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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…

Iran regime hangs 18 people over the weekend

Iran's fundamentalist regime hanged 18 prisoners over the weekend, including 2 cases in public. A woman was among those hanged on Sunday.

11 prisoners were hanged en masse in Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, on Sunday. 2 of the prisoners were identified as Saeed Saberi and Moslem Bahrami. At least 1 of the 11 prisoners was a woman.

2 men, identified only by their initials Q. J. and M. R., were hanged in public in Karaj on Sunday. The 2 men were hanged in a public square in the city's Mehshahr District, the state-run Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday.

Another 3 men were hanged in prison in the city of Birjand, eastern Iran, on Sunday. They were identified as Mansour Zafarani, Yousef Barahoui and Qassem Delshad. They were accused of drugs-related charges.

2 prisoners, whose names were not given but who were said to be 40 and 49 years old, were hanged on Saturday in Lakan Prison in Rasht, northern Iran, according to the state broadcaster IRIB which quoted Ahmad Siavosh-Pour, the provincial head of the judiciary. They were accused of drugs-related charges.

Also it emerged over the weekend that 5 men were hanged on July 11 in the Central Prison of Arak, central Iran. They were identified as Masoud Taqi-Pour, Hassan Faraj-Pour, Mehdi Baqeri, Baqer Jalili and Hamid Haqvin. They too were accused of drugs-related charges.

The mullahs' regime hanged 9 prisoners collectively on July 13 in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.

3 of the executed prisoners were identified as Seyyed Mohammad Taheri, Amir Khadem Rezaiyan and Saeid Ahmadi.

More than 270 Members of the European Parliament signed a joint statement on Iran last month, calling on the European Union to "condition" its relations with Tehran to an improvement of human rights.

The MEPs who were from all the EU Member States and from all political groups in the Parliament said they are concerned about the rising number of executions in Iran after Hassan Rouhani took office as President 3 years ago.

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,500 executions during Hassan Rouhani's tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of "God's commandments" and "laws of the parliament that belong to the people."

Source: NCR-Iran, July 17, 2016

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