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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Man Sentenced to Death for Killing Cops in Tehran Riot

Public hanging in Iran
An Iranian court on Monday handed down death sentence for a rioter that had driven a bus into a group of police officers during a February mob attack in north Tehran.

Mohammad Salas, driver of the bus that killed 3 police forces and wounded a number of others during the February 19 disturbance on Tehran's Pasdaran Street, was sentenced to death under a court ruling released on Monday.

The convict appeared in 3 court sessions before facing the death penalty. He will have a period of 20 days for an appeal to the court.

During the clashes on Pasdaran Street, Salas drove a bus into a group of police officers, killing 3 and wounding a number of others. 

In a separate attack, 1 member of the Basij forces was run over and killed, while another was stabbed to death.

Police spokesperson said 30 police forces were injured and many public and private properties were destroyed in the riot.

The security forces were trying to quell a disturbance involving Gonabadi Dervishes, a Sufi community in Iran.

In comments after the attack, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said security forces will harshly counter violent law-breaking to prevent a recurrence of the recent mob attack.

Source: tasnimnews.com, March 20, 2018



Iran Sentences Sufi To Death Over Killing Of 3 Police Officers


Iran has sentenced a man to death for killing 3 police officers during clashes in Tehran last month between security forces and members of a Sufi order.

State media reported on March 19 that Mohammad Reza Salas can appeal his verdict within 20 days.

Salas rammed a bus into a group of police officers on February 19 during violent battles between security forces and followers of the Sufi Gonabadi order, known as dervishes.

During court hearings, Salas said repeatedly that he did not kill the police officers intentionally, according to local media.

The dervishes were protesting the arrest of members of the sect, as well as rumors that their 90-year-old leader Nourali Tabandeh would soon be detained by police, despite assurances by the authorities that they had no such intention.

2 members of the paramilitary Basij force, which is linked to the hard-line conservative Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, were also killed in the skirmishes, authorities said.

Some 300 dervishes were reportedly arrested following the violence.

The daughter of one of them told RFE/RL's Radio Farda on March 4 that her father died while in custody.

Tayebeh Raji said that authorities had informed her family that Mohammad Raji died after falling into a coma caused by "bleeding and injuries."

More than 80 Iran-based political and rights activists said in a statement issued on March 3 that they were concerned over "unpleasant reports" concerning conditions for the Gonabadi dervishes and their situation behind bars.

The statement, published by opposition websites including Kalame, called for fair legal processes concerning indictments filed against the detained Sufis.

"We expect the judiciary to respect the laws and the civil rights of [detainees] fully," the statement said.

Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is not illegal in Iran but rights groups accuse the Iranian government of harassment and discrimination against their followers, including the Gonabadis, one of the largest Sufi sects.

In March 2017, the UN special rapporteur for Iran expressed concern over the state targeting of members of Sufi groups, saying they "continue to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention and are often accused of national security crimes."

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 20, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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