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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…

Pakistan Executes Four Involved in School Terrorist Attack

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan on Wednesday executed four men convicted of involvement in a terrorist attack on a school last year that left 151 people dead, most of them schoolchildren, police officials said.

Maulvi Abdus Salam, Hazrat Ali, Mujeeb ur Rehman, and Sabeel, who was identified by only one name, were found guilty by military courts in August of providing funds, transportation and other assistance to the militants who stormed the school. The military said the men were members of Toheed Wal Jihad, a group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban.

The scale and manner of the attack, which targeted a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December last year, sparked shock and anger in Pakistan, prompting the government to ramp up antiterrorism operations across the country. It also lifted a moratorium on executions and established special military courts to try terrorism cases.

The four men were executed Wednesday morning at a prison in the northwestern city of Kohat, police officials said, the first death sentences carried out over the Peshawar attack. The men’s appeals in higher courts failed, and last month President Mamnoon Hussain rejected their mercy petitions. Representatives or families of the four couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Pakistan has been changed after the Peshawar tragedy. The brutal and merciless killings of our children convinced us that the perpetrators of such crimes do not deserve any mercy,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said last month, after he advised Mr. Hussain to reject their appeals. “The death sentence awarded to the four terrorists, in fact, was the will of the entire nation.”

The government lifted its moratorium on executions in December last year, initially limiting them to terrorism cases. It later resumed executions in all cases, with 297 people hanged after the school attack, as of Nov. 29, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Members of Pakistan’s legal community unsuccessfully challenged the establishment of military courts in the Supreme Court in August, arguing that the move could threaten the fundamental rights of citizens. The government denied there was any such threat, saying those convicted by military courts could appeal in higher civilian courts.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Qasim Nauman, December 2, 2015

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