in Singapore, an offence punishable by hanging.

Philippe Graffart, 41, was accused of killing his son Keryan at an upmarket condominium near Singapore’s embassy row between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

He has been remanded for psychiatric observation at the medical complex in Changi Prison.

Local media reported the boy was found strangled, with hand-shaped bruises around his neck, and Graffart was believed to have been fighting for custody of his son with his former wife.

He was arrested before dawn on Tuesday after showing up with self-inflicted wounds outside a police station, the Straits Times said. The charge sheet contained no further details.

Graffart was due to fly to Hong Kong on Wednesday for work and arrangements had been made for Keryan's mother to pick him up from school, the Straits Times quoted Graffart's domestic helper Ni Em Cin as saying.

The Belgian’s account on business networking service LinkedIn described him as an executive director and head of fund distribution in the Asia-Pacific for Nordea Investment Management, based in Oslo.

A Facebook account in his name showed a collection of happy pictures with Keryan.

“Happy Birthday to you Keryan! 5 years i am so proud of you!,” said a post dated September 25.

Source: South China Morning Post, October 7, 2015

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