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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…

Palace: 'We can claim mercy' for OFWs on death row

Jakatia Pawa
Jakatia Pawa
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reacts to a CBCP official who says the Philippines will lose 'any moral authority and legality to ask clemency' for Filipinos on death row if it restores the death penalty

Following the death of Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jakatia Pawa who was executed by hanging in Kuwait, several groups again urged the government not to revive the death penalty in the country.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for instance, said on Thursday, January 26, that Pawa's death "should make us all advocates against the death penalty."

In a CBCP News article, Bishop Ruperto Santos of the CBCP's Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People was also quoted as saying the government should not push through with death penalty because its reimposition will result [in] the country losing "any moral authority and legality to ask clemency for our Filipinos who are sentenced to death."

Reacting to the CBCP, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Saturday, January 28, said that when it comes to seeking clemency for OFWs on death row, "we cannot claim ascendancy, but we can claim perhaps clemency and mercy depending on the merit of each case."

"We understand where the CBCP is coming from. However, we also have to understand that certain countries, especially those in the Middle East, condemn certain alleged crimes. But we have to understand that they operate from a different set of rules," Abella said in an interview with government-run radio dzRB.

He added: "They don't go by Western civil law. They go by Shariah, for example. They have different procedures. We're not saying we're not going to fight for that. However, we cannot claim ascendancy, but we can claim perhaps clemency and mercy, depending on the merit of each case."

Pawa, a 44-year-old mother of 2, was executed on Wednesday, January 25, even as she asserted her innocence in the murder of her Kuwaiti employer's 22-year-old daughter. Her execution caught the Philippines off guard.

Abella said the Philippines hired "top caliber lawyers" for Pawa's case.

"The case really seemed to be tilted against her. But we do not neglect the situation of our fellow Filipinos abroad."

Restoring capital punishment for heinous crimes is a priority measure of the Duterte administration, whose ongoing war on drugs has killed more than 7,000 people in the last 6 months.

Source: rappler.com, January 29, 2017

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