Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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…

Death row prisoners in limbo in Indonesia after unexplained stay of execution

Isolation cells on Nusakambangan island, West Java, Indonesia
Isolation cells on Nusakambangan island, West Java, Indonesia
Jakarta: A condemned Pakistani man has spoken of his suffering as his life remains in limbo more than two months after he was mysteriously spared from an Indonesian firing squad.

Garment trader Zulfiqar Ali was among 14 convicted drug offenders slated to be executed on April 29 as part of Indonesia's so-called "war on drugs".

But 10 prisoners, including Mr Ali, were given a last-minute stay of execution for reasons never explained by the Indonesian government.

"I am in darkness until now," Mr Ali told Fairfax Media via his lawyer.

"I am suffering for a long time and still this is a time of suffering for me."

Mr Ali was arrested on drug trafficking charges in 2004 after an Indian acquaintance, Gurdip Singh, named him as the owner of 300 grams of heroin.

An internal probe into Mr Ali's case, ordered by the Indonesian government, found he was a victim of conspiracy and likely to be innocent.

The investigation by then director-general of human rights Hafid Abbas, which found evidence of human rights violations and abuse of power at all levels, was ignored by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"I have sent a very strong letter to President Jokowi three days ago and strongly advised the president to immediately provide clemency to Zulfiqar Ali," Dr Hafid, who is now a commissioner with the National Commission for Human Rights told Fairfax Media.

However a spokesman for the Attorney-General, Muhammad Rum, said the executions would still be carried out. "The plan is still on, it was only postponed," he told Fairfax Media. "We haven't decided on the time."

Since his death was mysteriously postponed, Mr Ali, who has cirrhosis, has been ferried between hospital and a jail on Nusakambangan, the island where Indonesia carries out its executions.

He and another of the condemned prisoners, Indonesian Merri Utami, have repeatedly asked to be transferred back to the jails where they were incarcerated prior to July's executions.

Ms Utami, whom supporters say was a victim of human trafficking, has been kept in an isolation cell at a jail in Cilacap, the closest town to Nusakambangan.

"She is in isolation 24/7 except for two hours of church time each week," her lawyer, Afif Abdul Oyim told Fairfax Media.

"Her daughter spoke to her and told us her health has been impacted by the isolation. Emotionally, she is still traumatised by the execution day. Sometimes she will hear her cell doors opening, like the one she heard during execution night. She has no activities all day in isolation. It adds to the stress."

But Mr Rum said the nine male prisoners would remain on Nusakambangan and Ms Utami would stay at the women's jail in Cilacap.

"They are already there, so they stay there," he said.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield and Amilia Rosa, October 4, 2016

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