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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…

UK allies among world’s worst executioners – report

London
UK allies are bucking a trend towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, according to new figures.

A new Amnesty report has found that there are fewer executions worldwide, and fewer countries using the death penalty. However, the annual study found that far more people than in previous years are being sentenced to death.

British allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan remained in the top ranks of the world’s executioners. Since resuming executions in 2014, Pakistan has executed innocent people as well as juveniles and other vulnerable prisoners; two brothers were recently acquitted by the Supreme Court, a year after they had been prematurely hanged.

Other countries – notably Bahrain – have recently resumed executions following a pause of several years. Three political protestors were executed in the Gulf Kingdom this year.

Egypt’s government was also highlighted in the report as a strong user of the death penalty.

All four countries have close ties with the UK. Britain has continued to provide assistance to their security forces, despite concerns over abuses such as executions, and the use of torture to extract forced ‘confessions’. 

Human rights organization Reprieve has discovered that Bahraini and Saudi police have received repeated training from UK public bodies, despite concerns over the risk of complicity in abuses. 

Reprieve has written to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, asking her to call for the release of three Saudi juveniles who face beheading – and in one case, ‘crucifixion’ – following their alleged attendance at political protests.

Mrs May visited Saudi Arabia last week to promote closer UK-Saudi ties. However, it was unclear whether she raised the cases with the Saudi leadership.

Commenting, Maya Foa – Director at Reprieve – said:

“While the overall trend towards fewer executions is welcome, it’s disturbing that certain governments are increasingly using the death penalty as a means of crushing dissent. Many of those with the worst record on executions are countries which British Prime Minister Theresa May has been actively courting in recent weeks – including Saudi Arabia, where juveniles face beheading and crucifixion, and Bahrain, where political protesters have been executed on the basis of forced ‘confessions.’ The UK government must not let the trade agenda trump concerns for human rights. Mrs May must condemn the use of the death penalty as a tool of oppression.”

Source: Reprieve, April 11, 2017

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