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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 Egyptian man for drug smuggling

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia executed on Monday an Egyptian man convicted of smuggling drugs, the interior ministry said, bringing to 59 the number of convicts put to death this year.

Ibrahim Mohammed Salman was caught trying to smuggle opium which was hidden in his car, the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

He was executed in the northern city of Tabuk, the ministry said.

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

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

In 2015 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 last year was the highest for two decades.

However, the tally was far behind that for China and Iran.

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

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 8, 2016

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