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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…

Indonesian court sentences French drug smuggler to death

A court in Indonesia on Monday sentenced Frenchman Felix Dorfin for drug trafficking.
Mataram (Indonesia) (AFP) -- An Indonesian court sentenced Frenchman Félix Dorfin to death for drug smuggling on Monday, in a shock verdict after prosecutors asked for a 20-year jail term.

Dorfin, 35, was arrested in September carrying a suitcase filled with about three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of drugs including ecstasy and amphetamines at the airport in Lombok, a holiday island next to Bali where foreigners are routinely arrested on drugs charges.

Indonesia has some of the world's strictest drug laws -- including death by firing squad for some drug traffickers and it has executed foreigners in the past.

While prosecutors had not asked for the death penalty, Indonesian courts have been known to go beyond their demands.

"After finding Félix Dorfin legally and convincingly guilty of importing narcotics ... (he) is sentenced to the death penalty," presiding judge Isnurul Syamsul Arif told the court.

He cited Dorfin's involvement in an international drug syndicate and the amount of drugs in his possession as aggravating factors.

"The defendant's actions could potentially do damage to the younger generation," Arif added.

Serge AtlaouiThe Frenchman made headlines in January when he escaped from a police detention centre and spent nearly two weeks on the run before he was captured.

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A female police officer was arrested for allegedly helping Dorfin escape from jail in exchange for money.

It was not clear if the jailbreak played any role in Monday's stiffer-than-expected sentence.

Dorfin, who is from Béthune in northern France, sat impassively through much of the hearing in front of three judges, as a translator scribbled notes beside him.

He said little as he walked past reporters to a holding cell after the sentencing. "Dorfin was shocked," the Frenchman's lawyer Deny Nur Indra told AFP.

"He didn't expect this at all because prosecutors only asked for 20 years."

The lawyer said he would appeal against the sentence, describing his client as a "victim" who did not know the exact contents of what he was carrying.

"If he had known, he wouldn't have brought it here," Indra added.

Lindsay Sandiford
In 2015, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran -- the accused ringleaders of the Bali Nine heroin smuggling gang -- were executed by firing squad in Indonesia.

The case sparked diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish the death penalty.

The Bali Nine gang's only female member was released from jail last year, while some others remain in prison.

A number of foreigners in Indonesia are on death row including cocaine-smuggling British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford and Serge Atlaoui, a Frenchman who has been on death row since 2007.

Last year, eight Taiwanese drug smugglers were sentenced to death by an Indonesian court after being caught with around a tonne of crystal methamphetamine.

Source: France24, Agence France-Presse, Staff, May 20, 2019


Indonesia sentences Frenchman to death for drug crimes


Indonesia flag
Félix Dorfin has been sentenced to death in a surprise verdict after prosecutors asked for a 20-year jail term. Indonesia has some of the world's strictest drug laws — including death by firing squad.

A court in Indonesia on Monday sentenced Frenchman Félix Dorfin for drug trafficking. Prosecutors had requested 20 years' imprisonment.

"After finding Félix Dorfin legally and convincingly guilty of importing narcotics ... [he] is sentenced to the death penalty," presiding judge Isnurul Syamsul Arif told the court on Lombok Island.

The 35-year-old man from Bethune in northern France was arrested at the end of September at the airport on Lombok — a tourist island near Bali. He had arrived from Singapore with, according to the authorities, nearly four kilograms of cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines hidden in a double-bottomed suitcase.

French fugitive


Dorfin had escaped from police detention in January and went on the run for 11 days before being recaptured in a forest on Lombok Island. 

Bali's Kerobokan prison
A female police officer was arrested for allegedly helping him escape in exchange for money. It was not clear if the jailbreak played any role in Monday's stiffer-than-expected sentence.

The death sentence came as a shock to Dorfin and his lawyer, Deny Nur, as prosecutors had only requested 20 years imprisonment. 


Nur said he would appeal against the death sentence. He described Dorfin as a "victim" who did not know the exact contents of what he was carrying.

Indonesia has not executed anyone since 2016, but a number of foreigners are still on death row including Frenchman Serge Atlaoui and Lindsay Sandiford, a cocaine-smuggling British grandmother, who have been on death row since 2007 and 2013 respectively.

Source: Deutsche Welle, Staff, May 20, 2019


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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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