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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Pakistan: Three executions

2 convicts were hanged at Faisalabad Central Jail and 1 was hanged at the Dera Ghazi Khan Central Jail on Wednesday. The execution of a convict scheduled to be hanged in Dera Ghazi Khan on Wednesday was put off on orders of Lahore High Court.

A Prisons Department spokesperson said Muhammad Ishaq alias Saqi, son of Asghar Ali, a resident of Mohallah Bagh Jhang, and Liaqat Hussain, son of Ashiq Hussain Ansari, a resident of Sultan Noonwali Basti in Jhang, were hanged on Wednesday at the Faisalabad Central Jail. They were accused of killing 2 rivals on June 15, 1992, to avenge an old enmity. Kotwali police had registered a case against them.

Anti-Terrorism Court Judge Shafiq Ahamd Butt had sentenced them to death on August 7, 1994. The apex courts had upheld the lower court's decision and the president had turned down their mercy petitions. The court had then issued death warrants for Ishaq and Ansari.

They were allowed to meet their families for the last time on Tuesday. Tight security arrangements were made and the relatives were requested to stay calm. The suspects asked their families to forgive them. The men were executed on Wednesday and their bodies were handed over to their families. In Dera Ghazi Khan, a man convicted of killing his wife and daughter was executed on Wednesday morning. The execution of another convict was put off till December 23 on orders of the LHC.

Jail Superintendent Sheikh Afzal Javed said Mushtaq Ahmad and Allah Ditta had been scheduled for execution on Wednesday. Allah Ditta's execution was put off.

Ahmad, son of Allah Bakhsh, a resident of Taunsa Sharif, was hanged amid tight security. He had shot at and killed his wife and daughter on October 19, 1999.

A trial court had sentenced him to death on February 25, 2002. Allah Ditta, son of Rasool Bakhsh Gurmani, a resident of Rajanpur, had shot at and killed Abdul Karim on the premises of district courts to avenge his brother Piran Ditta's murder.

A trial court had sentenced him to death on October 1, 2007. District and Sessions Judge Khalid Mahmood had issued death warrants for the execution of Mushtaq Ahmad and Special Court Judge Wajahat Hussain had issued death warrants for Allah Ditta after their appeals had been rejected by superior courts and their mercy petitions were turned down by the president.

Source: The Express Tribune, December 17, 2015

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