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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…

Pakistan: Prosecutor to seek death penalty in Samia Shahid 'honour killing'

Samia Shahid with her second husband Mukhtar Syed Kazam
Samia Shahid with her second husband Mukhtar Syed Kazam
Samia's ex-husband confessed to strangling her, but her father 'denies' any involvement.

The prosecutor in the murder of a British woman Samia Shahid will seek the death penalty for her father and ex-husband. Samia's father Chaudhry Muhammad Shahid and her first husband Chaudhry Muhammad Shakeel are accused of killing the 28-year-old from Bradford while on a visit to Pakistan.

The pair appeared in court in Jhelum in Pakistan's northern Punjab province on Saturday (17 September), but it was a brief hearing after prosecutor Najful Hussain Shah applied for more time to gather evidence.

He said Samia's mother and sister tricked her into visiting Pakistan in July by saying her father was gravely ill and that the women fled to Britain after her murder, according to AP reports.

Shah added that the Pakistani government is trying to bring them back for questioning.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, he also confirmed he will seek the death penalty for both men.

When Samia died on 27 July, her family declared she died of a heart attack and buried her in eastern Pakistan.

However , when her second husband Syed Mukhtar Kazim suspected it was an "honour killing" following their marriage, he urged Pakistani authorities to investigate and publicly accused Samia's family of being responsible for her death.

A Pakistani police investigation concluded that Samia's father stood guard while Shakeel raped her, before the two men strangled her to death. A post-mortem examination confirmed she died from strangulation.

Police sources in Pakistan claim Shakeel admitted the murder in an interview saying, "I strangled Samia to death using a dupatta [a scarf]."

Both men are yet to enter pleas however, BBC Pakistan correspondent Shaimaa Khalil said Shahid "flatly denied" any involvement in his daughter's death as he entered court on Saturday (17 September).

"For the 1st time since his arrest, Muhammad Shahid responded to media questions about her death," Khalil said, according to the BBC. "He said, 'It was all lies' and that he loved his daughter very much."

Source: ibtimes.co.uk, September 17, 2016

UK woman's murder case delayed in Pakistan


A Pakistani court has adjourned the case of a British-Pakistani woman's murder until September 23 to give police more time to submit charges against her father and ex-husband, who are accused of slaying her in the name of honour, police and lawyers say.

Police brought both men before the court in Jhelum as they covered their faces and did not respond to questions from journalists.

After the brief hearing on Saturday, Najful Hussain Shah, the lawyer for the deceased woman's husband, told reporters that he will seek the death penalty for 28-year-old Samia Shahid's father, Mohammed Shahid, and ex-husband, Mohammed Shakeel.

He said Shahid's mother and sister tricked her into visiting Pakistan in July by saying her father was gravely ill and that the women fled to Britain after her murder. He said the Pakistani government is trying to bring them back for questioning.

Also on Saturday, defence lawyer Mohammed Arif dismissed the police allegations as baseless, saying his clients have been wrongly accused. He said he will appeal another court's recent rejection of bail for Mohammed Shahid.

Shahid's murder has shocked many Pakistanis since a government-ordered police probe concluded that she was strangled by her father and her ex-husband. Police allege that the father also stood guard while the ex-husband raped her.

The woman's father initially informed police that she died of natural causes. But Shahid's second husband, Mukhtar Kazim, publicly accused her family of killing her.

The case was reopened and a police probe quickly concluded that Shahid's death was a "premeditated, cold-blooded murder", according to a police statement.

Shahid married her 1st husband in February 2012 but stayed only briefly in Pakistan before returning to England where she obtained a divorce 2 years later. She later married Kazim and moved with him to Dubai.

Source: Associated Press, September 17, 2016

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