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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…

Two Christians and a Muslim man get death penalty in Pakistan for blasphemy

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan.
2 Christians and a Muslim man were on Tuesday sentenced to death by a Pakistani anti terrorism court for committing blasphemy.

The Anti-Terrorism Court of Gujranwala district announced the verdict in the case which was pending for the last one year.

ATC Gujranwala Judge Bushra Zaman handed down death penalty to Anjum, Javed Naz (who are both Christians) and Jaffer Ali for committing blasphemy. Naz and Ali have been sentenced to an additional 35 years each.

The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 5 million on Anjum and Rs 8 million each on Naz and Ali.

Gujranwala city police had arrested Anjum, Naz and Ali a year ago on blasphemy charges.

The judge announced the verdict after prosecution presented all witnesses.

Anjum, a resident of Farid Town, some 80km from Lahore ran a chain of Locus Schools System in Gujranwala. Asif, Anjum's brother, told PTI that his brother never committed any blasphemy.

"Javed Naz was a cousin of Anjum and employed at one of his schools. When Anjum fired Naz on corruption allegations he turned against my brother," he said.

Asif said later Naz started blackmailing Anjum by claiming that he had his voice recorded in which he had made blasphemous remarks.

"When Anjum stopped paying money to Naz, he along with his Muslim friend Ali got a blasphemy case registered against Anjum," he said.

Police during investigation also booked Naz and Ali in the blasphemy case.

"My brother is innocent and we will challenge the ATC verdict in the superior court," Asif said.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan. 2 high-profile politicians then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti were murdered in 2011 after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law.

Pakistan's tough blasphemy law has attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently misused to settle personal scores.

Source: firstpost.com, June 28, 2016

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