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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…

Mapped: The 58 countries that still have the death penalty

Our recent round-up of interesting facts about Belarus - published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union - unearthed some remarkable things.

The country is the booziest on Earth, it gave us Viber, and is home to some of the continent's last remaining bison. It is also the only nation in Europe that retains the death penalty.

As the map on the left shows, every other European country has abolished it (Russia has abolished it in practice, and has not executed anyone since 1996). 

But in Belarus - often dubbed "Europe's last dictatorship" - it continues, with 12 executions taking place in the last seven years and more than 200 since 1990. 


Just four countries considered to be industrialised still execute criminals: 

  • The US
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan 

The most recent countries to abolish all capital punishment are:

  • Guinea (2016)
  • Nauru (2016)
  • Congo (2015)
  • Suriname (2015)
  • Fiji (2015)
  • Madagascar (2012)
  • Latvia (2012)
  • Gabon (2010)

The 58 countries that have the death penalty

  • Botswana
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Nigeria
  • Somalia
  • Somaliland
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States
  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • North Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Territories
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • UAE
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Belarus


Total executions in 2015


According to Amnesty International, 25 countries carried out at least 1,630 executions last year.

Nineteen Asian countries:

  • Afghanistan (1)
  • Bangladesh (4)
  • China (exact number unknown)
  • India (1)
  • Indonesia (14)
  • Iran (977+)
  • Iraq (26+)
  • Japan (3)
  • Jordan (2)
  • Malaysia (exact number unknown)
  • North Korea (exact number unknown)
  • Oman (2)
  • Pakistan (326)
  • Saudi Arabia (158+)
  • Singapore (4)
  • Taiwan (6)
  • UAE (1)
  • Vietnam (exact number unknown)
  • Yemen (8+)

Five African countries:

  • Chad (10)
  • Egypt (22+)
  • Somalia (25+)
  • South Sudan (5+)
  • Sudan (3)

One American country: 

  • United States (28)

Source: The Telegraph, Oliver Smith, Travel, Maps and graphics, Sept. 1, 2016

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