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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…

India: Pune German Bakery case: Convict’s death penalty commuted to life term

Mirza Himayat Baig
Death sentence set aside for Mirza Himayat Baig
The Bombay high court on Thursday set aside the death sentence to Mirza Himayat Baig in the 2010 Pune German bakery blast case, acquitting him of all charges except two, for which he will serve a life sentence.

Baig’s life imprisonment was upheld under section 474 of the Indian Penal code for possession of forged documents intending to use it as genuine, and under 5 (B) of the explosives substance act for possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances.

A division bench comprising Justices N H Patil and S B Shukre had been hearing the prosecution’s arguments on a day-to-day basis since August this year, seeking confirmation of the death sentence awarded to Baig, the lone convict in the case.

Baig was arrested in September 2010 and convicted based on the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) investigations for the blast that killed 17 people and injured 58 people, including several foreign nationals. In 2013, a Pune court awarded the death penalty to Baig for his involvement. The case was then referred to the high court as per procedure to get the sentence ratified.

The special public prosecutor Raja Thakare urged the court to ratify the death sentence, but the defence counsel maintained that evidence against Baig had been fabricated by the investigating agencies.

Baig’s counsel, senior advocate Mehmood Pracaha, told the court that prosecution had been able to establish only some chunks of the ‘conspiracy’ and failed to link others to “establish the complete conspiracy”. 

Pracha further raised doubts on the explosive substance allegedly seized by the ATS from Baig and questioned the veracity of the CCTV footage produced in court. The video allegedly showed Indian Mujahideen founder Yasin Bhatkal, the alleged mastermind of the conspiracy, inside German Bakery on the day of the blast.

Source: Hindustan Times, March 17, 2016

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