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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…

Gaza court sentences 4 to death for 'spying for Israel'

Execution of Hani Abu Aliyan in Gaza on October 2, 2013
Execution of Hani Abu Aliyan in Gaza on October 2, 2013
A military court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced 4 Palestinians to death on charges of spying for Israel, a statement and court sources said.

The court said in a brief statement that a 23-year-old man from the Zeitoun area south of Gaza City had been sentenced to death on espionage charges. It did not provide his name.

3 other men who "fled from justice" were also found guilty in absentia, it said.

A court source told AFP the 4 were convicted on "charges of spying for the occupation", including "surveillance" and providing information about cars and homes to help Israel plan alleged assassinations.

Before these sentences, 167 people had been sentenced to death by courts in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a battle with Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority. 80 of the death sentences have been given in Gaza since that date.

Islamists Hamas have previously carried out executions against those accused of dealing with Israelis, with the killings sometimes taking place in public squares.

Under Palestinian law, collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers can face the death penalty.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 13, 2016

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