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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…

UN experts slam execution of minors in Iran

United Nations human rights experts expressed "outrage and profound sadness" Friday at Iran's execution of 2 juvenile offenders, urging the country to "stop killing children."

Fatemeh Salbehi was hanged on Tuesday after being found guilty for killing a man she had been forced to marry when she was just 16, becoming the 11th woman to be executed in Iran this year, along with around 700 men.

The UN experts pointed to reported flaws in her trial and appeals process, and warned her execution was a clear breach of international law banning condemning juvenile offenders to death.

They also decried the execution a week earlier of Samad Zahabi, who was sentenced to death in March 2013 for killing a fellow shepherd when he was just 17.

"No notice was provided to Mr. Zahabi's family, nor was the required 48-hour notice provided to his lawyer," the experts said in a statement.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN's top expert on the rights situation in Iran, said the two executions were "disturbing examples of surging execution rates and questionable fair trial standards in the Islamic Republic of Iran."

The UN expert on summary executions, Christof Heyns, meanwhile slammed the executions as "unlawful killings committed by the State, the equivalent of murders performed by individuals."

"These are profound tragedies that demean the value of human life and sully the reputation of the country," he said, pointing out that "executing a juvenile offender, especially after a questionable trial, directly contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child."

"Iran must immediately stop killing children," he insisted.

Dubravka Simonovic, the expert UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, highlighted the court's lack of consideration for the circumstances surrounding Salbehi's crime, which she said were "emblematic of the struggles victims of domestic abuse face in the judicial system."

"We cannot ignore the serious consequences of psychological, sexual and physical violence in the home on a woman's physical and psychological health," she said.

Highlighting Salbehi's young age at the time of her marriage and her lack of consent, Simonovic voiced concern over the high numbers of early and forced marriages in Iran.

The 3 experts called on Tehran to immediately establish a moratorium on executions and work towards abolishing the death penalty all together.

Source: france24.com, October 16, 2015

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