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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…

Irish juvenile Ibrahim Halawa marks 1000 days facing death penalty in Egypt

Egypt protests
An Irish student who was arrested in the wake of protests in Egypt marks 1000 days of detention facing a potential death sentence.

Ibrahim Halawa faces the death penalty despite having been a juvenile - aged just 17 - at the time of his arrest in August 2013. He is being subjected to an ongoing mass trial alongside hundreds of adults, which has been delayed on multiple occasions.

Following his arrest, the Egyptian police beat Ibrahim and denied him medical treatment. He has since been subjected to periods of solitary confinement in cells with no light or toilet.

Despite the fact that Ibrahim was a juvenile when he was arrested he has been held in adult prisons and is being tried by adult courts. International human rights organisation Reprieve has discovered that hundreds of children - including some as young as 6 - were arrested in the same breakup of protests as Ibrahim. Efforts to have Ibrahim's case transferred to a juvenile court have been rejected.

The 493 defendants in Ibrahim's mass trial are charged with attending an illegal protest during which protesters allegedly caused deaths and criminal damage. They are being held jointly responsible for these offences, despite a lack of specific evidence linking the vast majority of them to these crimes.

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch, Deputy Director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, which is assisting Ibrahim, said:

"Ibrahim has now suffered 1000 days of appalling mistreatment in violation of both international and Egyptian law. It is a scandal that the Egyptian authorities continue to seek the death penalty for Ibrahim despite his having been a child at the time of his arrest. The Egyptian authorities must immediately call an end to this mass trial and others like it and release Ibrahim and the hundreds of others like him who have been illegally detained for so long."

Source: reprieve.org, May 12, 2016

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning