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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…

4 Bangladesh war crimes convicts get death sentences

Bangladesh
A special tribunal in Bangladesh today handed down death penalty to 4 men for committing war crimes during the 1971 Liberation War by siding with Pakistani troops as the court directed authorities to seek help from Interpol in nabbing 3 of them who are on the run.

Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-BD) in the capital also awarded "imprisonment until death" to a fifth war criminal for carrying out atrocities in northern Kishorganj.

The 5 were found responsible for abductions, torture and killings to help Pakistan to abort Bangladesh's birth in 1971.

All the convicts were former members of Razakar Bahini, a Bengali-manned auxiliary force of the Pakistan army in 1971.

7 charges were brought against them including mass killing, murder, confinement, torture, arson and looting committed in their locality in 1971. Gazi Abdul Mannan, 88, said to be a commander of Razakar camp, Nasiruddin Ahmed, 62, his brother Shamsuddin Ahmed, 60, and Hafiz Uddin, 66, have been given death, while Azharul Islam, 60, has been given imprisonment until death.

Only one of them, Shamsuddin, faced the trial in person while the rest, including a former Bengali captain of the Pakistani force, were tried in absentia.

Witnesses said the 3-member special tribunal led by Justice Anwarul Haque sentenced one of the fugitives the imprisonment until death.

The court, in its 330-page verdict summary, ordered their immediate arrest and directed authorities to seek help from Interpol if necessary.

The verdict came as Bangladesh Supreme Court said it will pronounce the final verdict on May 5 on the death sentence it handed down to chief of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, Motiur Rahman Nizami, deciding his fate over crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

Bangladesh has so far executed 4 war crimes convicts since the process began to try the top Bengali perpetrators of 1971 atrocities in line with the electoral commitment of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2008.

2 others have earlier been handed down "imprisonment until death" penalty instead of capital punishment on grounds of their old age as they exceeded 80.

They subsequently died in the prison cells of a specialised state-run hospital due to old age ailments.

Source: Press Trust of India, May 3, 2016

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