FEATURED POST

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Image
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…

Final appeal relating to Tokyo subway sarin attack dismissed by Japan's High Court

The aftermath of the 1995 Tokyo Subway sarin gas attack that killed 12
The aftermath of the 1995 Tokyo Subway sarin gas attack that killed 12
It has been 21 years since 5 men released the deadly nerve agent in carriages of crowded commuter trains during Tokyo's morning rush-hour.

Twelve people died, 50 people were left permanently injured, and thousands of others were temporarily blinded by the gas.

The perpetrators were all members of a religious cult known as Aum Shinrikyo, which means "supreme truth".

The cult had prepared for the attack at a remote sheep station it owned in Western Australia.

The sarin gas attack in Tokyo is regarded as the first ever use of a weapon of mass destruction in an act of terrorism.

The perpetrators of the crime thought they were carrying out a holy act in line with the beliefs of the doomsday cult.

The prosecutors of the criminal trials believe that day was chosen to divert the attention of police who were planning a raid on the cult's headquarters.

The head of the cult, Shoko Asahara, was found guilty of masterminding the attacks in 2004 and sentenced to death by hanging, but his execution was postponed while the appeals of his fellow criminals were heard.

He is now 61 years old and spends his days in solitary confinement.

Hiromi Shimada, the author of a book about Aum Shinrikyo, said the next question would be when the 13 men facing the death penalty would go to the gallows.

"Since there are so many of them, I think it'll be difficult to execute all of them at once," he said.

"The Minister of Justice has to make the decision but it can't be carried out just by the minister's decision.

"I think the Government has to be involved also, so it's hard to the think the executions will happen all at once."

Cult leader's execution may be delayed


The gas attack crime in 1995 did not turn the cult's followers away from the faith.

Asahara devised the religion in his one-bedroom flat in Tokyo and based his teachings on a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism and declared himself to be the Christ.

After his imprisonment, Aum Shinrikyo split into 2 distinct groups, and the Japanese Government now regards those groups to be branches of what it calls a dangerous religion.

Some say the execution of the leader Asahara might now be delayed by the Government to prevent him being seen as a martyr by the remaining devotees.

Hiromi Shimada said very little was known about Asahara's condition in jail.

"We hardly hear what's going on inside the prison so I don't know in detail, but his daughter has published a memoir and wrote that perhaps her father has schizophrenia," he said.

"I think his mental condition has become worse over time."

Support for the death penalty in Japan has been falling over the years and there are usually only 2 or 3 executions carried out each year, and those are reserved for criminals who have committed multiple murders.

Asahara and his fellow perpetrators join about 100 other criminals who currently wait on death row.

Source: abc.net.au, September 8, 2016

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

Ohio: Lawyers seek review of death sentence for 23-year-old Clayton man

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up

Malaysian court sentences Australian grandmother to death by hanging

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Texas prisons taking heat over aging execution drugs experts say could cause 'torturous' deaths

Texas executes Juan Castillo