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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…

Saudi Arabia beheads Egyptian national

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has beheaded an Egyptian national after sentencing him to death on charges related to robbery and murder.

The convicted Egyptian man, identified as Mahmud Jumaa Morsi, was beheaded in the capital Riyadh on Wednesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The man was found guilty of fatally strangling and robbing a Saudi citizen, the ministry added.

According to AFP tallies, the latest execution brings to 54 the number of locals and foreigners put to death this year.

In the most stunning case, Saudi Arabia executed on January 2 Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along 46 other people in defiance of international calls for the release of the prominent Shia cleric and other jailed political dissidents in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been under fire for having one of the world's highest execution rates.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Saudi regime to abolish its "ghastly" beheadings.

Under the Saudi law, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, homosexuality and murder carry the death penalty. Most Saudi executions are carried out by beheading with a sword.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 27, 2016

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