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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…

Turkey Coup Trial: Court to Jail 104 Ex-Military for Life

Turkey military coup, July 2016
A Turkish court has sentenced 104 former military officers to life in prison for their involvement in a 2016 coup attempt, state media report.

They were given “aggravated life sentences”, which come with tougher terms than a normal life sentence.

The country’s president had previously said he backed reintroducing the death penalty for coup plotters.

The failed coup to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left at least 260 dead and 2,200 injured on 15 July 2016.

The Turkish government has since led a crackdown on alleged coup supporters, with the dismissal of more than 150,000 state employees and the arrest of some 50,000 people.

Of the 280 ex-military people on trial, the court in Izmir also served lesser sentences to a further 52 defendants.

Sitting in Izmir in western Turkey, the court gave 21 people 20 years in prison for “assisting the assassination of the president”, while 31 others were sentenced to between seven and 11 years for “membership of a terrorist organisation”, state news agency Anadolu reported.

President Erdogan had backed reintroducing the death penalty for coup plotters. He also said they should wear Guantanamo Bay-style uniforms. Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004.

The Turkish authorities accused a movement loyal to the Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of organising the 2016 plot.

President Erdogan
Mr Gulen, who has been in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, denies any involvement, and Washington has so far resisted calls from the Turkish authorities to extradite him.

Rebel soldiers had attempted to overthrow the government overnight and plotters tried to detain Mr Erdogan as he holidayed in an Aegean resort.

However, he had left 15 minutes before and the coup was thwarted by civilians and soldiers loyal to the president.

A purge followed the coup, in which thousands of public employees from police officers to teachers were sacked or arrested under suspicion of stirring up dissent.

Mr Erdogan’s critics say he is using the purge to stifle political dissent.

Source: Signal, May 22, 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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