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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…

Saudi Court Sentences 14 to Death in Attacks on Security Forces

Public execution in Saudi Arabia
Public execution in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH — A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced 14 men to death on Wednesday in connection with attacks on security forces in a Shiite area in the country’s east, the Al Arabiya satellite network reported.

Of the 24 people tried, one was acquitted and nine others were given sentences ranging from three to 15 years, the network said. 

Those sentenced to death were accused of terrorism.

The men were arrested a few years ago, when protests by members of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority roiled the Qatif area of Eastern Province, leading to clashes with the security forces that left dead about 20 protesters and a number of police officers.

Many Shiites complain of discrimination in the Sunni-majority kingdom whose official creed considers some Shiite beliefs and practices heretical.

The Saudi government characterized the protesters as rioters who harbored armed groups, and it has put some of them on trial on charges that include terrorism. 

Western human rights groups have accused the Saudi government of using the courts to stifle dissent and convicting activists on trumped up charges.

The executions could escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia’s regional Shiite rival, Iran. 

Saudi Arabia’s execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in January sparked protests in Tehran, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties after protesters stormed its embassy.

The men’s death sentences can be appealed.

Source: The New York Times, Ben Hubbard, June 1, 2016

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