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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 death row 10: Last-minute reprieve, but for how long?

Indonesian police officers in Cilacap
Cilacap: The fate of 10 death row prisoners who were saved from the firing squad in Indonesia just minutes before the executions took place remains unclear, with the country's attorney-general refusing to confirm if they have won a permanent reprieve.

Just four of the planned 14 executions proceeded on the Central Javan island of Nusakambangan – known as Indonesia's Alcatraz – in the early hours of Friday morning, despite all 14 prisoners being notified on Tuesday that they had just 72 hours to live.

Three Nigerians and one Indonesian were killed at 12.45am on July 29, despite human rights groups and lawyers claiming that at least one – Nigerian Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke – may have been innocent.

But the remaining 10 were never taken from their isolation cells.

Harrowing stories have emerged of their families – who were waiting in a tent on the island to identify the bodies post-execution – seeing early reports on television that all 14 had been killed.

The TV stations later updated this to suggest some executions may not have gone ahead, but it was not until the spiritual advisers returned from the killing fields two hours later that the families learned who had been saved.

On Friday, Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo offered his condolences to the families and countries of the four people executed.

"Prosecutors are only following the order of the law," he said.

Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo
Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo
Earlier this week Mr Prasetyo confirmed 14 drug offenders would be executed unless the list changed.

However on Friday he said 10 executions were postponed following a review involving the police, consular representatives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others.

"The postponement was done after a comprehensive review … to avoid errors both judicial and non-judicial," he said.

"The executions for the rest of those on death row will be determined later at an appropriate moment."

Human rights groups and lawyers had fought to persuade Indonesian President Joko Widodo to postpone the executions, claiming there was evidence of torture, corruption, bribery and miscarriages of justice.

The day before the executions former Indonesian president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie appealed to Mr Joko to save the life of Pakistani textile worker Zulfiqar Ali, saying evidence pointed to his innocence.

Mr Prasetyo would not be drawn on whether Mr Habibie's intervention had influenced the president.

Pakistan had also exerted considerable diplomatic pressure to save Mr Ali, who was never found with drugs in his possession and was allegedly framed by Indian national Gurdip Singh, whose life was also spared on Thursday.

Pakistan's deputy head of mission in Jakarta, Zahid Raza, welcomed the reprieve but said the details were still unclear.

"It was a combined effort by everyone concerned with a human life that contributed to this," he said. "We don't know if it is a full pardon or they want to do a review of the case."

Click here to read the full article (+ photos)

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, July 29, 2016

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