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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…

UN: Halt death penalty of Nizami, Mir Quasem

Bangladesh Supreme Court
Bangladesh Supreme Court
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged Bangladesh government to halt the death penalty to condemned war criminals Motiur Rahman Nizami and Mir Quasem Ali.

The OHCHR made the call in a statement issued on Friday.

Expressing concern about the death sentences to the duo, the OHCHR also raised question in relation to international due process and fair trial standards.

It stated that the UN opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, no matter the gravity of the crime committed and even if the most stringent fair trial standards were respected.

"While recognising Bangladesh's determination to tackle past crimes, the trials conducted before the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal have unfortunately not met international standards of fair trial and due process as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)," it says.

The statement reads: "We renew our call to the Government of Bangladesh, as a 1st step forward, to halt all executions and institute a moratorium on the use of the death penalty."

Bangladesh's 1st war crimes tribunal handed Nizami death on October 29, 2014 on 4 charges and life imprisonment on 4 other charges. He challenged the verdict at the apex court.

On January 6, a 4-member Appellate Division bench upheld the tribunal's sentence for the Al-Badr chief for masterminding the killing of intellectuals and involvement in 2 incidents of mass killing of over 500 people in Pabna in 1971.

The Supreme Court on March 8 upheld the war tribunal's death sentence awarded to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

Top Jamaat-e-Islami financier Quasem, now 64, was awarded capital punishment by the tribunal on November 3, 2014. 

Source: Dhaka Tribune, April 8, 2016


Nizami review hearing on Supreme Court's cause list for Sunday

The Supreme Court's business agenda for Sunday includes the matter of a petition by war crimes convict Motiur Rahman Nizami for a review of the verdict upholding his death sentence.

After being deferred once, the matter has been listed as the 19th issue on the agenda at the 4-member appeals bench led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha.

The other members of the bench are justices Nazmun Ara Sultana, Syed Mahmud Hossain and Hasan Foez Siddique. On Apr 3, the court deferred the matter for a week after Nizami's counsels pleaded for time.

Nizami, who heads the Jamaat-e-Islami, filed a petition for a review of his death sentence over his 1971 war crimes on Mar 29.

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 then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha, Nizami commanded the Al-Badr, a militia known for its ruthless mass murder, rape, loot and killing of Bengali intellectuals in complicity with Pakistani soldiers during the 1971 war.

Review is the last legal recourse for a death row convict after all other judicial means 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 ICT was read out to Nizami after the Supreme Court published the full copy of his verdict.

Nizami's case is the 6th among all war crimes cases so far to have reached 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 in the 2001-06 BNP-led coalition government, was also handed the death penalty in 2014 for arms trafficking in the sensational Chittagong 10-truck arms haul case.

Source: bdnews24.com, April 8, 2016

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