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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…

Unfair trials lead to death-row convictions in Indonesia

Corrupt legal system, poor investigations 'work against the innocent'

Many prisoners in Indonesia on death row are there as a result of unfair trials, according to an Indonesian church official.

"Lots of people are still waiting for their execution. Many of them are the fruit of unfair trials," said Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, during a Dec. 13 discussion program at the bishops' conference's office in Jakarta.

"If those sentenced to death are finally executed and then research is done after their execution that shows they are victims of unfair trials, the state cannot do anything to pay for its sins," he said.

"This is something that we must reveal, we must tell the public. We must see that trials are not always fair," he said.

Father Siswantoko referred to the case of a 54-year-old Catholic layman named Christian, who was arrested in November 2007 on drug trafficking charges, convicted and later sentenced to death.

The bishops' Advocacy and Human Rights Forum are trying to help secure the man's release. Father Siswantoko said he was convicted on false evidence and received an unfair trial.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, forum coordinator, said Christian, who is being held in Tangerang prison in Banten province, had a name that was similar to a known drug dealer wanted by police, who did follow proper investigatory procedures.

"Christian was not arrested at the crime scene and was never asked for a urine test, which is essential in drug-related cases," he told ucanews.com.

He said the forum was preparing to submit a judicial review for Christian's case and request clemency.

Nainggolan said that Indonesia's legal system remained corrupt. "This can be seen from unfair trials. And it would be very heavy if unfair trials have to be faced by those sentenced to death," he said.

He said the forum has uncovered at least 300 death penalty convictions that were the result of unfair trials.

Meanwhile, Talitha Kara, Christian's daughter, said her family hopes justice will prevail.

"We just want the state to enforce the law. I want my father to be sent home. That's all," she told ucanews.com.

Source: ucanews.com, December 14, 2015

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