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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…

UAE: Court sentences 4 Emiratis to death for joining IS

Duvai
A top court in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday sentenced four Emiratis to death after convicting them of joining the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, local media reported.

The 4, who were tried in absentia, are part of a group of 11 defendants accused of "joining the terrorist Daesh group in an Arab country", the official WAM news agency said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Local newspapers said that the group had travelled to Syria.

They were also charged with "promoting" IS online, helping to finance the group and insulting UAE leaders, WAM said.

3 other Emiratis, a Bahraini, a Mauritanian and a Syrian were handed jail sentences of between three and 10 years, the local Gulf News daily reported. Another Emirati was acquitted.

Abu Dhabi's Federal Supreme Court does not allow international media access to such trials.

The UAE is a member of the US-led coalition that has been bombing IS jihadists in Iraq and Syria since September 2014.

UAE authorities have enacted tougher anti-terror legislation, including harsher jail terms and even introducing the death penalty for crimes linked to religious hatred and extremist groups.

In July, the UAE executed an Emirati woman for the jihadist-inspired 2014 murder of an American school teacher in an Abu Dhabi shopping mall.

Her husband is accused of seeking to carry out attacks on targets including Abu Dhabi's Formula 1 circuit and has reportedly claimed to be the local leader of IS. He is currently on trial.

In another case, the same court jailed three Arabs for 10 years each after convicting them of ties to the Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen, WAM said on Sunday.

It acquitted 3 others for lack of evidence against them, it added.

The UAE is also playing a key role in a Saudi-led coalition that has been battling the Huthis and their allies in Yemen since March last year.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Feb. 15, 2016

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