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

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…

Death row prisoners in limbo in Indonesia after unexplained stay of execution

Isolation cells on Nusakambangan island, West Java, Indonesia
Isolation cells on Nusakambangan island, West Java, Indonesia
Jakarta: A condemned Pakistani man has spoken of his suffering as his life remains in limbo more than two months after he was mysteriously spared from an Indonesian firing squad.

Garment trader Zulfiqar Ali was among 14 convicted drug offenders slated to be executed on April 29 as part of Indonesia's so-called "war on drugs".

But 10 prisoners, including Mr Ali, were given a last-minute stay of execution for reasons never explained by the Indonesian government.

"I am in darkness until now," Mr Ali told Fairfax Media via his lawyer.

"I am suffering for a long time and still this is a time of suffering for me."

Mr Ali was arrested on drug trafficking charges in 2004 after an Indian acquaintance, Gurdip Singh, named him as the owner of 300 grams of heroin.

An internal probe into Mr Ali's case, ordered by the Indonesian government, found he was a victim of conspiracy and likely to be innocent.

The investigation by then director-general of human rights Hafid Abbas, which found evidence of human rights violations and abuse of power at all levels, was ignored by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"I have sent a very strong letter to President Jokowi three days ago and strongly advised the president to immediately provide clemency to Zulfiqar Ali," Dr Hafid, who is now a commissioner with the National Commission for Human Rights told Fairfax Media.

However a spokesman for the Attorney-General, Muhammad Rum, said the executions would still be carried out. "The plan is still on, it was only postponed," he told Fairfax Media. "We haven't decided on the time."

Since his death was mysteriously postponed, Mr Ali, who has cirrhosis, has been ferried between hospital and a jail on Nusakambangan, the island where Indonesia carries out its executions.

He and another of the condemned prisoners, Indonesian Merri Utami, have repeatedly asked to be transferred back to the jails where they were incarcerated prior to July's executions.

Ms Utami, whom supporters say was a victim of human trafficking, has been kept in an isolation cell at a jail in Cilacap, the closest town to Nusakambangan.

"She is in isolation 24/7 except for two hours of church time each week," her lawyer, Afif Abdul Oyim told Fairfax Media.

"Her daughter spoke to her and told us her health has been impacted by the isolation. Emotionally, she is still traumatised by the execution day. Sometimes she will hear her cell doors opening, like the one she heard during execution night. She has no activities all day in isolation. It adds to the stress."

But Mr Rum said the nine male prisoners would remain on Nusakambangan and Ms Utami would stay at the women's jail in Cilacap.

"They are already there, so they stay there," he said.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield and Amilia Rosa, October 4, 2016

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