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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…

A year after the Bali Nine executions, Indonesia prepares firing squads again

Indonesian police officers
Deaths of eight prisoners, including two Australians, prompted a huge outcry – and a pause in executions. But now foreigners on death row fear their own sentences could be just weeks away

There’s chatter that it’s on.

Talk that the death squad is at the ready; that a new, bigger execution ground is in the making. Officials say it could be just weeks away.

And after the circus last year, the security minister Luhut Panjaitan hopes there will be less “drama” this time around.

One year after the international uproar and the diplomatic fallout over the execution of eight drug traffickers – including two Australian men, Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – it appears more executions could be on Indonesia’s horizon this year. Among the foreigners on death row in Indonesia are two Britons, convicted drug smugglers Lindsay Sandiford and Gareth Cashmore.

“I still don’t want to believe it,” says lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who this time last year was fighting to save the lives of Chan and Sukumaran. “Yes, there will probably be a statement, but in the end I don’t think there will be any executions. I refuse to believe it.”

After 14 prisoners were executed at dawn in two separate rounds in early 2015, a third round has been on hold for the past year, ostensibly for economic reasons, but perhaps, in part, for political ones, too.

This month, even as Indonesia was being booed at the United Nations for reiterating its support for the death penalty for drug offenders – a punitive action that runs counter to international law – the attorney general Muhammad Prasetyo indicated that another round would go ahead.

When questioned on the matter by German chancellor Angela Merkel on a recent visit to Berlin, Indonesian president Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, defended capital punishment as a justified approach to the country’s “drug emergency”.

There is nothing definitive yet, no date, and no official list of the next prisoners to face the firing squad: the Indonesian government is keeping its cards close to the chest. But some are still operating on the assumption that it is probably just a matter of time.

“The last information we received is that the attorney general has asked the parliament for the budget for the third round,” says Putri Kanesia, from the Jakarta-based human rights organisation Kontras.


Source: The Guardian, Kate Lamb, April 28, 2016

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