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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…

Indonesia's Supreme Court sentences 5 to death for drug offenses

Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Indonesian President Joko Widodo
The Supreme Court has added five new death row inmates to the Attorney General’s Office’s (AGO) executions list, with the recent sentencing of five drug dealers.

The move at country’s highest court comes just four days after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on law enforcement institutions and judicial bodies to unite in supporting the heaviest possible punishment of drug dealers. Jokowi made the comments at an event for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Jakarta on Sunday.

The Supreme Court said the five people, including Hong Kong citizen and international drug syndicate kingpin Wong Chi Ping, deserved the punishment because drug-related mortality had gotten worse in recent years with the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) recording around 50 deaths every day due to drugs.

“If some people say that the death penalty is a cruel punishment, then is it not cruel for us to let 50 people die every day because of the drugs that these syndicates brought into our country?” said Supreme Court justice Suhadi, one of three judges handling the case.

The other four convicts also sentenced to death are Indonesian Ahmad Salim Wijaya and Hong Kong nationals Cheung Hon Ming, Siu Cheuk Fung and Tam Siu Liung.

The case started when the BNN arrested Wong at a minimart in Kalideres, West Jakarta, in January 2015.

He was arrested along with eight others, four Hong Kong nationals and four Indonesians, for attempting to smuggle 862 kilograms of meth from China to Indonesia via sea.

In its ruling the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences handed down on Wong, Ahmad, Cheung and Siu by the West Jakarta District Court in November 2015.

The primary court initially sentenced Tam to life in prison, but judges at the Supreme Court disagreed with the earlier sentence and upgraded the penalty to death.

“Drug dealers destroy our country and the future of our young generation. The death penalties handed down for these five people are equal with what they have done to our country,” Suhadi said.

Wong has been on wanted-criminals lists in several countries and it took five years’ work by the BNN together with the China National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) and the Hong Kong Police to eventually secure his arrest last year.

Earlier, the Supreme Court also sentenced four other people in relation to the same case, namely: Tan See Ting, who also got sentenced to death; Sujardi, who received 20 years’ behind bars; Syarifuddin, who was jailed for 18 years; and Andika, who received 15 years behind bars for helping Wong operate his drug business.

Wong, Ahmad, Ceung, Siu, Tan and Tam can still challenge the Supreme Court’s sentences through a case review plea. They are also allowed by law to plea for clemency from President Jokowi.

Source: Jakarta Post, Haeril Halim, June 30, 2016

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