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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…

Somalia executes five al Shabaab militants

al Shabaab militants
Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region on Saturday executed five people it said were Islamist militants responsible for killing three senior government officials last year, a military court official said.

Abdifatah Haji Aden, chairman of Puntland’s military court, said the five were behind the killings of a director at Puntland’s presidential palace, a military prosecutor and a deputy police commander in the port city of Bossaso in December.

The court said the accused were members of the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group.

“They had admitted being al Shabaab and killing Puntland officials. We had sentenced them earlier and the execution was carried out today,” Aden told Reuters.

“They had killed a deputy police commander of Bossaso, a director at the Puntland palace and a prosecutor in Bossaso.”

Al Shabaab’s insurgency aims to expel African Union peacekeepers, topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa state.

The group has become more active in Puntland after being pushed out of strongholds further south by the African Union force and the Somali army, experts and officials say.

Source: Reuters, April 9, 2017


Somalia Court Executes 5 Militants for Murders of Officials


Somalia executes three suspected militants by firing squad in 2014
Somalia executes three suspected militants by firing squad in August 2014
5 al-Shabab militants convicted of murdering senior officials in the north eastern Somalia town of Bossaso have been executed by firing squad.

The men were sentenced to death in February by a military court in Bosaso port town, the commercial hub of Puntland, Somali federal member state.

The court said the men were involved in identifying possible targets, and carrying out assassinations against officials.

Abdifitah Haji Adam, Chairperson of Puntland military court, told VOA Somali Service that the court found the suspects guilty and gave them the death penalty 2 months ago.

"The men were al-Shabaab members. They were behind assassinations that happened here in Bososo, including the killing of the director of Puntland State presidency and the General Attorney of the army. They included murderers and accomplices. The court found them guilty and sentenced them to death in February, and today the sentences have been carried out," said Adam.


Group's leaders targeted


Al-Shabab, a terrorist group that emerged amid Somalia's years of chaos, once controlled large swathes of South and Central Somalia.

U.S. drone strikes killed some of the group's top leaders, weakening its military power in south and central Somali, causing some of its fighters to spread north to the Puntland mountainous areas to set up bases.

The group still is capable of carrying out frequent suicide bombings and assaults on Somalia's hotels and military targets, proving to be more resilient than expected.

In Puntland, the militant group recently assassinated dozens of government officials, including the attorney general of Puntland Military Courts, AbdiKarim Hasan Fidiye, 3rd deputy commander of Puntalnd Police Forces, and the director of the Presidential Palace.

President Donald Trump recently gave the U.S. military more authority to conduct offensive airstrikes on al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia.


Journalist sentenced


Meanwhile, a court in Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia's breakaway northern territory of Somaliland, has sentenced journalist Abdimalik Muse Oldon to 2 years in prison.

The journalist was arrested 2 months ago for meeting Somalia's new president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in Mogadishu.

The court said Oldon was charged with "engaging in anti-national activities, spreading "false" news and disturbing public order."

The chairman of Somaliland's independent human rights group based in Hargeisa, Guled Ahmed Jama, who is also the defense lawyer of the journalist has described the sentence as unfair and unconstitutional.

"The journalist did nothing against Somaliland and meeting with someone supporting is not constitutionally illegal. We see the sentence as "unfair" and we are appealing," the attorney told VOA.

Source: voanews.com, April 9, 2017

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