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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…

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia urges Malaysian government to intervene in case of death row inmate in Singapore

"S Prabagaran has always maintained his innocence."
"S Prabagaran has always maintained his innocence."
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has called on his country's Foreign Ministry to look into the case of S Prabagaran, reported Malaysiakini. Prabagaran a Malaysian is facing the death sentence here for drug trafficking.

Anwar said that he would normally not want to comment on people facing drug trafficking charges, but he thinks this is a proper case to be brought to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Prabagaran was arrested on 12 April 2012 when he was just 24 years old, for a narcotic trafficking offence. He has been on death row for more than 4 years since 2012, and is awaiting the result of his clemency petition to the Singapore President.

The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty activists who have been fighting to save Prabagaran, allege that he is being deprived of his life in a manner that is in breach of the principles of the separation of powers, the fundamental rules of natural justice, and the rule of law.

"In respect of a person who has been convicted of a drug offence that is punishable with death under the Second Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA), Section 33B(2)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) provides that the Public Prosecutor may certify that a person convicted of a drug offence punishable with the death penalty has substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in disrupting drug activities. If the Public Prosecutor so certifies, and if the offender is also merely a courier, then the sentencing judge has the discretion to impose life imprisonment in lieu of the death penalty. If the Public Prosecutor does not so certify, then the sentencing judge must sentence the offender to the death penalty.

As discussed above, although in this case Praba has maintained his innocence, he has, in fact, done his best to provide CNB with credible leads that could well have resulted in persons involved in drug activities (i.e., Balu and Nathan) being apprehended."

They argue that the right to a fair trial is one of the most important fundamental human rights and that the death sentence imposed on Prabagaran violates the right to fair trial under customary international law.

The activists said "the Public Prosecutor's determination of whether or not substantive assistance was provided is too fluid and unstable a standard by which to determine the penalty which an offender should receive."

Anwar in seeming to agree with the activists, said that Prabagaran was denied a fair trial.

"There is allegedly a denial of key witnesses and this deprives opportunity for the defence to present its case. This is a proper case for the foreign minister and the prime minister to take to the ICJ," he said.

Source: The Independent, January 18, 2017

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