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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…

Indonesia: Mary Jane Veloso remains in limbo two years later

Mary Jane Veloso
Mary Jane Veloso
Mary Jane Veloso of Nueva Ecija has remained in death row in Indonesia after she was saved at the last moment by appeals from international groups as well as Philippine officials. She was due to be executed for drug trafficking along with two Australians, a Brazilian, four Nigerians, and an Indonesian in April, 2015. But just hours before dawn, she was led back to her cell while the eight other death convicts were executed by firing squad.

President Joko Widodo heeded appeals of those who said Mary Jane had been a victim of human traffickers and asked that she be spared so she could testify against them. Her case is pending to this day and she remains a death convict, unless she is granted a pardon by President Widodo.

In an interview last week, Widodo who had refused all requests for pardons in the last four years said he would consider a moratorium on executions, “but I must first ask my people.”He appeared to have made one concession from his firm stand on the death penalty – only drug convicts from countries that implement the death penalty were executed in Indonesia last year.

Mary Jane may have benefited from this concession last year but if the Philippine Congress revives the death penalty this year, it will no longer help her. 

The bill reinstating the death penalty for drug crimes was swiftly approved last March 7 by the House of Representatives and has now been sent to the Senate.

In this connection, Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Mission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said last January that If Congress enacts the death penalty bill into law and we start executing our own convicts, “we will lose any moral authority to ask for clemency for our Filipinos who have been sentenced to death abroad.”

Thus two years after she was saved from execution at the last minute in April, 2015, Mary Jane remains in limbo and her fate hinges largely on the decision of President Widodo and the Indonesian people whose views he will seek in a survey. 

It also hinges in part on our own government. 

If Congress revives the death penalty as sought by the new administration, it is not likely that she will be saved from execution much longer.

Source: Manila Bulletin, April 3, 2017

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