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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…

Saudi Court Sentences 14 to Death in Attacks on Security Forces

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH — A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced 14 men to death on Wednesday in connection with attacks on security forces in a Shiite area in the country’s east, the Al Arabiya satellite network reported.

Of the 24 people tried, one was acquitted and nine others were given sentences ranging from three to 15 years, the network said. 

Those sentenced to death were accused of terrorism.

The men were arrested a few years ago, when protests by members of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority roiled the Qatif area of Eastern Province, leading to clashes with the security forces that left dead about 20 protesters and a number of police officers.

Many Shiites complain of discrimination in the Sunni-majority kingdom whose official creed considers some Shiite beliefs and practices heretical.

The Saudi government characterized the protesters as rioters who harbored armed groups, and it has put some of them on trial on charges that include terrorism. 

Western human rights groups have accused the Saudi government of using the courts to stifle dissent and convicting activists on trumped up charges.

The executions could escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia’s regional Shiite rival, Iran. 

Saudi Arabia’s execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in January sparked protests in Tehran, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties after protesters stormed its embassy.

The men’s death sentences can be appealed.

Source: The New York Times, Ben Hubbard, June 1, 2016

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