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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…

Belarus: Triple Murderer Sentenced to Death

Minsk, Belarus
Minsk, Belarus
February 16, 2016: Belarus sentenced to death a man convicted of killing three people, the day after the European Union (EU) announced it was lifting sanctions against the ex-Soviet country for an improved human rights record.

It was the third death penalty handed down in Belarus since November 2015.

The 32-year-old man, whose name was not released, was sentenced by a court in Minsk which had found him guilty of five crimes including the three murders, announced Yulia Liaskova, spokeswoman for the Belarusian high court.

These crimes were "committed with particular cruelty," she said.

The two other recent death sentence cases in Belarus were in January when Gennadi Yakovitsky, 49, was convicted of killing his companion and in November, when Ivan Kulesh, 29, was found guilty of killing three saleswomen.

The latest death sentence came after EU foreign ministers agreed on November 15 to lift nearly all sanctions on Belarus, including against strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, after improvements in the country's human rights record.

EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said that Belarus was "showing a positive trend which we want to encourage."

At the same time the European Union is opposed to capital punishment and abolishing the death penalty is a pre-condition for a country becoming a member of the bloc.

More than 400 people have been condemned to death in Belarus since the 1990s, according to estimates by human rights groups. 

Source: Agence France-Presse, Feb. 17, 2016

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