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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…

Mauritanian court upholds death sentence for 'blasphemous' blogger

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An appeal court in the west African state of Mauritania has upheld the death sentence of a blogger accused of blasphemy, a judicial source told AFP on Thursday.

Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, who has also been named as Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, was initially handed the death sentence in 2014 on charges of "apostasy".

The appeal court on Thursday upheld the sentence but downgraded the charge from apostasy to the lesser charge of being an "infidel" after the blogger repented, the source said.

The source added that Mkheitir could still be pardoned by the Supreme Court "if they find that his repentance is sincere".

The accused, aged in his thirties, was arrested in 2014 after uploading an article onto the internet that authorities considered blasphemous.

The original announcement of the death penalty was met with public celebrations in two Mauritanian cities.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International has designated Mkheitir "a prisoner of conscience".

"He wrote a post on a blog criticising people who use religion as a means of discrimination and injustice," said Gaetan Mootoo, a west African specialist at Amnesty International.

He was "jailed for having exercised his right to free speech in a peaceful manner," Mootoo added.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 22, 2016

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