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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…

Indonesian Bishops call on Government for a moratorium on death penalty

The Indonesian Bishops have officially asked the government for a moratorium on the death penalty. As reported to Fides by Fr. Paulus Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, the letter sent to the executive states that "it is appropriate for the government to carefully assess the implementation of the death penalty in order to know the impact of capital punishment, and to ensure that executions have actually had the deterrent effects, discouraging crime". In an interview with Agenzia Fides, Fr. Siswantoko reiterated that the Catholic Church has repeatedly asked for a moratorium "but so far the government has not listened to the voices who reject capital punishment".

At a recent conference on the theme "Right to life and the death penalty in the theology of religions", Fr. Siswantoko said that "the Catholic Church still harbors hopes for a moratorium on the death penalty", citing religious but also civilian reasons.

In fact, according to the priest, Catholics reject the death penalty for the fundamental respect for life, as explained by the encyclical Evangelium Vitae of 1995, of Pope John Paul II. On the other hand "the death penalty is contrary to the Pancasila (the paper of the five underlying principles of the state, ed) and to the Indonesian Constitution, claiming the protection of life and fundamental human rights". "It was later shown that the death penalty does not reduce crime", he said.

Since 2015 dozens of prisoners for drug offenses have been executed in Indonesia: "Has there been a significant impact and real deterrent effects?" asked the priest, noting that the spread and drug trafficking is a phenomenon at a national and international level.

Among the other speakers who intervened, Gomar Gultom, representative of the "Communion of Churches in Indonesia" confirmed the vision that "the death penalty has no deterrent effect and it is not an ethical tool". 

Muslim professor Siti Musdah Mulia, at the Islamic University "Syarif Hidayatullah" and secretary general of the Indonesian Conference on "Religions for Peace" recalled that Islam teaches human respect and protection from acts of discrimination, exploitation and violence. "The death penalty is inconsistent with religious teachings and faiths that revere the importance of life, preserving it as the greatest blessing of God the Creator. Islam teaches the dignity of human beings, defining them as the most perfect creatures of God. The death penalty is an affront to the greatness and omnipotence of God. "Finally, he said, "the death penalty is inconsistent with the values of democracy and the principles of human rights".

Source: Fides News Agency, December 14, 2016

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