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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…

Saudi Arabia to behead disabled man arrested after protests

Medieval and barbaric: Public beheading in Saudi Arabia
Medieval and barbaric: Public beheading in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi authorities have sentenced a young disabled man to beheading in relation to his alleged attendance at protests, it’s emerged. 

Munir Adam, 23, was arrested in 2012 in the wake of protests in the country’s Eastern Province. He was tortured by Saudi police into ‘confessing’ to involvement in protests. Munir has impairments to both his sight and his hearing, following an accident as a young child. Despite medical records that confirmed his disability – and a doctor's warning that further trauma could worsen his injuries – police beat Munir badly that he lost all hearing in one ear. 

Munir was sentenced to death in the Kingdom’s secretive Specialised Criminal Court, in which three juveniles – Ali al Nimr, Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah al Zaher – also received death sentences in relation to protests. Munir was forced to write his own defence after he was prevented from speaking to a lawyer. Facing charges that included using his mobile phone to organize protests, Munir recanted his ‘confession’, saying that he had only signed statements under torture. He denied the charges, telling the court that he comes from a poor family and had never even owned a mobile phone. 

Munir’s family have described him as a kind, simple young man who loves fishing. Concerns for his fate, and that of the three juveniles, follow the reelection last week of Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council. 

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners, and recent executions in the Kingdom have included juveniles and people who were arrested in relation to protests.

Research last year by human rights organization Reprieve found that, of those identified as facing execution in Saudi Arabia, some 72% were sentenced to death for non-violent alleged crimes, while torture and forced ‘confessions’ were common.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said: 

“Munir Adam’s appalling case illustrates how the Saudi authorities are all too happy to subject the most vulnerable people to the swordman’s blade – including juveniles and people with disabilities. Like so many others, Munir was arrested for allegedly attending protests, and tortured into a ‘confession’ – he was beaten so badly that he lost his hearing. It’s a scandal that Munir now faces beheading on the basis of a bogus statement that he has since recanted. Saudi Arabia’s close allies – including the UK – must urge the Kingdom to release Munir, along with juveniles and others who were sentenced to death for protesting.”

  • Details of Munir Adam's case were reported today by the Times, here.
  • Reprieve’s research on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is available here.
  • More detail on the cases of Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher is available on the Reprieve website, here.

Source: Reprieve, November 4, 2016

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