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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…

Saudi spin over juvenile on death row Ali al-Nimr

The Saudi Arabian authorities have tried to distract from their illegal use of the death penalty by publicising the brief visit of Ali al-Nimr, a young man sentenced to death for attending a protest when he was just 17, to see his father in hospital.

Ali's father Mohammad was shot in the leg by Saudi Arabian security forces during a brutal crackdown on opposition in Al-Awamiyah in eastern Saudi Arabia. Mohammad al-Nimr tweeted a photograph of Ali by his bedside on Friday.

Despite the fact they were responsible for his father's injuries, the Saudi authorities only allowed Ali to visit for one hour before returning him to prison with the threat of execution still hanging over him. Ali was escorted by Saudi security forces throughout his visit.

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, said: "This is a cynical piece of Saudi spin. Ali should be permanently back with his family and if they had any compassion or sense of justice, King Salman and Crown Prince bin Nayef would admit he should never have been convicted of any crime and release him and all other juveniles from the threat of execution immediately. A one hour visit to hospital cannot make up for years of abuse suffered by innocent young protestors."

Ali's death sentence was confirmed by Saudi Arabia's controversial Specialised Criminal Court in 2015, following an internationally-condemned trial in which a confession extracted under torture was relied upon. Ali is among several juveniles facing execution for participating in protests, including Dawood al-Marhoun, just 17, and Abdullah al-Zahra, just 15, when he was arrested.

The Saudis have launched a widely criticised military campaign in the town of al- Awamiyah in Al-Qatif, which has seen dozens injured and condemnation by the UN.

On 6 June the Specialised Criminal Court upheld 14 death sentences against protesters, including a disabled young man Mounir al-Ahdam, amid fears their execution could be expedited.

Source: Reprieve, June 17, 2017

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