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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…

India: SC to rehear death row convict's plea

India's Supreme Court
India's Supreme Court
The Supreme Court today agreed to re-hear the plea of Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Arif, alias Ashfaq, seeking review of the death sentence awarded to him for his role in the attack on an Army battalion at Red Fort here in 2000.

A 5-member Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the review plea would be heard in open court by a Bench of 3 judges in the light of another Constitution Bench ruling in September 2014 acknowledging the need for transparency in such hearings.

Ashfaq's counsel pleaded that his client had been convicted only for conspiracy and was not part of the terror team that had mounted the attack, killing 3 jawans. 

Further, Ashfaq was the only death-row convict who could not take advantage of the 2014 SC verdict as his curative petition had been dismissed ahead of that, he contended and pleaded for open court hearing by relaxing the norm.

Confirming the death sentence awarded to Ashfaq, the SC had ruled on August 10, 2011 that he did not deserve anything less as he was part of both the conspiracy to wage a war against India and its execution. 

During the hearing of the appeal, Ashfaq could not cite a single mitigating circumstance warranting commutation of the death penalty, the apex court had pointed out.

In all, 6 militants had sneaked into the fort on December 22, 2000, and opened indiscriminate fire, killing 3. After the attack, all of them escaped by scaling the rear boundary wall of the 17th century monument.

Source: tribuneindia.com, January 20, 2016

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