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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…

No agreement with AFP on Jessica's sentencing: Indonesian Police

Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Moechgiyarto has denied that the Jakarta City Police have made an agreement with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) about the sentence of murder suspect Jessica Kumala Wongso, who could potentially receive the death penalty.

"No there is no such agreement. We are professional, working based on facts," said Moechgiyarto as reported by kompas.com on Friday.

Australia is a country that has eliminated the death penalty, where Jessica holds permanent residency.

During the investigation, police investigators requested from the AFP Jessica's records while living in the country. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in late February that Jessica would not receive the death penalty as part of an agreement between the AFP and Jakarta Police.

Jessica was accused of murdering Wayan Mirna Salihin on Jan. 6. The case came to light when Jessica, Mirna and another friend shared a table at Olivier cafe in Central Jakarta. Mirna died soon after meeting, on her way to hospital, after drinking cyanide-laced coffee.

The Jakarta Prosecutor's Office in late May accepted the case dossier against Jessica - 2 days before her detention period by police was set to expire. Currently, Jessica is being detained by the prosecutors' office while awaiting trial.

Jessica's lawyers claimed police had no strong evidence against her because CCTV footage failed to confirm that Jessica was the one who placed poison in Mirna's coffee.

Source: Jakarta Post, June 3, 2016


Australian student charged with murdering her friend with cyanide-laced coffee in Indonesia WON'T face the death penalty if found guilty

A woman accused of slipping cyanide in her friend's iced coffee will not face the death penalty if she is found guilty of murder in Indonesia.

Australian resident Jessica Kumala Wongso is due to face trial over the death of her friend Mirna Salihin who police allege was poisoned with cyanide in a Jakarta cafe on January 6.

Murder is a capital crime in Indonesia and it was speculated that Ms Wongso could have faced the death penalty if convicted.

However, an Indonesian official said a document was signed on Thursday to assure the Australian government that she will not be executed if found guilty.

'We have written the letter. We co-ordinated it with the Attorney-General and the Jakarta Police Chief,' Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan previously said he had been promised Ms Wongso would not be sentenced to death and had approved Australian Federal Police assistance in honour of that agreement.

AFP agents
But a Central Jakarta District Court said on Tuesday there was no binding agreement preventing the death sentence because the Indonesian justice system 'does not recognise that kind of deal'.

'No such deal is possible in our system,' District Court Judge and court spokesman Jamaluddin Samosir told ABC.

'The judges can decide any penalty they want. We are independent, there can be no intervention.'

A spokesperson for Mr Keenan's office told ABC: 'The Indonesian government has given an assurance to the Australian government in writing that the death penalty will not be sought nor carried out in relation to the alleged offending.'

Ms Salihin began foaming at the mouth after one sip of Olivier Grant Cafe's 'Vietnamese coffee' and died on her way to hospital on January 6.

Wongso ordered the drink for Ms Salihin after arriving at the restaurant an hour before her in January.

She was seen handling the beverage on CCTV footage before her friends arrived, according to local media.

The 27-year-old was arrested on January 30, some 3 weeks after meeting her friend at the cafe. She denies 1 count of pre-meditated murder.

Wongso, a permanent resident in Australia, studied with Ms Salihin at the Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney and at Swinburne University of Technology.

They graduated in 2008 but Wongso remained in Sydney to work. She returned to Indonesia sometime afterwards but the pair had grown distant, it was claimed by local police.

At the time of Ms Salihin's death she had recently married husband Arief Soemarko.

A consultant called in by local police in March to help unravel the case alleged that Wongso, who did not attend their wedding, had been driven to murder by 'revenge and jealousy'.

'A possible motive is some kind of jealousy and revenge,' Kirdi Putra told ABC's 7.30.

Wongso denies killing her friend and has vowed to clear her name.

She previously took part in a police reenactment of their meeting at the Olivier Grand Cafe, returning to the scene in an orange jumpsuit and police guard.

Her lawyer, who is also her uncle, has called in to question an autopsy apparently commissioned by police which found 15 grams of cyanide per litre in her system.

In March Wongso said she wanted to help her friend's family discover 'who was behind all of this'.

Business has boomed at the Jakarta cafe since Ms Salihin's death, with travellers waiting up to four hours for a table to sample the the drink themselves and take photos inside the 'dark tourism' destination.

Many took photographs of their visits to share on social media and joked about the looming case against Ms Wongso.

'Coffee without cyanide,' said one diner as she uploaded a photograph of the cafe's now infamous Vietnamese iced coffee.

Another said they had to book in advance for a table with the restaurant becoming 'far more crowded' as a result of the scandal.

'We had the infamous Vietnamese iced coffee which was alright. The place was pretty busy so I guess no bad effects from the 'murder case'' said another.

Source: Daily Mail, June 3, 2016

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