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…

Indonesian drug kingpin sentenced to death for smuggling meth from Malaysia

Indonesian flag
The Medan District Court has sentenced Junaidi Siagian to death for smuggling 53.3 kilograms of methamphetamines from Malaysia.

At the same hearing, Junaidi’s associate Elpi Darius was sentenced to life for taking part in the smuggling. 

Earlier, prosecutors had demanded that the court sentence them both to death. 

Presiding judge Gosen Butar-butar said the two defendants were found guilty of violating the 2009 Narcotics Law.

“There is nothing that mitigates the actions of the two defendants. Defendant Junaidi is sentenced with the death penalty and defendant Elpi Darius with life imprisonment,” Gosen said during the hearing on Tuesday.

Gosen said Junaidi was given a harsher sentence because he was found to be the mastermind behind the case, while Elpi was only following Junaidi’s orders.

The ruling drew emotional reactions from the defendants’ families, who were present in the courtroom, as well as from the defendants themselves.

Elpi kicked a chair, while Junaidi yelled threats at the prosecutors.

Junaidi also said he would appeal the sentence because he thought it was unfair.

“I don’t accept the judges’ decision. I will appeal. There were five of us but only I was sentenced to death, while my friends were not. One even got 17 years. Why is this?” he told reporters after the trial. 

The drug smuggling case was first discovered by police at the end of 2018. 

The smugglers’ supplier in Malaysia is still at large.

Source: Jakarta Post, Apriadi Gunawan, June 12, 2019

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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