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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…

Two face politically-motivated execution in Bahrain based on torture ‘confessions’

Two Bahrainis who were tortured into ‘confessing’ to an attack on police officers in the wake of anti-Government protests last year could be executed at any moment, unless the country’s King pardons them.

Husain Moosa and Mohammed Ramadan were arrested in February and March 2014 respectively, shortly after demonstrations took place in Bahrain to mark the third anniversary of the ‘Arab Spring’ protests in the country.

February also saw a bomb attack in the village of al Dair, which injured two police officers, one of whom subsequently died. Mr Moosa and Mr Ramadan were arrested one week and one month after the event, respectively, and say they were subjected to extensive torture until they produced ‘confessions’ to being involved in the attack.

No evidence aside from these forced confessions and the testimony of police officers was produced in court to link either man to the attack. But despite this they were both convicted and sentenced to death in December 2014. Last month, Bahrain’s court of cassation rejected their final appeal, meaning they could now face execution at any moment, at the discretion of King Hamad.

Mr Ramadan has described how he was held incommunicado for four days and beaten until he produced the ‘confession’ that the authorities wanted, relating to the bombing. When he subsequently told a judge that the confession had been given under torture, he was taken to another prison and subjected to further beatings, and was forced to listen to other prisoners being tortured, for ten days.

Mr Moosa has described how he was hung from the ceiling and beaten with police batons. He says that officers threatened to fabricate charges against his relatives and rape his sisters unless he confessed. Mr Moosa subsequently recanted his confession in front of the public prosecutor, but like Mr Ramadan was then subjected to further torture as a result.

The case has been the focus of concern from both the European Parliament and UN officials. In July this year, MEPs warned that in Bahrain “…the use of the death penalty in politically motivated cases has expanded since 2011, with “at least seven individuals have been handed death sentences in political cases since 2011…four of these seven being sentenced to death in 2015 alone.”

Earlier this year, five UN human rights experts, including the Special Repporteur on Torture, raised concerns that both Mr Ramadan and Mr Moosa had confessed under duress.

International human rights charity Reprieve is calling on the King of Bahrain to commute the sentences, and on the UK to intervene given its status as a close ally of the country.

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said: “Husain and Mohammed have suffered an appalling ordeal – viciously tortured until they made a false confession, then tortured again when they tried to withdraw it. In the absence of any concrete evidence linking them to this crime, there is a real risk that two innocent men will die for what appear to be politically-motivated reasons. King Hamad must commute their sentence and ensure they receive the fair trial they deserve. Britain, as a close ally of Bahrain, must make clear that this terrible injustice is entirely unacceptable.”

Source: Reprieve, December 21, 2015 

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