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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 executes another prisoner, bringing to 55 number of convicts put to death this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia on Thursday executed one of its citizens for murder, bringing to 55 the number of convicts put to death this year.

Authorities in the southwestern region of Aseer carried out the death sentence against Owaidhah al-Saadi, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A court found him guilty of shooting dead another Saudi following a dispute, it said.

Most executions in Saudi Arabia are done by beheading with a sword.

The kingdom on January 2 executed 47 people in a single day for "terrorism".

According to an AFP tally, Saadi is among 8 other locals and foreigners put to death this year.

New York-based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged the country to abolish its "ghastly" beheadings.

"Saudi Arabia made positive changes for women and foreign workers in 2015, but these steps were overshadowed by its continued use of cruel punishments such as flogging and beheading," HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson said as the watchdog released its 2016 world report.

"Saudi Arabia should reform its justice system and halt these ghastly punishments."

Last year the kingdom executed 153 people, mostly for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP tally.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia in 2015 was the highest in 2 decades.

The kingdom practices a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: therakyatpost.com, January 30, 2016

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