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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…

Iran commutes death sentences of six juvenile offenders

Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
UN says Iran executing people who had committed crimes as children at ‘an unprecedented rate’

Tehran: Iran has commuted death sentences against six juvenile offenders following UN criticism it was executing people who had committed crimes as children at “an unprecedented rate”, a report said on Thursday.

Prosecutors asked the judiciary to reconsider 10 cases, the Shahrvand newspaper quoted Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying.

“Six requests were accepted and their death sentences overturned,” he said.

International conventions outlaw the death penalty for offences committed by minors but Iranian law allows executions of those convicted of such offences once they reach 18.

However, it also allows for death sentences to be commuted to compensation to victims’ families if it is determined that the juvenile offenders did not understand the full gravity of their actions.

Shahrvand did not specify what the judiciary decided in the other four cases referred to it.

Last week, UN human rights experts appealed to Iran to cancel the looming execution of Hamid Ahmadi who was 17 when he was sentenced to death in 2009 for the fatal stabbing of a young man during a fight.

They said that last month they intervened to halt the execution of another juvenile offender, and that they had learnt too late that two others were hanged on January 15 and 18.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 9, 2017

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