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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…

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia on verge of beheading protester 'tortured as a child into confessing'

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
A young protester who was reportedly forced to admit to crimes after being tortured when he was a teenager could be beheaded in the coming days.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012, along with 2 others who were also minors at the time, following anti-government protests in 2011.

In 2013, aged just 17, he was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion.

He is the nephew of the outspoken Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed on 2 January without warning, along with 46 other prisoners.

His mother, Umm Bakr, told The Times she fears her son was used "as a card against his uncle", and says after he was arrested he was tortured into signing confessions for a number of false charges including carrying a weapon.

Mohammed al-Nimr, his father and the brother of Sheikh Nimr, believes his son was "just like any other youth," he said: "When the movement started, he joined, believing he would take on the burden for the people."

However, he claims police knocked Mr al-Nimr off his motorcycle and arrested him, informing his family he would only be released if "his uncle stops talking".

The mass execution sparked widespread protests around the world and lead to a sharp decline in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Following the mass killing of 46 prisoners earlier this year, the largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia since 1980, the British government maintains it doesn't expect the Mr al-Nimr's sentence to go ahead.

But his father doubts he will be released: "Perhaps before 2 January, I might have believed that. Now unless I see him back home again, none of these assurances can give me any comfort."

Source: The Independent, Feb. 9, 2016

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