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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…

Five expats sentenced to death for killing employer in Qatar

Doha, Qatar
A criminal court in Qatar this week has sentenced 5 men in absentia to death by firing squad for murdering their boss.

According to court documents, the incident took place in January 2014.

4 of the men who were convicted are from Bangladesh: Rebon Khan, Din Islam Aziz al-Rahman, Muhammad Rashid Muhammad and Muhammad Ruseil. A 5th, Sahtaj Sheikh, is from Nepal.

They had been charged with 1st degree, premeditated murder, theft and forgery. The men were not in Qatar when the verdict was read on Dec. 31, 2015.

What happened

According to court testimony, the victim and several of his employees had gone to an under-construction home at 6am on Jan. 9.

At some point, the 5 defendants threatened the rest of the workers and shut them into a bathroom, closing the door. The defendants could be observed holding hammers.

Some of the men trapped in the bathroom testified that while inside, they heard loud voices and screams from the victim, but added that they were too scared to call the police.

The victim's body was found the next day by his brother, who had gone to the construction site searching for him after his wife reported him missing.

A forensics report stated that the victim was struck several times on the head with hammers, resulting in his death.

After the employer was killed, the defendants stole the victim's smart card, the court heard.

They then used an electronic device to issue exit permits for themselves by entering the victim's data and making it look like as if he had agreed to the issuing of the permits.

The court documents did not include the name and nationality of the victim.

Kafala debate

The case comes less than a year after a Doha court sentenced 4 other expats in absentia to jail time for abducting 1 of their Qatari sponsors.

Those defendants were acquitted of an attempted murder charge, but had been found guilty of beating and robbing the sponsor.

They had also forced him to sign their exit permits before they left Qatar.

The verdict prompted a flurry of debate about Qatar's restrictive kafala sponsorship system, with critics saying freedom of movement should be a universal right, and the defendants may have had no choice but to resort to extreme measures.

Others, however, countered that torturing a person is always unjustified and breaking the law is not the answer.

Source: Doha News, January 3, 2016

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