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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…

Nigerian, Malaysian hanged in Singapore for drug trafficking

"Nigerian national, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, had his death sentence carried out on 18 November 2016 at Changi Prison Complex, Indonesia." - CNB
"Nigerian national, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, had his death sentence carried
out on 18 November 2016 at Changi Prison Complex, Indonesia." - CNB
SINGAPORE - Singapore on Friday executed two foreigners convicted of drug trafficking, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in a statement.

The Nigerian and Malaysian were hanged after their last-minute appeals were rejected.

"A 38-year-old male Nigerian national, Chijioke Stephen Obioha, had his death sentence carried out on 18 November 2016 at Changi Prison Complex," the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said in a statement.

Obioha, who came to Singapore hoping to be a footballer, according to news agency AFP, was convicted of trafficking 2.6 kilograms of cannabis in 2008.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA), the death penalty is imposed if the amount of cannabis trafficked is 500g or more.

Obioha was given the opportunity to be considered for re-sentencing under the new death penalty regime in 2013, which would open up the option of a life-sentence, but opted not to do so.

In May 2015, Obioha changed his mind and elected to be considered for re-sentencing under the new death penalty regime.

Although his request to adduce fresh evidence was rejected, the Court of Appeal ordered a stay of execution for Chijioke Stephen Obioha to allow him time to file an application for re-sentencing.

But in Aug 2016, he withdrew his re-sentencing application. According to CNB, he was notified that the stay of execution would be lifted on Oct 24, 2016 unless he demonstrated by noon on October 21 to the Court of Appeal’s satisfaction that there was good reason not to do so.

Obioha did not put in an application and the stay of execution was lifted on Oct 24.

On Wednesday (Nov 16), his lawyers launched a final bid to have his sentence commuted to life in prison but were turned down the next day.

In a separate case, the CNB also confirmed the execution of 31-year-old Malaysian Devendran Supramaniam, who was convicted of trafficking heroin.

He was convicted of importing 83.36g of diamorphine into Singapore and sentenced to death on July 29, 2014. The offence of trafficking diamorphine (or pure heroin) is punishable by death if the amount imported is 15g or more.

His appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in May 2015.

Devendran's counsel filed for a stay of execution at the eleventh hour on Nov 17, 2016 and to re-open his appeal. The criminal motions were heard and dismissed by the Court of Appeal on the same day. His sentence was carried out on Nov 18.

He had also been given the opportunity to petition the President for clemency but was turned down.

Source: news.asiaone.com, November 18, 2016

Recommended reading: Once a Jolly Hangman, Singapore Justice in the Dock, July 23, 2016

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