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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…

Sri Lankan maid wins reprieve from death by stoning in Saudi Arabia

Colombo: Saudi authorities have agreed to retry a Sri Lankan housemaid sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, her country’s deputy foreign minister said Tuesday.

Harsha de Silva told parliament in Colombo the government had secured a fresh trial for the woman after Sri Lankan diplomats visited her in a Saudi jail over the weekend.

“Through our intervention, they (Saudi authorities) have agreed to reopen the case,” de Silva told parliament.

“This can be considered a big victory. We will provide her with legal counsel,” he added, without elaborating on the grounds for a retrial.

The woman, a 45-year-old married mother of two who has not been named, was convicted of adultery in August.

She was sentenced to death by stoning, while an unmarried Sri Lankan man convicted alongside her was sentenced to 100 lashes.

Sri Lankan lawmakers from all parties have united in urging the government to secure clemency for the woman and a pardon for the man.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met the Saudi envoy to Colombo last week and expressed concern over the case, which has sparked calls for a ban on Sri Lankan women travelling to Saudi Arabia for domestic work.

There were similar calls in 2013 when Saudi Arabia beheaded a Sri Lankan woman convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005, when she was 17 years old.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority on Monday appealed to Saudi King Salman to intervene and pardon the couple.

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

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 8, 2015

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