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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…

Pakistan hangs 2 'hard core' militants convicted by military courts

Pakistan has hanged 2 "hard core" Taliban terrorists convicted of terrorism-related offenses by controversial military courts which were revived after 2 years ignoring opposition from rights groups. 

The executions were carried out at a high-security prison in Punjab province Tuesday, the army said in a late-night statement. It said the 2 "hard core terrorists" were involved in committing "heinous offences relating to terrorism, including killing of civilians, attacking Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, polio vaccination team and employees of a NGO."

The army did not elaborate where the trials were held and when the initial punishment was announced. 

The 2 convicts were identified as Muhammad Shahid Omar and Fazl e Haq - both active members of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Military courts were restored last month for another 2 years after their initial 2-year term expired in January.

The courts were set up after a constitutional amendment after a terror attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014 killed more than 150 people, most of them students. 

While Pakistani authorities maintain the military courts are an "effective deterrent" against terrorism, rights groups question transparency of the trials because of the secrecy surrounding the special tribunals.

The military courts have handed down the death penalty to more than 160 militants and yesterday's hangings took the number of those executed so far to 23.

Also, the executions came on a day when Amnesty International in a worldwide report said Pakistan reduced the number of executions by 73 % in 2016 compared to the year before.

Source: The Times, April 13, 2017

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