Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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…

AHRAZ Publishes Report on Death Penalty in Azerbaijani Turkish-populated Cities in Iran

Public execution in Iran
Southern Azerbaijan: AHRAZ Publishes Report on Death Penalty in Azerbaijani Turkish-populated Cities in Iran (2015-2016)

The Association for the human rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ) published a report on the use of the death penalty in Azerbaijani Turkish-populated cities in Iran between October 2015 and October 2016. 

The death toll amounted to 588 citizens executed in the country, of whom 187 were hanged in the mostly Azerbaijani-populated provinces. 

Half of the executed were accused of drug trafficking, a quarter of adultery and the rest because of political and security reasons. AHRAZ listed a number of cases, specifying the charges.

Below is the report published by AHRAZ:

Report on the death penalty in Azerbaijan's cities in Iran (2015-2016)

From October 2015 to October 2016, totally 588 people were sentenced to death in Iran. Out of this number, 504 people were hanged and executed in this country. During this period, 187 people were hanged in the mostly Azerbaijani Turkish populated provinces such as West Azerbaijan (comprising 10% of the executed in this period), East Azerbaijan (8%), Ardabil (7%), Zanjan (4%), Qazvin (6%), and Hamadan (2%).

57% of the executed were accused of crimes related to drugs, 26% in relation to murder because of adultery, 7% related to political and security reasons, and 4 % other cases.

39% of the executions in this period were reported by the Iranian domestic and official media and 61% were reported by non-governmental and independent media and institutions.

From January-March 2017, 34 people were hanged in the Azerbaijani populated cities in Iran such as Tabriz, Urmia, Ardabil, Zanjan, Qazvin, Maraghe and Maku, who were accused of the crimes related to drugs and murder. Some of the details related to these cases in this short period are mentioned below, as example:

A prisoner, called Rashid Javadi from Jolfa city was hanged in the Tabriz Central Prison on 7 January 2017 because of holding and carrying 106 grams of heroin.

Morteza Heydari from Malekan (East Azerbaijan Province) who was accused of positioning 3 kilos industrial drugs and 3.6 kilos of heroin was hanged in the Maraghe Prison in January 2017. At the time of reporting, 4 other prisoners are to be hanged soon in this prison. These people include: Iraj Ghafouri from Khoy City, accused of crimes in relation to drugs, Akbar Moradi from Maraghe City because of murder, Hoseyn Fatemi from Miandoab (Qoshachay) City as well as Ali Mostofi from Maraghe City.

On 18 January 2017, 3 prisoners accused of holding drugs as well as a child accused of murder at the time of adolescence were executed in the Tabriz Central Prison. These prisoners included Parviz Solati, Qorban Lotfi, Ertekan Karimi, and Hasan Hasan Zadeh, 18 years old who committed murder at the time of 15 years old.

A handicapped prisoner, named Qabl Ali Babir who had missed his 2 legs as well as another prisoner called Sina Hoseyn Pour, both accused of holding drugs, were hanged in the Urmia Central Prison on 21 January 2017.

Hashem Qaraqozlu from Qorveh, accused of holding drugs, was hanged in the Hamadan Central Prison on 29 January 2017.

Taher Saeidi, accused of holding drugs, was hanged in Maku Prison on 01 February 2017.

Kuchak Naji, accused of crimes related to drugs, was hanged in the Urmia Central Prison, on 03 March 2017.

Morad Seyfi from Miandoab (Qoshachay) City, and Mr. Morad Payiz from Maraghe City both accused of crimes related to drugs, were hanged in Maraghe Prison on 05 March 2017.

Four prisoners, accused of crimes related to drugs, were hanged in the Urmia Central Prions on 14 March 2017. These included Changiz Baduzadeh, Akram Hoseyn Pour from Salmas City, Vahed Hamedi from Ardabil City and Kiomars Fridan (nicknamed Delavar) from Urmia City.

Source: unpo.org, April 15, 2017 (wr)

Revolutionary Courts Responsible for Majority of Executions

Revolutionary courts were used to try protesters en masse in 2009
Revolutionary courts were used to try protesters en masse in 2009
The Revolutionary Courts were established in 1979 by the 1st Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. They were temporary courts designed to deal with the officials of the former regime. However, more than 37 years later they continue to operate. 

These courts are responsible for the vast majority of the death sentences issued and carried out over the last 37 years in Iran. The Revolutionary Courts are less transparent than the Public Courts (both criminal and civil) and Revolutionary Court judges are known for greater abuse of their legal powers than other judges. 

Revolutionary Court judges often deny access to legal representation during the investigation phase and prevent lawyers from accessing client files on the basis of confidentiality, or the fact that the lawyers have insufficient "qualifications" to review certain files. Trials lasting only a few minutes, no jury, no defence lawyers and death sentences based on no evidence other than confessions extracted under torture are the hallmarks of the Revolutionary Courts.

All cases regarded as security-related, such as cases involving political and civil activists, and others allegedly involved in corruption and drug-related charges, are processed by the Revolutionary Courts.

Revolutionary Courts are most well known for the summary executions of the political opposition in the 1980s. However, data collected by IHR shows that every year several hundred people are executed on the basis of death sentences issued by the Revolutionary Courts.

IHR reports since 2010 show that 3,210 of the 4,741 executions (68%) in the last 7 years were based on death sentences issued by the Revolutionary Courts.

At least 340 of the 530 executions in 2016 (64%) were based on death sentences issued by the Revolutionary Courts.

Revolutionary Courts also play a key role in the crackdown against human rights defenders and the abolitionist movement. In 2016 the Revolutionary Courts sentenced the human rights defenders Narges Mohammadi and Atena Daemi to 10 years and 7 years in prison respectively for their activities against the death penalty.

On the issue of the lack of due process, the spokesperson of IHR, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: "A sustainable reduction in use of the death penalty is impossible as long as there is no due process. Revolutionary Courts which sentence hundreds of people to death every year are among the key institutions responsible for Iran's violations of due process and must be shut down."

Source: iranhr.net, April 15, 2017

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