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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…

Maldives foreign minister quits citing row on death penalty

The Maldives Supreme Court upheld lower courts verdict to execute Hussein Humam Ahmed. The 22-year-old was convicted of killing MP Dr A. Ali.
The Maldives Supreme Court upheld lower courts verdict to execute Hussein Humam
Ahmed. The 22-year-old was convicted of killing MP Dr A. Ali.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Maldives' foreign minister resigned Tuesday saying she has irreconcilable disagreements with the government's decision to implement the death penalty.

Dunya Maumoon said in a statement that her decision to step down was inevitable "because of the profound differences of opinion on the government's policy on implementing the death penalty at a time when serious questions are being asked and concerns being expressed about the delivery of justice in the Maldives."

But local media said the resignation is also a result of differences between President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who is Dunya's uncle, and her father Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who previously ruled the country for 30 years.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is now the leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives.

The rift surfaced last week when Maumoon Abdul Gayoom openly opposed a law to lease out islands and lagoons for tourism projects without competitive bidding.

Last month, the Supreme Court last month confirmed the death penalty for a 22-year-old man convicted of killing a lawmaker in 2012. Just days before the court's ruling, the government had amended rules to allow execution by lethal injection or hanging, indicating that the country's decades-long moratorium on executions will soon end.

The latest dispute could exacerbate the country's already fragile politics, with Maumoon Abdul Gayoom moving to strengthen his hold on the party.

The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after Maumoon had held power for nearly 30 years. But the democratic gains have receded in recent years.

Yameen Abdul Gayoom is accused of using the courts, government bureaucracy and police to suppress the opposition and the media.

Since he was elected to office in 2013, four senior politicians have been jailed after trials that were widely criticized as lacking due process.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's successor, Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president, resigned under heavy criticism for having ordered the military to detain one of the country's top judges. He then lost a presidential election to Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year after a court ruled that the jailing of the judge was akin to terrorism.

Yameen's former vice president, Ahmed Adeeb, was sentenced to 33 years in prison on corruption and terrorism charges, including an alleged plot to assassinate the president.

Yameen's former defense minister, Mohamed Nazim, and opposition party leader Sheik Imran Abdulla are also serving lengthy prison terms.

Source: Associated Press, July 5, 2016

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