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…

International court halts Pakistan execution of Indian convicted of spying

New Delhi (CNN) -- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Pakistan not to carry out the execution of an Indian man convicted of spying while his case is being considered.

Kulbushan Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 "for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan," and sentenced to death last month.

On May 8, India initiated proceedings at the Hague against its regional rival, accusing Islamabad of "egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations" in the sentencing of Jadhav, according to a statement released by the ICJ.

India requested the ICJ order Pakistan not to execute Jadhav until the court can issue a judgment based on India's claims.

The ICJ is the principle judicial arm of the United Nations and settles disputes between member states in accordance with international law.

'Premeditated murder'

India alleges Jadhav was "kidnapped" from Iran where he was on business after retiring from the Indian Navy. He was arrested by Pakistani authorities in Baluchistan on March 3 last year.

Indian authorities say they learned of his arrest through a press release nearly three weeks later and were refused consular access multiple times, in violation of the Vienna Convention.

A military court charged Jadhav on April 11 under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and the Official Secrets Act 1923, both of which provide for the death penalty.

India described the sentencing as an act of "brazen defiance" of the Vienna Convention and warned executing Jadhav would be an act of "premeditated murder."

In a statement, Amnesty International said military courts, which were used in Jadhav's case, have been linked to coerced confessions and unfair trials.

International law

As UN member states, India and Pakistan are both de facto members of the ICJ. Both are also signatories to the Vienna Convention's rules regarding settlement of disputes.

Under the protocols, all disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of the Convention -- which governs diplomatic relations between states -- come under the "compulsory jurisdiction" of the ICJ.

According to the ICJ, any signatory state "undertakes to comply with any decision of the Court in a case to which it is a party." Decisions by the court are binding and noncompliance is very rare.

In its petition to the court, India requested that Pakistan's sentencing of Jadhav be declared illegal and Islamabad directed to "release the convicted Indian national" in the event Pakistan does not annul its domestic judgment in the wake of the ICJ's ruling.

Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister, said the government was "examining this issue."

On Twitter, Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said India's letter to the ICJ was an "attempt to divert attention (from) state sponsored terrorism" in Pakistan.

Jadhav had been "convicted of offenses against (national) security," Asif said.

History of spying

Espionage has long been a fraught subject between Pakistan and India.

In 2013, Sarabjit Singh, an Indian man sentenced to death for spying, died after being attacked by fellow inmates in a Pakistan jail.

More than 40 alleged Pakistani spies have been arrested in India since 2013, according to the government.

India does impose the death penalty but has only carried out three executions since 2007, according to a recent report by Amnesty International on the global death penalty.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, which executed 87 people last year, is the world's fifth biggest executioner.

Source: CNN, Manveena Suri, May 10, 2017

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