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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…

Hamas executes fighter for spying for Israel

Hamas militants prepare to execute a person suspected of collaborating with Israel in Gaza City on Aug. 22, 2014.
Hamas militants prepare to execute a Palestinian suspected of
collaborating with Israel in Gaza City on Aug. 22, 2014.
Occupied Jerusalem: Human Rights Watch has condemned Hamas’ execution of one of its own fighters after the Palestinian militant group’s military wing said the killing was carried out at the weekend.

The Al Qassam Brigades — the armed wing of Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip — said it had executed one of its members on Sunday, with sources familiar with the case calling him a senior official accused of spying for Israel.

“The Al Qassam Brigades announce that the death penalty pronounced against its member Mahmoud Eshtawi has been applied today,” the Brigades said in a statement.

Responding to the announcement, Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, called it “another extrajudicial killing by forces linked to Hamas”.

“If Hamas really cares about defending the rights of Palestinian people, it will act to punish and prevent the killing of any Palestinian in rogue procedures outside the semblance of law and justice,” said Bashi.

Hamas has long carried out executions against those accused of spying in the Gaza Strip, including in public squares in the Palestinian territory and often without transparent trials.

However, this killing appeared to be the first time Al Qassam itself had sentenced one of its own through a court martial and executed him.

Al Qassam did not provide details on the accusations against him, other than to say that “the Brigades’ military and Islamic judicial committee issued the sentence because he violated rules and ethics.”

Eshtawi’s duties included overseeing tunnels that have previously been used to store weapons and carry out attacks against Israel, sources said.

According to the sources, he was in charge of a large unit and was previously a close associate of Mohammad Deif, the Al Qassam chief who has been a frequent target of Israeli assassination attempts.

Since the start of 2016, four Gazans have been handed death sentences after being accused of spying for Israel.

The Gaza Strip has seen three wars with Israel since 2008.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 8, 2016

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