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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…

Saudi Arabia upholds death sentence for deaf, tortured protester

Saudi Arabia has upheld a protest-related death sentence for a protester who was tortured so badly that he was rendered completely deaf in one ear. The judgment marks the first such move for several months, and comes days after President Trump visited the Kingdom.

Munir Adam (23), who has impaired sight and hearing, was arrested in the wake of political protests in 2012. Despite medical records proving his disability, Saudi police tortured him until he lost all hearing in one ear, and forced him to sign a false confession. The forced statement was used as the sole piece of evidence against him in a secretive trial at the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC).

Today, the appellate division of the SCC is understood to have upheld Munir’s death sentence. He now has only one appeal left before the King signs his execution warrant – after which he could be executed at any time, without notification to this family.

The SCC’s latest death sentence appears to break a period of several months during which the court has not upheld any protest-related death sentences. It comes days after President Trump made his first visit to the Kingdom.

Reprieve had urged the President to use his visit to raise the cases of protesters – including juveniles – who face execution. However, the White House is understood not to have raised human rights issues during the trip. One Administration official – Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross – faced criticism after telling journalists there was “not a single hint of a protester” during the visit.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve said:

“Munir’s case is utterly shocking – the White House should be appalled that our Saudi allies tortured a disabled protester until he lost his hearing then sentenced him to death on the basis of a forced ‘confession.’ Today’s judgment shows that, by failing to raise human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, President Trump has emboldened the Kingdom to continue the torture and execution of protesters. The Trump Administration must now urgently stand up for American values – they must call for the release of Munir, and all others who face execution for simply exercising freedom of expression.”

➤ To read more about the death penalty in Saudi Arabia click here

Source: Reprieve, May 25, 2017

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