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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…

Iraq offers to commute death sentences of French IS members for 'millions of euros'

French IS members sentenced to death by Iraqi courts
Iraq is reportedly demanding money from France in return for commuting death sentences passed on 11 French jihadists to life imprisonment, according to the conservative newspaper Le Figaro.

France is unwilling to repatriate jihadists from Syria or Iraq, but it opposes the death penalty. It has said its adult citizens should be tried locally.

About another 120 other French citizens are awaiting trial in Iraq. 

Le Figaro says the Iraqi government is demanding $1 million for each foreign jihadist transferred from Syria and sentenced to death, and $2 million each for those whose sentences are commuted to life imprisonment.

The paper quotes an Iraqi source as saying Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the Iraqi prime minister, made the request when he met President Emmanuel Macron last month.

The Elysée Palace and the Iraqi embassy in Paris deny the claim. “Neither Adil Abdul-Mahdi nor Barham Salih [Iraq’s president] made such a request to France,” a spokesman for Mr Macron’s office said. 

However, Le Figaro quotes its source as saying Iraq plans to ask for up €270 million (£240 million) for trying and imprisoning French jihadists, “not a large sum if you consider the political and social cost of the return of all the jihadists to France”.

More than 80 per cent of the French public do not want them back, according to opinion polls.


Politicians are divided, with the Right taking a firm line and arguing that they should be tried in the Middle East where their crimes were committed. 

Left-wingers and human rights campaigners maintain that the French legal system should be involved, but there are fears that proof of guilt may be difficult to establish in France.

Some 4,000 foreign nationals were captured in Syria and Iraq after the rout of Isil, and most of their home countries do not want them back.

Iraq has offered to try all foreign fighters captured by a US-backed alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

Several hundred have been transferred for trial by Iraqi courts but none have so far been executed.

The question of how to deal with IS fighters is one of the most difficult issues in the aftermath of the group’s defeat. 

The trials in Iraq are seen as a test of whether Iraqi courts can meet international standards for fairness.

Source: The Telegraph, David Chazan, June 8, 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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