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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 Supreme Court defers hearing Nizami's review petition

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh
The hearing of a petition filed by war crimes convict Motiur Rahman Nizami to review the verdict upholding his death sentence has been deferred.

The matter was included in the Supreme Court's cause list for Sunday.

But after Nizami's counsels pleaded for more time on Sunday, the Appellate Division bench, led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, deferred the hearing by a week.

"Not this week," said the court.

"We pleaded for 6 weeks; the court gave us 1 week. The matter will be heard after that," Nizami's lawyer SM Shahjahan told bdnews24.com after the hearing.

On Mar 29, the Jamaat-e-Islami chief filed the petition seeking review of the Supreme Court verdict, which confirmed his death penalty for 1971 war crimes.

The next day, the State moved the Supreme Court's chamber judge to expedite the hearing, when it forwarded the matter to a regular appeals bench and fixed Sunday for the hearing.

In January this year, the top court rejected Nizami's appeal to overturn the International Crimes Tribunal's 2014 verdict.

As the head of the Jamaat's student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha ( in 1971), Nizami commanded the Al-Badr, a militia known for its ruthless mass murders, rape, loot and the killing of Bengali intellectuals in support of Pakistan's campaign to suppress the Bengali freedom struggle.

Review is the last legal recourse for a death-row convict after all other judicial options have been exhausted.

The option to seek presidential mercy provides the only remaining hope ahead of execution in case the review is rejected.

On Mar 16, the death warrant issued by the tribunal was read out to Nizami after the Supreme Court published the full copy of his verdict.

Nizami's case is the 6th of the war crimes cases so far to reach the stage of a review petition after the publication of the full verdict.

The 72-year-old is the 3rd former minister facing the gallows for war crimes.

Nizami, industries minister during the BNP-led coalition government from 2001-06, was also handed the death penalty in 2014 for involvement in arms trafficking in Chittagong's sensational 10-truck arms haul case.

Source: bdnews24.com, April 3, 2016

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