Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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…

Gaza: Hamas executes 3 over commander's murder

The execution was filmed and broadcast live from a nearby building.
The execution was filmed and broadcast live from a nearby building.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas executed 3 people in the Gaza Strip on Thursday over the assassination of 1 of its military leaders allegedly on behalf of Israel.

2 men were hanged to death in Gaza City over the killing of Mazen Faqha in March, while a 3rd was executed by firing squad, said an AFP correspondent who attended the executions.

Hundreds of people were allowed to watch the executions, though the streets around the site were closed to the public.

1 of those executed, Ashraf Abu Leila, was named as the alleged assassin while the other 2 men, who were not named, were convicted of assisting him.

The executions, which come only 2 weeks after the announcement of their arrests, were immediately condemned by human rights activists.

Human Rights Watch said the "rush" to kill the men "smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law".

Mazen Faqha was shot dead on March 24 near his house in Gaza City.

He had been in charge of forming cells for Hamas's military wing in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas immediately blamed its arch-enemy Israel, with which it has fought 3 wars since 2008, and implemented strict border restrictions on those seeking to leave the Palestinian enclave.

Source: al-monitor.com, May 25, 2017

Hams executes three over murder of Gaza commander

The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in Gaza on Thursday said it executed the suspected killer of Mazen Fuqaha, along with his two alleged accomplices.

The Interior Ministry said the the suspected killer and one of the alleged accomplices were hanged, while the second alleged accomplice was shot to death.

Grainy images of what a Gaza-based news organization said were the executions were broadcast on Facebook Live. The images appeared to be shot from a distant building.

Following the executions, Hamas warned Gazans against publishing images of the executions.

The suspected killer and alleged accomplices were sentenced to death by a Hamas military court on Sunday, which said they took part in the killing of Fuqaha.

Fuqaha, formerly a senior leader of Hamas’s armed wing, was mysteriously assassinated on March 24 in front of his house in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza.

Human rights groups criticized the haste in which the three men were sentenced.

“Rushing to put men to death based on an unreviewable decision of a special military court days after announcing their arrests… smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch.

Hamas formed a special court to try the suspected killer and two alleged accomplices, which quickly reached a verdict.

Hamas military prosecutor Fadl al-Jadeili has dismissed human rights groups’ criticism of the special court, saying they do not have all the details of Fuqaha’s assassination.

Since taking over the Gaza Strip in an armed coup in 2007, Hamas has executed 28 people sentenced to death by its courts, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Source: Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2017

Hamas kills three men in execution partially streamed on Facebook

Three men executed by hanging and firing squad were convicted of involvement in killing senior military figure Mazen Faqha

Hamas has killed three men in Gaza accused of assassinating one of its senior members, in executions that appear to have been partially streamed live on Facebook.

The broadcast on the page of Gaza Now, a local news outlet, raises further questions over Facebook’s ability to moderate violent content at a time when its moderation procedures are under scrutiny following leaks of files on how the company deals with controversial and offensive material.

The shaky handheld footage, which appeared to have been filmed on a balcony, was described in Arabic as showing the executions. The Guardian could not verify its authenticity.

Hamas’ interior ministry said two men were hanged on Thursday and one was killed by firing squad for their part in the killing of Mazen Faqha, a senior figure in the military wing of the Islamist group.

In the footage, only distant people, moving vehicles and what appears to be a gallows covered in black cloth are visible. The video appeared to show the same screened gallows structure seen in still photographs taken during its construction.

A recording of the live broadcast, which lasted about 30 minutes, was later taken down.

Since taking over the Gaza Strip in an armed coup in 2007, Hamas has executed 28 people who were sentenced to death by its courts, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Faqha, 38, was killed in a garage in his apartment building in March after dropping off his family. Hamas said the attacker used a weapon with a silencer, allowing him to escape undetected.

Hamas accused Israel of killing Faqha through collaborators and launched a manhunt.

Ashraf Abu Leila, Hisham al-Aloul and Abdallah al-Nashar were quickly tried, sentenced on 16 May and executed just over a week later, raising questions about the judicial process.

The killings were condemned by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights, which said the special field military court that issued the sentences “was constituted solely for this trial, the first such instance since the Hamas takeover of Gaza”.

Human Rights Watch questioned the speed of the trial process and its reliability, and the use of the death penalty by Hamas.

Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of HRW’s Middle East division, said: “Rushing to put men to death based on an unreviewable decision of a special military court, days after announcing their arrests and airing videoed confessions, smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law.

“Reliance on confessions in a system where coercion, torture and deprivation of detainee’s rights are prevalent, and [there are] other apparent due process violations, further taint[s] the court’s verdicts. Death as government-sanctioned punishment is inherently cruel and always wrong, no matter the circumstance.”

Speaking before the executions, Amnesty International said the court “utterly disregarded international fair trial standards”.

Source: The Guardian, May 25, 2017

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