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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…

China sentences two men to death for murder of British monk

Kagyu Samye Ling monastery in Scotland
Kagyu Samye Ling monastery in Scotland
China has sentenced two men to death for killing a British monk who founded Europe’s first Tibetan monastery, state media said.

Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, co-founder of Scotland’s Kagyu Samye Ling monastery near Langholm, in Dumfries and Galloway, was found dead with multiple stab wounds at his home in the south-western city of Chengdu in 2013.

A court in the city sentenced two men, named in Chinese as Tudeng Gusang and Tsering Banjue, to death for the murders of Akong Rinpoche and two other men, while an accomplice was sentenced to three years in jail, the state-run China News Service reported late on Sunday.

It cited authorities as saying that Gusang, who had worked at the Scottish monastery, and Banjue had stabbed Akong Rinpoche, his nephew and a driver to death in a dispute over a 2.7m yuan (£286,000) payment.

The verdict, posted by the court on social media, said the murders were “brutal” and that the suspects would be “treated severely in accordance with the law”.

Britain said in a statement that it communicated its opposition to the death penalty to Beijing.

Akong Rinpoche, who was in his early 70s, took British citizenship after fleeing Tibet in 1959, and founded the monastery in 1967. He had the title of Rinpoche, an honorific given to the most respected teachers in Tibetan Buddhism, and his community said at the time of his killing that he had been “assassinated”.


Source: The Guardian, Agence France-Presse, Feb 1, 2016

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