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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Vietnamese heroin trafficker sentenced to death

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HANOI, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- A court here on Tuesday passed a death sentence on a 30-year-old man from Vietnam's Hanoi capital for trafficking over 230.5 kg of heroin and illegally possessing military weapons.
The Hanoi People's Court handed down the death sentence on Bui Van Bien who was arrested in May after months of fleeing.
In April, the court passed eight death sentences and three life imprisonment sentences on 11 accomplices of Bien, including Nguyen Van Tinh, for the charge of drug trafficking.
In mid-September, Tinh, 28, from Hanoi, escaped from a detention center in the capital city, but was re-captured six days later.
Bien and Tinh were members of a trans-provincial drug trafficking ring led by a 44-year-old woman named Dang Minh Chau from northern Lang Son province.
Chau and her accomplices successfully traded over 303,5kg of heroin, with a large volume of the drug being hidden in gas cylinders, and illegally possessed two handguns and dozens of bullets.
According …

Iraq hangs 42 Sunni militants convicted of terrorism

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq on Sunday executed 42 Sunni Muslim militants convicted on terrorism charges ranging from killing members of security forces to detonating car bombs.
The biggest mass execution this year in Iraq came after Sunni suicide attacks killed at least 60 people near the southern city of Nassiriya, a Shi‘ite area, on Sept. 14, prompting Shi‘ite demands for tougher judicial action.
Amnesty International criticized the move, saying on Monday that “mass execution is a shocking display of the Iraqi authorities’ resort to the death penalty to try to show they are responding to security threats”.
“The death penalty is an irreversible and reprehensible punishment that should not be used in any circumstances and there is no evidence to show that it deters crime more than any other means of punishment,” Amnesty said in a report.
The Justice Ministry said on Sunday the 42 had been hanged at a prison in Nassiriya, three months after 14 other militants were executed following conv…

Indonesia Rejects UN Recommendation to Abolish Death Penalty

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Jakarta. Indonesia on Thursday (21/09) accepted 167 of the 225 recommendations it received from international delegations during the 27th session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, earlier in May, but crucially rejected the recommendation to abolish the death penalty.
Indonesia said the remaining 58 recommendations, including ones on abolishing the death penalty, addressing past human rights violations and ending prosecutions under blasphemy laws, "were noted" but considered "not in line with the priorities in Indonesia’s human rights agenda."
Indonesia went through its third UPR cycle in May, and had straight away accepted 150 recommendations put forward by 101 delegations during the review while placing the remaining 75 under further examination.
Indonesia stated its final position on the pending recommendations during the 36th session of the Human Rights Council last week.
During the session, Indonesia reaffirmed its position that "th…

Singapore: 2 drug traffickers get death sentence

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A third convict, found to be a courier, receives life sentence and 15 strokes of the cane
A drug trafficker convicted of a capital offence was sentenced to death in the High Court, although he had been certified by the Public Prosecutor to have cooperated with the authorities.
In the first such case here, the court found that Hamzah Ibrahim, 54, was not a courier, after a joint 16-day trial with two other traffickers.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, the court has the discretion not to impose the death penalty, if the convicted offender is a courier and has also been issued a certificate stating he cooperated with authorities.
But Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng ruled that Hamzah's role "went beyond that of a courier".
"Hence, although the PP (Public Prosecutor) issued a certificate of substantive assistance, the alternative sentencing regime was not available," she said in judgment grounds last week.
Another man in the joint trial for trafficking in 26.29g …

Clemency denied for Georgia man scheduled to die Tuesday

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The state Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied clemency for convicted killer Keith Tharpe.
Tharpe still has several court appeals pending that could delay his execution, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday night. 
His lawyers are arguing one of the jurors who convicted him and sentenced him to die was a racist. They also maintain that he is not eligible for the death penalty because he is intellectually disabled.
At the parole board on Monday, 20 supporters - including a daughter and a granddaughter - had argued for mercy.
Tharpe is scheduled to die by lethal injection for killing his 29-year-old sister-in-law, Jaquelyn Freeman on Sept. 25, 1990, dragging her from a car and shooting her multiple times with a shotgun.
On Monday about 20 people supporting Tharpe — friends, relatives, religious counselors and attorneys — crowded into the small parole board meeting room to ask for mercy.
But prosecutor Stephen Bradley said the board also heard from relatives, investigators and others whose “l…

16 Philippine senators sign resolution asking gov’t to stop killings of minors

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Senators voted on a resolution today calling on the government to stop the killings of minors in the Philippines.
Sixteen of 23 senators signed resolution 516, filed yesterday, calling on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to “undertake the necessary steps to stop the spate of killings, especially of our children.”
According to a Rappler report, the measure also calls for a Senate investigation into the issue to determine the “institutional reasons, if any, that give rise to such killings.”
“Due to the alarming spike in the number of children recently killed in blatant violation of their rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Philippine laws and international treaties, there is an urgent need to conduct an investigation of these senseless killings,” the resolution read.
READ: 13-year-old Filipino ‘shot repeatedly’ outside home in Pasay City
Data provided by the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center was cited in the resolution and said that at least 54 minors have been…

Jakarta Traffic Police find 119 bags of marijuana after stopping suspicious truck

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While drug trafficking is not usually part of their beat, the Jakarta Traffic Police yesterday inadvertently carried out a huge drug bust on one of the city’s main roads.
Last night, Traffic Police officers stopped a pickup truck that was driving on Jalan Gatot Subroto. 
From the outside, the truck looked to be carrying oranges, but what was concealed underneath was no ordinary produce.
“The officers had suspicions about the truck, so they stopped it. After searching, they found marijuana,” said Doni Alexander, head of the Narcotics Investigation Directorate at the Jakarta Metro Police, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.
The police did not elaborate on what exactly it was about the truck that raised the officers’ suspicions.
There were 119 packages containing marijuana hidden underneath the oranges, though their exact weight and value has not been revealed.
@tmcpoldametro, the official social media account of the Jakarta Traffic Police, shared photos of their unusual catch on Instagram.

Thailand: Burmese Scapegoats in Murder Trial need Public Funding

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In a case chillingly similar to the Koh Tao murders, that received international and publicity, four more Burmese men stand accused of murder in Rangong in a case that has garnered little public and international interest.
In this case, four Burmese migrant workers were arrested over the murder of a 17 year old Thai female high school student on the night of September 28th 2015.
According to the police Mr Moe Zin Aung, 19, Mr Zaw Lay, 25, Mr Mang Sane, 20 and Mr Kyaw Soe Win, 18 confessed to taking part in the brutal stabbing of Miss Orawee Sampaotong. 
However, like Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, who confessed to the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in Koh Tao, the men say they were tortured into confessing and after receiving legal representation retracted their confessions. “The police accused us of murdering a girl and when we denied the claims we were strangled and punched in the neck” said Kyaw Soe Win on behalf of himself and the other suspects.
According to interviews with…

Sarawak police score biggest drug seizure; 2 suspects face possible death penalty

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KUCHING: Sarawak police have seized 11kg of syabu and 993 ecstasy pills packed and labelled as Chinese tea brands - the largest haul of the illicit drugs in the state so far this year.
Authorities valued the seizure to be worth more than RM3.4 million.
Acting on a tip-off and a nine-month-long surveillance later, a team from the state Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) stormed a house in Jalan Stutong here at 1.30pm on Thursday and confiscated the drugs.
State deputy police commissioner Datuk Dzuraidi Ibrahim said the team found a total of 11kg of syabu and 993 ecstasy pills in the house.
“Two men, both 27, were also arrested in the raid,” he told reporters at the state police headquarters here today.
Dzuraidi said the syabu was packed and labelled as Chinese tea from the Guan Ying Wang and Qing Shan brands.
“The drugs were stuffed inside an unused aquarium, which was placed inside a storeroom of the house.
“Each of the syabu packets weigh about one kilogramme,” he sa…

Kenya: Man to hang for stealing toothpaste and toothbrush

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A man who violently stole Sh16, a toothbrush and toothpaste faces the death penalty after his appeal was dismissed. 
James Muchangi was sentenced to death by a magistrate’s court in 2010 and has since been fighting for his freedom. His appeals at the High Court and the Court of Appeal have flopped and sealed his fate. 
On March 20, 2008, at about 5am, John Kanyingi was walking to a bus stage in Kahawa Wendani when two men armed with a panga and a piece of metal confronted him. They frisked his pockets and stole a black bag that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste and Sh16. 
The robbers cut Kanyingi on the left side of the face below the eye. He later reported the incident at Kahawa Police Post and was issued with a P3 form. 
On April 2, 2008, he was called by the police that two people had been arrested. The following day, the officers proceeded to Muchangi’s house and found Kanyingi's black bag hanging on the wall. 
Muchangi and his accomplice were then charged in court. The co-ac…