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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…

Saudi Arabia: First execution since Ramadan

Public execution of a Burmese woman in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution of a Burmese woman in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH: Saudi authorities executed a murderer in the holy city of Mecca on Sunday, the first death sentence to be carried out since before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Fahd al-Hasni, a Saudi, was put to death after being convicted of stabbing dead a fellow citizen, the interior ministry said in a statement published on the official SPA news agency.

Most people executed in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword.

It was the 96th execution of the year in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, which imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

The last execution in the Gulf country took place on May 29, more than a week before Ramadan began.

There were no beheadings during the fasting month and the following Eid’l Fitr feast.

Rights group Amnesty International says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan. Its figures do not include secretive China.

The London-based watchdog has said that the rate of executions this year is “higher than at the same point last year.”

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for “terrorism” offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions triggering the severing of relations between the Middle East’s leading Sunni and Shiite powers.

Source: Agence France-Presse, July 17, 2016

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