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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…

Saudi executes man convicted of killing wife

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia on Monday executed a man convicted of killing his wife, adding to a toll which rights group Amnesty International says is the kingdom's highest in two decades.

Hawas al-Shammry, a Saudi, was put to death for stabbing his Saudi wife to death after a dispute, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Authorities carried out the sentence in Rafha, in the kingdom's north.

According to AFP tallies, Shammry is the 148th local or foreigner put to death this year, against 87 for all of 2014.

London-based Amnesty says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year is the highest since 192 people were put to death in 1995.

The toll has rarely exceeded 90 annually in recent years, it said.

Reasons for the surge are unclear.

Over the last few weeks, however, there has been a marked drop in executions, all of which are reported by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Rights experts have raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom but Saudi Arabia's interior ministry says the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.

The sentences are usually carried out by beheading with a sword.

Amnesty says Saudi Arabia had the world's third-highest number of executions last year, far behind China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States.

Under the kingdom's strict Islamic legal code, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 7, 2015

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