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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…

Pakistan: Two convicted by military courts hanged in Kohat

PESHAWAR: Two 'terrorists' convicted by military courts for involvement in attacks on security officials and civilians were executed at a jail in Kohat Wednesday, a military sourced confirmed.

The Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had signed the death warrants of Mehmood and Rab Nawaz last year.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in September last year issued the names of nine ‘hardcore terrorists’ whose death sentences had been approved by the army chief. The convicts executed today were among them.

The ISPR had shared the following details at the time about conviction of the militants hanged on Wednesday:

Mehmood s/o Khawaza Khan, an active member of TTP, was found involved in attacking security personnel in KP, killing two soldiers and injuring 13 others. He admitted his offences before the magistrate and trial court and was awarded death sentence.

Rab Nawaz s/o Shahi Room, an active member of TTP, was involved in killing of two civilians, processing firearms and abetting attack on military in Peshawar which resulted in death of two soldiers and caused severe injuries to another.

Military courts

In the wake of the APS carnage, military courts were set up for trying terrorists under amendments made to the Constitution and the Army Act.

Political parties had unanimously agreed over the issue of setting up military courts to tackle terrorism cases in the country following the gruesome attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, following which the Parliament passed the 21st constitutional amendment in Jan 2015 to set up the said courts.

President Mamnoon Hussain had also promulgated an ordinance further revising the recently amended Army Act to ostensibly aid the functioning of military courts by allowing for trials in camera, i.e without the presence of the public or the media, and over video link if necessary.

The Supreme Court in a majority ruling upheld the establishment of military courts in Pakistan.

Petitions challenging the 21st amendment were dismissed in August this year in a majority 11-6 vote of the 17-member SC bench. Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Dost Muhammad announced the verdict.

In a 14-3 majority vote, petitions challenging the 18th amendment were also dismissed by the bench. Judges provided seven opinions and two additional notes on the ruling.

In its editorials, Dawn has criticised the establishment of military courts for "simply not being compatible with a constitutional democracy."

Source: Dawn, March 30, 2016

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