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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…

Pakistan stays execution of mentally ill prisoner

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a severely mentally ill man who was due to be hanged this Wednesday (2nd).

Imdad Ali has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Recent prison medical assessments have described Mr Ali as “insane”, and concluded that his is “a treatment-resistant case.” The execution of mentally ill people is illegal under Pakistani and international law, but despite this, the Pakistani authorities had scheduled Mr Ali’s hanging for this week.

This morning, the Supreme Court postponed Mr Ali’s hanging after a fresh petition from his lawyers at the Justice Project Pakistan, and following an intervention in support of Mr Ali from the government of Punjab province, where he is held. In a rare move, the Court has now decided to review its own recent judgment, in which judges dismissed Mr Ali’s appeal and paved the way for his execution. The fresh hearing is set to take place in the second week of November.

The news follows growing calls to save Mr Ali. This weekend, over 60 lawyers from common-law countries around the world – including the USA, UK, India, Singapore, Nigeria, Botswana and Malawi – wrote to Pakistan’s President urging him to halt Mr Ali’s execution. It also emerged that members of the European Parliament have noted that Pakistan’s special trade relationship with the European Union could be under threat from the country’s executions drive, which has seen over 400 people hanged in the last two years.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at human rights organization Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Ali, said: “The Supreme Court’s decision to stay Imdad’s hanging and review its ruling on the execution of the mentally ill is extremely welcome. This exceptional case has drawn attention from around the world, and it’s a great relief that Imdad has been temporarily spared from the gallows. It is now to be hoped that the Court will heed international and Pakistani law and refuse to allow the execution of this severely mentally ill man.” 

More information about Mr Ali's case can be seen at the Reprieve website.

Source: Reprieve, October 31, 2016. Reprieve is an international human rights organization.

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