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

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…

10 Indian convicts get Ramadan pardon, saved from death penalty in UAE

Dubai courts
They will return home next week - three years ahead of their actual release date

Ten Indians, whose death sentence was commuted in 2017, will now return home next week - three years ahead of their actual release date - thanks to a Ramadan pardon they have received. 

The convicts were on death row in Al Ain for the murder of a Pakistani national Mohamed Farahan Mohamed Riyad. However, they were saved after an Indian expat paid blood money of Dh200,000 to the victim's kin in 2017.

And now, following the Ramadan pardon, the convicts - who were to serve three years in jail till 2020 - will walk home next week.

Last year, Indian expat SPS Oberoi, chairman of NGO Sarbat da Bhala, had paid the blood money to secure the release of the 10 Indians, all from Punjab. 

The convicts are: Satminder Singh, Chander Shekhar, Chamkor Singh, Kalwinder Singh, Balwinder Singh, Dharamivir Singh, Harijinder Singh, Tarsem Singh, Gurupreet Singh and Jagit Singh.

Oberoi told Khaleej Times that on Monday, the Al Ain court completed procedures to release the six convicts and the clearance papers of the remaining four will be done by next week. He added the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi is preparing temporary passports and tickets to facilitate their travel to India after completion of the legal procedures.

The accused had killed the Pakistani national on July 12, 2015, during a group clash over bootlegging. The Al Ain Police arrested the accused on October 26, 2016.

The Al Ain court had convicted and awarded death sentence to all of them on December 7, 2016. The case was referred to Al Ain Court of Appeal on December 21, 2016. It was then that Oberoi moved a petition before the court requesting it to give him an opportunity to negotiate with the family of the victim by offering them blood money. Oberoi assigned the case to a lawyer, while sending his team to persuade the victim's family in Pakistan to pardon the accused.

Oberoi submitted the copy of the agreement on February 2, 2017. One of the victim's kin appeared before the court on March 22, 2017, and stated that the family was willing to pardon the 10 young Indians. The court accepted it.

Source: Khaleej Times, May 30, 2018

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