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…

Last Minute Appeal in Disputed Death Penalty Case in Vietnam

A group of lawyers have petitioned President Truong Tan Sang for the reprieve of a death row inmate, who was acquitted twice on appeal, but [was] scheduled to die on Sunday.

The lawyers said that Le Van Manh appeared to have been a scapegoat in a case in which the proper legal procedures were not followed.

The People’s Court in Thanh Hoa province has given the go ahead for the death sentence, following Manh’s conviction on charges of murder, child rape and robbery.

His original convictions were overturned twice on appeal. However, the death sentence imposed at Manh’s third trial was upheld.

Manh’s mother says that he was tortured into making a confession for the crimes and that he has an alibi that proves he could not have been present at the time of the crime.

He was accused of raping and strangling to death a fifteen-year-old girl by the banks of a river near his home town.

In their letter, the lawyers said the only evidence produced against Manh was his confession. At his trial he had denied involvement in the murder.

They said that courts could not convict on the strength of such a confession alone and that doing so was a violation of clause 2, article 72, of the criminal code.

Manh’s mother has made an emotional appeal on Youtube for his reprieve.

She said that he was arrested without a warrant or summons and was subjected to torture in prison.

She said he was beaten into unconsciousness and suspended by a rope during the interrogation sessions and had no option but to confess.

The lawyers said that they had tried to submit an appeal at the Supreme People’s Court but had received no response from officials there.

Source: New America Media, October 25, 2015

Vietnam court delays execution of man following family appeal

A court in north-central Vietnam has put off the planned execution for a man sentenced to death in 2008 on charges of murder and rape, following his family’s appeal saying he is innocent.

Phan Quoc Bao, chief judge of the People’s Court in Thanh Hoa Province, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the court has decided to postpone the execution for Le Van Manh, who was condemned to death for raping and killing a 14-year-old girl, Hoang Thi Loan, ten years ago.

On October 23, six lawyers in Hanoi also lodged their petition to State President Truong Tan Sang and many judicial agencies in the capital city and Thanh Hoa, requesting a delay of the execution.

“We have just received the petition from Manh’s family and we will re-consider the case to determine whether Manh has fallen victim to miscarriage of justice or not,” Bao said.

“After re-examining the case file, we will make proposals to law agencies on what steps should be taken to deal with it,” he added.

Source: tuoitrenews, October 26, 2015

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