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…

Malaysian Government's new bill could abolish death penalty within weeks

Malaysia has announced plans for a new bill that could abolish the death penalty within weeks and bring in a moratorium on executions effective immediately, a move that could save a Sydney grandmother currently facing execution for drug charges.

The announcement was made on October 10, the World Day Against the Death Penalty, and the bill is scheduled to be tabled at the next parliamentary sitting that will begin on Monday.

"All death penalty will be abolished. Full stop," Datuk Liew Vui Keong — minister in charge of law in the Prime Minister's Department — told media at an event at University of Malaya.

Drug offences account for the largest number of executions in Malaysia, where current laws enforce mandatory capital punishment for crimes ranging from murder and kidnapping to drug offences and treason.

Amnesty International reported in March that 799 people on death row were convicted of drug trafficking, including 416 foreign nationals.

The abolition of the death penalty could save the life of Sydney grandmother Maria Exposto, who was found guilty of drug trafficking by the Court of Appeal of Malaysia in May.

The 54-year-old was caught with 1.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route from Shanghai to Melbourne in 2014.

An acquittal in December was overturned in May and Exposto is again facing death by hanging, which is the mandatory punishment for drug trafficking.

'A breakthrough for the region'

Amnesty International welcomed the decision and urged other nations in the region to follow suite.

Regionally, only Cambodia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste have abolished the death penalty.

"This is a positive move for Malaysia, as we are hoping more countries, particularly in South East Asia, to eventually demolish the execution practices," Usman Hamid, Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, told the ABC.

"I think this is a breakthrough for the region and good news, especially for the migrant workers from the Philippines and Indonesia, as some of them are facing death sentences in Malaysia."

While Indonesia carried out the highest number of executions over the past five years, Mr Hamid said the country had been making improvements.

"At least we are moving in the right direction," he said. "We have had no executions in the last two years and we also changed the death penalty to an alternative sentence, no longer mandatory punishment."

In 2017, Malaysia carried out four executions by hanging.

To date, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

Source: abc.net.au, Tracey Shelton and Erwin Renaldi, October 11, 2018

Malaysia to abolish death penalty; Bill may be tabled soon: Reports

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has decided to abolish the death penalty and a proposed Bill is expected to be tabled at the next parliament sitting, local media reported on Wednesday (Oct 10).

The minister in charge of law in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong said the issue was discussed when the Cabinet met on Wednesday morning.

“All death penalty will be abolished. Full stop," the Malay Mail quoted Liew as saying after an event at Universiti Malaya. 

“All the papers are in the final stage. The Attorney-General has also indicated to us that it is ready to be tabled, hopefully in this (parliamentary) session,” he added.

The next parliament sitting starts on Monday.

The minister also called for a moratorium on all executions until the death penalty is abolished. 

''Since we are abolishing the sentence, all executions should not be carried out," Liew said as reported by The Star. ''We will inform the Pardons Board to look into various applications for convicts on the (death penalty) waiting list to either be commuted or released."

Malaysia currently has the death penalty for crimes such as murder and drug trafficking.

The Pakatan Harapan government had said after winning the general elections in May that it would review the death sentence and other “unsuitable” national security laws. 

Last month, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad came to the defence of a man facing the death penalty for selling cannabis oil to patients, saying his sentence should be reviewed.

Source: channelnewsasia.com, October 10, 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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