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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…

2 New Death Sentences in Gaza; 4 since the start of 2017

Execution of a convicted murderer in Gaza City on October 2, 2013
Execution of a convicted murderer in Gaza City on October 2, 2013
On Tuesday, 24 January 2017, 2 new death sentences by hanging were issued in the Gaza Strip. The 1st one was issued by Deir al-Balah Court of First Instance against (Gh. E.) from the central Gaza Strip after being convicted of premeditated murder of his brother (30). 

The 2nd one was issued on the same day by the Gaza Court of First Instance against (Kh. Sh.) from Gaza City after being convicted of premeditated murder of (N. A.) with the participation of another person.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the excessive application of this punishment in the Gaza Strip in light of absence of fair trial guarantees and lack of fragile interrogation techniques. 

PCHR calls upon the judiciary in Gaza not to issue any death sentence in light of the division and the resulted absence of rule of law and techniques needed to come out with a conviction based on certainty.

The number of issued death sentences amounted to 4 since the beginning of 2017, and the 1st month in which has not ended yet. Meanwhile, no death sentences were issued in the West Bank. The total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 178 sentences since 1994, 20 of which have been issued in the West Bank and 159 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 100 sentences have been issued since 2007.

Since the establishment of the PA, 35 death sentences were applied; 33 of which were in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank. 

Among the sentences applied in the Gaza Strip, 22 were applied since 2007 without the ratification of the Palestinian President in violation of the law, and 3 of which were implemented on 31 May 2016. Those 3 were the 1st death sentences to be implemented without the Palestinian presidential ratification following the formation of the National Unity Government in June 2014. PCHR emphasized that those death sentences were extrajudicial execution and constitute a flagrant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law since they required the ratification of the Palestinian President for implementation.

PCHR follows up with deep concern the excessive application of this serious and irreversible punishment. PCHR is also gravely concerned over the continued application of death penalty in the PA controlled areas, and calls upon the Palestinian President to sign the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty and issue a presidential decree to halt it until the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convenes and abolishes it.

PCHR also calls upon the PLC, if convened, to review all legislations related to the death penalty, especially the Penal Law No. 74 (1936) which remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that is in effect in the West Bank, and enacting a unified penal code that is in line with the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty.

Moreover, PCHR points out that the call for abolition of the death penalty does not reflect tolerance for those convicted of serious crimes, but rather a call for utilizing deterrent penalties that maintain our humanity.

Source: reliefweb.int, January 24, 2017

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