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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…

Singapore: Drug trafficker hanged after last-ditch bid to reopen case fails

Singapore's Changi prison
Convicted Singaporean drug trafficker Hishamrudin Mohd was hanged last Friday in the Changi Prison Complex after failing on the preceding day - in a final court bid - to reopen his case.

Hishamrudin, 56, had been convicted of trafficking in 34.94g of diamorphine and sentenced to death by the High Court on Feb 2, 2016.

A Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) spokesman said last Saturday that Hishamrudin was arrested in an operation on Oct 7, 2010, during which 59 packets containing 604.05g of powdery and granular substances were recovered from his car.

The substances were analysed and found to contain 3.56g of diamorphine, or pure heroin.

He was taken to his home, where 193 packets containing 4,061.68g of powdery and granular substances found to contain 34.94g of pure heroin were recovered.

The CNB spokesman noted that the Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine trafficked is more than 15g.

Hishamrudin was accorded due process under the law and his appeal against his conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on July 3 last year. His petitions for clemency to the President also failed.

But last Thursday afternoon, he filed a criminal motion to reopen the case and it was heard before Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Judith Prakash, and Justice Hoo Sheau Peng.

Hishamrudin addressed the court in person on the written submissions he had forwarded earlier.

Lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam and Suang Wijaya acted in court as his "McKenzie friends", to help clarify issues. A McKenzie friend helps a litigant who acts in person in court.

The court, in dismissing his application, found that there was nothing new in substance in his written or oral arguments as the points had been previously heard and rejected.

The Courts found that he had not satisfied the criteria that would allow judges to exercise some discretion at sentencing under the amended Misuse of Drugs Act, as his involvement in the offence was thought to be more than simply transporting drugs and he had not raised any concerns about the state of his mental health in order to seek diminished responsibility for the crime.

Hishamrudin Bin Mohd has maintained his innocence since his arrest and holds that proceedings against him were unfair. At his trial and appeal, he stated that he was assaulted by officers of the Central Narcotics Bureau during his arrest and that officials had planted and tampered with evidence against him. 

According to a family member, he discharged several lawyers assigned to him under the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences as they did not respect his defence instructions, and eventually chose to represent himself at trial and during his appeal. He therefore elected not to appeal for clemency from the President, and instead sought for months to reopen the case through further appeals. 

Source: tnp.sg, Amnesty International, March 19, 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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