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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…

Mentally ill ex-policeman must be spared hanging in Pakistan, say lawyers

A Pakistani court will tomorrow (12th) decide whether to halt the execution of a severely mentally ill man.

At a hearing in Lahore, lawyers for Khizar Hayat – a former policeman who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and is detained in isolation in a prison hospital ward – will argue that his hanging would be illegal.

Mr Hayat’s execution is set for 17th January, even though proceedings in his case are still pending before the Lahore High Court.

In 2015, the courts halted an initial government plan to execute Mr Hayat after seeing jail records documenting his severe mental illness.

The documents include comments from doctors that Mr Hayat “is suffering from active symptoms of severe psychosis”.

The execution of mentally ill people is prohibited under Pakistani and international law.

Four UN Special Rapporteurs have recently criticised Pakistan’s plans to hang another severely mentally ill man, Imdad Ali, after the Supreme Court controversially claimed that schizophrenia was ‘not a mental illness’.

Concerns have also been raised over wrongful executions in Pakistan, after two brothers, Ghulam Sarwar and Ghulam Qadir, who had already been hanged were found to be innocent by the Supreme Court. As in Mr Hayat’s case, a warrant was issued for their execution by the lower courts, despite the pending proceedings in a higher.

Pakistan’s 8,000-strong death row is the largest in the world, and the government has hanged over 421 prisoners since resuming executions in December 2014.

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

“Like Imdad Ali, Khizar Hayat suffers from severe mental illness. It is outrageous that the authorities are trying to rush through his hanging while Imdad’s case is still pending a decision from the Supreme Court and while Khizar’s case is still under consideration by the High Court itself. The issuance of a warrant while proceedings were still pending in another case has already lead to two innocent men going to the gallows. Now Pakistan risks carrying out another wrongful execution of a severely mentally ill prisoner. The court tomorrow must stay Khizar’s execution. Pakistan’s death penalty system is broken, and the government should halt executions or risk grave and irreparable injustices being carried out in its name.”

Source: Reprieve, January 11, 2017. Reprieve is an international human rights organization.


Man hanged over judge's murder in Adiyala Jail


A death row prisoner was executed in Adiyala Jail on Tuesday morning over murdering 2 people, which included a judge, ARY News reported.

According to details, the murderer Naveed Hussain executed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. After execution, the body was handed over to the relatives.

Jail sources said that Hussain had murdered a anti-terrorism court judge Jamshed Khan in 2006. He had escaped from Skardu Jail in 2013 and killed another person during that period.

Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty - on 17th December 2014 - a day after Taliban gunmen attacked Army Public School Peshawar, killing 132 students and 9 teachers.

The bloodshed had shocked the nation and put pressure on the government to do more to tackle the Taliban insurgency.

A moratorium on the death penalty was imposed in 2008 after the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government took reins of power in the country and only 1 execution took place during its 5-year tenure.

Source: arynews.tv, January 10, 2017

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