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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…

Belarus Carries Out First Execution This Year; EU Urges Moratorium

Syarhey Vostrykau in a defendant's cage in May 2016
Syarhey Vostrykau in a defendant's cage in May 2016
Belarus is believed to have carried out its first execution of the year.

Homel resident Syarhey Vostrykau, who was found guilty of rapes and murders involving extreme brutality, was most likely executed last month on either April 13 or April 29, the Belarusian human rights center Vyasna said in a report posted on its website.

"Representatives of the group Human Rights Activists Against the Death Penalty in Belarus have learned that the death sentence handed out to Homel resident Siarhei Vostrykau has been carried out. 

His mother has received a relevant report from the Homel Regional Court," Vyasna said on its website on May 5.

Judges in the regional court in the southeastern city of Homel found Vostrykau, 33, guilty in May of last year of kidnapping, raping, and murdering two women in 2014 and 2015. 

The case was heard behind closed doors.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe which still applies the death penalty. The execution is carried out by firing squad.

The European Union issued a statement reaffirming "its strong opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances."

"The continued application of the death penalty goes counter to Belarus's stated willingness to engage with the international community, including the European Union, on the matter and to consider the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a May 6 statement.

"The European Union urges Belarus...to commute the remaining death sentences and to introduce without delay a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition," Kocijancic said.

Belarus carried out four executions last year. Before 2016, an execution had not been carried out under the Belarusian legal system since November 2014.

Source: RFE, May 6, 2017

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