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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 court sentences two to death for killing army colonel

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Dubai: A Saudi court sentenced two men it said were Al Qaida followers to death on charges of decapitating a Saudi intelligence service colonel in 2007, local media reported on Tuesday.

The men attacked Colonel Nasser Al Othman at his farm near the city of Buraidah in northern Saudi Arabia, tied him up and severed his head because they viewed him as an apostate, online news website sabq.org said, citing the court ruling.

Between 2003 and 2006, Al Qaida carried out a campaign of attacks in the kingdom against Western and Saudi targets that killed hundreds of people.

Since stamping out the insurgency, Saudi Arabia has convicted and sentenced hundreds of people to prison or death for militancy. It executed dozens on January 2.

In Tuesday’s verdict, a third man was sentenced to 30 years in jail for attempting to kill the commander of emergency forces in Saudi Arabia’s northern Qassim region, Dubai-based Al Arabiya television channel said.

The court ruling, published by Al Arabiya on its website, did not identify the three convicted men.

A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed the court verdict was an initial ruling which was subject to levels of appeal before it can be implemented.

Death sentences must be signed by the king before they are carried out.

Saudi Arabia says its justice system is fair and independent.

Since 2014 Daesh, like Al Qaida, has carried out attacks in the kingdom that have killed dozens and led to hundreds of arrests.

Source: Reuters, July 26, 2016

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