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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 executes 2 murder convicts, raises number of death sentences to 107

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia on Monday executed 2 convicted murderers, the interior ministry said, raising to 107 the number of death sentences carried out in the kingdom this year.

Fahd al-Ishan was convicted of stabbing to death another Saudi citizen, the ministry said in a statement on the official SPA news agency. He was executed in the northern Jawf region.

Authorities executed another Saudi citizen, Mohammed al-Shahrani, in the southwestern region of Assir after he was convicted of shooting dead another Saudi national, the ministry said in another statement.

The kingdom on Sunday carried out the death penalty against 4 citizens convicted of murder. Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

Saudi Arabia's growing use of the death penalty has prompted Amnesty International to call for an "immediate" moratorium on the practice.

The kingdom imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

The London-based watchdog's Middle East and North Africa head Philip Luther has warned that "at this rate, the Kingdom's executioners will soon match or exceed the number of people they put to death last year."

Amnesty says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences in 2015, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan. Amnesty's figures do not include secretive China.

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.

Source: The Express Tribune, July 25, 2016

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