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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…

Singapore: Activists decry hurried execution schedule of convicted drug courier

The following is a joint-press release by We Believe in Second Chances and the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign.

We Believe in Second Chances and the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) note with dismay that the execution of Jeffrey bin Jamil has been abruptly scheduled for this Friday, 21 April 2017. Jeffrey is now known as Jeffrey Marquez Abineno.

Jeffrey (aged 52) was convicted by the High Court of trafficking 45.26 grams of diamorphine into Singapore on 28 November 2014. His appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 2 December 2016. He appealed to the President of Singapore for clemency, but was refused a pardon on 17 April 2017 - the same day his family was informed of his scheduled execution.

We are alarmed by the speed at which Jeffrey's execution is to be carried out. In previous cases, there was more time between the President's rejection of clemency and the execution. We note with concern this decreasing window of time between notifying the inmate's lawyer and the scheduled execution. Families of death row inmates need time to make funeral preparations, inform their relatives, visit the inmate, and ready themselves emotionally. The inmate's lawyers need time to review their case and pursue other legal avenues where necessary. There should be a reasonable notice period, and at the very least a consistently enforced notice period, for the inmate's family and lawyers to plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements.

The death penalty is the harshest and most final punishment that a court can mete out to any individual. It is a punishment that has been abandoned by the majority of criminal justice systems in the world. Moreover, decades of research have not been able to prove that the death sentence is more effective than other forms of punishment in deterring crime and keeping society safe.

Furthermore, should Jeffrey's hanging on Friday proceed as planned, it would take place under a cloud of uncertainty over its international legality and legitimacy. Lawyers for 2 of Jeffrey's fellow death row inmates - Malaysians S Prabagaran and K Datchinamurthy - have commenced judicial review proceedings in Malaysia challenging Singapore's drug prosecution regime on grounds that it constitutes a breach of fair trial. Their case is now before the Court of Appeal of Malaysia. Should it succeed, Putrajaya would be compelled to institute legal proceedings against Singapore before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for denying its citizens a fair trial.

This impacts Jeffrey's case substantially. If the ICJ ultimately rules that Singapore's current drug prosecution regime breaches the accused's right to a fair trial, Jeffrey and his family would pay the high price of him being one of the last men hanged under a regime found to be in breach of customary international law.

We urge the Singaporean authorities to halt the execution of Jeffrey Marquez Abineno. The death penalty is irreversible. Once it is carried out, a wrongful execution is an injustice that can never be rectified.

Source: theindependent.sg, April 18, 2017

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