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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…

Bangladesh SC upholds death sentence for Jamaat leader for 1971 war crimes

March 8, 2016: Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for one of the top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, Mir Quasem Ali, for war crimes during the 1971 independence war with Pakistan, which included killing and torturing freedom fighters.

A war crimes tribunal set up in 2010 has sparked violence and drawn criticism from opposition politicians, including leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, that it is victimising Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's political opponents.

Four opposition politicians, including three leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, have been convicted by the tribunal and executed since late 2013.

Mir Quasem, 63, is a member of central executive committee of the Jamaat, the largest Islamist party in Bangladesh, and is one of its most powerful leaders as he is believed to be the chief financier of the party.

He is also a leading businessman in Bangladesh, running firms ranging from print and electronic media to hospitals.

About 3 million people were killed, according to official figures, and thousands of women raped, during the independence war in which some factions, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, opposed the breakaway from what was then called West Pakistan.

The party denies that its leaders committed any atrocities.

Mir Quasem went into hiding after Pakistan occupation forces and their local collaborators surrendered on December 16, 1971, and re-appeared years later as a Jamaat-e-Islami leader.

He was arrested on June 17, 2012 and convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death on November 2, 2014. 

Source: Reuters, March 8, 2016

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