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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…

Tunisia: Death Sentence in Sufi Shrine Killing

Islamist terrorism in Tunisia
Islamist terrorism in Tunisia
The leader of a group of Takfiri Salafists has been sentenced to death for his part in the killing of a guard at a Sufi shrine in the country's southeast.

Others within the group received sentences varying from life imprisonment to five years for their part in the murder.

The Court learned that the unnamed victim had been on duty at the Sufi, Zaouia Sidi Abdelkader shrine at Menzel Bouzelfa (around 60km from the capital) in February of last year when the group of 13 hooded men approached and stabbed him to death.

The court sentenced the group's leader to death for "voluntary homicide." Another member of the group received a sentence of 36 years imprisonment for involvement in the murder. The remainder of the group received sentences varying between 5 and 10 years, with 3 acquitted.

Although it is still permitted by law, Tunisia voted in favor of the 2012 UN General Assembly moratorium on executions, with no executions having taken place since 1991. Prior to the moratorium, 135 executions occurred within Tunisia, the majority under former President Habib Bourguiba. However, though unused, the sentence remains upon the statute books as the Courts' stiffest sanction.

The death penalty is opposed on principle by many human rights groups. Speaking of its application in terrorist cases, Lotfi Azouz, Director of Amnesty International in Tunis said, "When a Terrorist commits a serious crime, they do so expecting death. This is their mindset. They expect to be a martyr and be sent to heaven, so the death penalty is actually working in their favor."

Sufism is sometimes regarded as the mystical dimension of Islam, cantering upon the internal spirituality of the individual. Sufism involves the search for divine love, which is believed to lead to the path of spiritual awakening.

Given its strong focus upon the internal, as well as the building of shrines to prominent Sufists, conservative and radical preachers tend to claim the sect is heretical and opposed to the fundamental teachings of the Qu'ran.

Source: tunisia-live.net, June 17, 2016

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