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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…

Juvenile protester was among Saudi mass-execution victims, new information shows

Public executions in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public executions in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
A protester who was under 18 at the time of the alleged offenses for which he was convicted was among the 47 people executed in a single day in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, research by international human rights organization Reprieve has found.

Ali al Ribh was arrested while at school on February 12th, 2012 due to his involvement in activities calling for reform between February and October 2011 – when he was just 17 years old.

Ali – whose date of birth was December 2nd, 1993 – should therefore have been treated as a juvenile by the Saudi legal system. His execution on January 2nd this year was a breach of the absolute prohibition on the execution of juvenile offenders, and illegal under international law. The Saudi authorities did not inform his family of the execution and are keeping the location of his burial secret.

Ali’s execution will raise concerns about the position of other juveniles convicted for protest-related offences in the Kingdom. Dawoud al Mahroon, Ali al Nimr and Abdullah al Zaher remain under sentence of death for alleged offences which took place when they were aged 17, 17 and 15, respectively.

The British Government has said that it has raised their cases with the Saudi authorities and does not expect them to be executed. However, Reprieve is calling for renewed action in light of the fact that the Saudi authorities have executed at least one juvenile protester already this year.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve said: "Ali al Ribh's tragic case shows that the Saudi authorities are quite happy to execute juvenile protesters if they think no one is looking. Ali was seized by police at his school and subsequently executed, even though he was a child when the alleged protest offences were committed.

"Abdullah al Zaher, Ali al Nimr and Dawoud al Marhoon - all of whom were sentenced to death as children - remain imprisoned and could be executed at any time, without warning. Until the Saudi Government officially commutes their sentences, the sword will continue to hang over their heads. Britain must redouble its efforts to convince the Saudi Government to commute Abdullah, Ali and Dawoud's sentences – and those of any other juveniles facing execution – before it is too late."

Source: Reprieve, January 24, 2016

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