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…

Australians serving lengthy or life sentences in foreign jails

Bali's notorious Kerobokan prison
Bali's notorious Kerobokan prison
SCHAPELLE Corby. The Bali Nine. Peter Greste.

They’re names synonymous with Australians who, at some stage or another, have found themselves banged up abroad.

There are currently 391 Australians convicted and serving a jail sentence overseas, according to a new report by the Department of Foreign Affairs. That’s up from 371 in 2014—15 and 326 five years ago in 2011—12.

While Corby is now on parole, two of the Bali Nine have been executed and Greste — who was imprisoned in Cairo, Eqypt for reporting which was “damaging to national security” — has been released, there are hundreds of other Australians still languishing in foreign jails.

Some are there for serious crimes including drug trafficking, bribery and murder.

Prison conditions and management are determined by local authorities and vary from country to country and prison to prison, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In some notorious foreign prisons inmates face a personal hell far worse than they would ever encounter while incarcerated in Australia because of lower standards.

Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, for example, is notorious for its awful sanitary and health problems caused by the filth. On top of personality clashes and infighting among the prisoners themselves, personal effects are regularly stolen from the prisoners by their cell mates.


Matthew Norman, a member of the Bali Nine, outside of his cell at Kerobokan prison
Matthew Norman, Kerobokan Prison, Bali
THE surviving Bali Nine members have been locked up in Balinese prisons, including Kerobokan. for about a decade and have many more years to serve.

The group was arrested in 2005 over a plan to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Indonesia to Australia with a street value of around $4 million.

Two of the ‘Bali Nine’, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, were given the death penalty and executed in 2015.

Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Renae Lawrence were also sentenced to the death penalty before having it reduced to life imprisonment. Some members of the group have since had their sentences cut to 20 years.

By Australian standards, Kerobokan prison is dreadful place.

But it’s not the only foreign jail that some convicted Australian criminals now call home.


Jake Mastroianni is serving two life sentences in Thailand for drug possession
Jake Mastroianni
JAKE Mastroianni was a nightclub king who travelled the globe with beautiful women on his arm. But his whole world soon came crashing down.

The Melbourne DJ went from living his dream to behind bars in one of Thailand’s worst prisons where he is serving two life sentences.

Mastroianni, 26, also known as DJ Badmouth, was arrested at the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya for being in possession of about 60 ecstasy pills, alongside Briton, Lance Whitmore who was charged with carrying 200 pills, in 2014.

Having narcotics in Thailand is a serious crime, especially since the Thai government declared a “war on drugs” in 2003.

Mastroianni was given two life sentences and in September 2016 lost an appeal to have that sentence reduced. He will be eligible to apply for a transfer to an Australia prison in six years’ time.


Australian schoolteacher Susan Dalziel
Susan Dalziel
Australian schoolteacher Susan Dalziel had flown from Nairobi to Mauritius when she was arrested upon landing for trafficking $1.5 million worth of heroin in November 2005.

Mauritius authorities found 3.5kg of heroin in a hidden compartment of her luggage.

Dalziel, who lived in Kenya at the time, said she was carrying it for a mystery man named “Peter”.

Dalziel continues to maintain she was targeted and used as a decoy for the real smugglers. “Having regard to the huge amount of heroin, the manner in which it was hidden and its street value of 40 million Mauritius rupees, I find that she is a trafficker,” Judge Paul Lam Shang Leen wrote in his case report.

Dalziel, who was not an addict and had no previous offences, pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking, but under the zero tolerance Mauritian policy was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

She continues to serve her time in Mauritius’ maximum security Central Prison, Beau Bassin.

At the time of sentencing she was 52. She’ll be 80 when she’s released.


Paul 'Jock' Palfreeman
Paul 'Jock' Palfreeman
Sydney man Jock Palfreeman is locked up in Bulgaria’s notoriously run down Sofia Central Prison after being found guilty in 2009 of murder with hooliganism and attempted murder.

Palfreeman is serving a 20-year sentence in spartan conditions for stabbing a Bulgarian man to death and wounding another during a street fight in the country’s capital, Sofia.

He had been drinking with friends in downtown Sofia and, according to his version of events, witnessed up to 15 young drunken soccer supporters attacking two Roma gypsies on December 28.

He said he went to the gypsies’ aid, and pulled out his knife when the mob turned on him.

During the fight he stabbed to death 20-year-old law student Andrei Monov and wounded Antoan Zahariev, then aged 19.

Mr Monov was the son of a prominent Bulgarian psychologist.

Mr Palfreeman said he had no choice and was acting in self-defence.

During Mr Palfreeman’s trial, the young Bulgarian men involved on the night denied they’d attacked gypsies.

The gypsies were never identified, or located.

In December 2009, Mr Palfreeman was convicted and sentenced to 20 years’ jail.

Click here to read the full article

Source: news.com.au, Megan Palin, November 13, 2016

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