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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…

India: President converts 4 tribals' death sentences to life terms

President Pranab Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee has disposed of all mercy petitions of death penalties pending before him till date.

The latest was the case of Bara massacre accused of Gaya district, where 32 Bhumihar Brahmins were killed by the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), a banned outfit.

In 2001, Krishna Mochi along with 3 others, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Sing, alias Dharu Sing, were awarded capital punishments by a sessions court in connection with the massacre.

They were tried under the provisions of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. In 2002, the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty by a majority of 2:1 in a 3-judge Bench. Justice M B Shah differed from the view of the majority. He acquitted Sing and commuted the death sentences of the 3 others to life.

All the 4 convicts have been lodged at Bhagalpur Central Jail. Their mercy petitions were dispatched from the jail on March 2, 2003. Since then, it was pending with the Union Home Ministry. Only in the month of August last year, the Home Ministry sent the mercy petition to President Mukherjee for his consideration.

The President sought legal opinion on the matter because of a recent landmark judgment of the Apex Court which overturned an earlier judgment and drew a distinction between murders related to terrorism and other kinds of murders.

After considering the merit of the case carefully, the President endorsed the view of the dissenting judge except for the acquittal of the accused. In the month of January this year, the President reduced the death sentences of those convicts to life imprisonment. This was the last mercy petition pending before him. During his tenure, President Mukherjee has accepted 4 mercy petitions and rejected 28.

Among them were high profile cases including dreaded Pakistan terrorists Ajmal Kasab, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon and Afzal Guru of Jammu and Kashmir which drew international interest and was debated widely.

Source: milleniumpost.in, January 15, 2017

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