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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…

Cyprus: House to delete the death penalty from the constitution

Nicosia, Cyprus
The scrapping of a constitutional provision allowing for legislation to impose the death penalty for certain crimes will be put to a plenary vote on Friday, House legal affairs committee chairman Yiorgos Georgiou announced on Wednesday.

Article 7.2 of the constitution of Cyprus states that "no person shall be deprived of his life except in the execution of a sentence of a competent court following his conviction of an offence for which this penalty is provided by law".

Under the article, the death penalty covered premeditated murder, high treason, piracy pure gentium and capital offences under military law.

Although Cyprus officially abolished the death penalty for murder in 1983 and for all other offences in 2002, and despite Cyprus being a signatory to the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for the full abolition of capital punishment, House Speaker Demetris Syllouris tabled a proposal to abolish the clause, arguing that its existence leaves the window open for future legislation re-introducing it.

The proposal, which will be put to a plenary vote on Friday, requires a 2/3 majority.

Speaking after a committee session, Georgiou said the clause would be abolished so that Cyprus could be fully harmonised with European legislation and international treaties.

Akel deputy Aristos Damianou said the death penalty was forbidden by article 2 of the European Union's Fundamental Rights Charter and by the Convention on Human Rights.

Damianou said Syllouris' proposal was right, adding that this inactive clause - Cyprus saw its last executions in 1962 - had not been invoked in several decades.

"About 10 other constitutional articles cite the death sentence, and therefore this amendment will strictly refer to capital punishment but touch on about 10 other constitutional provisions," he said.

Source: cyprus-mail.com, September 7, 2016

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