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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…

Filipina death row prisoner Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso celebrated women's rights at Wirogunan prison in Indonesia

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso celebrated women's rights on Saturday during Kartini Day at Wirogunan prison in Indonesia
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso celebrated women's rights on Saturday
during Kartini Day at Wirogunan prison in Indonesia.
Filipina death row prisoner Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso celebrated women's rights on Saturday during Kartini Day at Wirogunan prison in Indonesia.

Ms Veloso, along with 107 other female prisoners, took part in a kebaya fashion show and a singing competition to recognise the event, honoring national heroine Raden Adjeng Kartini and Indonesian women's empowerment and gender equality.

Dressed in an elaborate sheer and embroidered long sleeved top over a long dress, Ms Veloso appeared in good spirits, joining the other prisoners in the fashion parade.

Last year Ms Veloso was listed for execution along with Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, after she was arrested in Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta in 2010 with 2.6kg of heroin.

Her execution was postponed just minutes before she was set to face the firing squad.

Darwin lawyer Felicity Gerry, who specialises in human trafficking cases, worked feverishly to save Mary Jane Veloso's life for just over three weeks.

Ms Gerry, a Briton who had transplanted with her family to Darwin, had been working on the case of drug trafficker Lindsay Sandiford - the English legal secretary arrested for smuggling cocaine into Bali and also sentenced to death.

On April 7 this year, she spotted an email from Migrante International, the international migrants' rights body, which pleaded Veloso's case that she was an impoverished Filipina maid recruited to work in Indonesia in 2010 and carry luggage loaded with 2.6kg of heroin.

By that time no date was yet set, but the executions of eight drug dealers on Nusakambangan was a looming certainty and an eleventh hour bid to save Veloso had sprung up.

'Mary Jane comes from a very, very poor family who had got this very public spirited set of lawyers, the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), to see what they could do,' Ms Gerry told Daily Mail Australia.

'People were coming out on the street to sign the petition to save Mary Jane. I know the law in human trafficking cases. I thought "I can help". I contacted Edre Olalia [NUPL secretary General).'

Ms Gerry emailed Mr Olalia on April 9. The following day she had a Skype meeting with Migrante International and NUPL.

'There were two issues, applying the human trafficking law to protect the victim and and telling authorities she was a human trafficking victim as defined by the law, someone who is deceived or suffers an abuse of trust or abuse of her vulnerability.

'Mary Jane was duped into going abroad to work as a maid and into carrying suitcases. Indonesia has mandatory legal protection for human trafficking. Actually, it has better laws than Australia.'

The race to save Mary Jane Veloso from the firing squad was on, and the story of Ms Gerry's bid was documented by ABC's Foreign Correspondent.

On April 16, Ms Gerry filed the legal complaint against the Filipino recruiters who had trafficked Ms Veloso.

The investigation was in train. On the streets of the Philippines, 250,000 people had come out to sign the petition to save the young woman's life.

On April 24, the Indonesian Government announced the 72-hour countdown for Veloso's execution along with Chan, Sukumaran, and five others. Up to 4000 Filipinos started camping outside the Indoresian embassy in Manila.


Source: Mail Online, April 24, 2016

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