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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 Arabia: Man executed in Qatif for kidnapping and raping minor

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
DAMMAM — A man convicted of kidnapping and raping a minor girl was executed in Qatif on Tuesday.

A source from the Ministry of Interior said 33-year-old Saad Al-Shimrani, a Saudi national, was charged with kidnapping and raping the 14-year-old girl. “His death sentence was approved by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. A royal decree was issued to execute the man for his crimes,” said the source.

Al-Shimrani was arrested in connection with a previous kidnap case but was released on bail. “Six years ago, the man was convicted of kidnapping and raping a girl aged between 12 to 14 years old. The man was from an area outside of Qatif Governorate. He is the father of two children. He kidnapped his first victim on her way back from school,” said the source.

The source said the man took the victim to an apartment near Dammam. “The man assaulted her in the apartment but he did not rape her. He took pictures of her body and threatened to post them online if she does not submit to his wishes the next time. He took her back to an area near her home in the evening. The girl walked back home crying,” said the source.

The source added the girl told her parents of the incident the minute she got home.

“The girl’s parents reported the incident to the police. The police told the parents that they need to trap the man and catch him red-handed. The man called the girl the next day and the family of the girl lured him in. Police located the man and attempted to arrest him,” said the source.

The man escaped but he was later arrested near the apartment where he had held the girl captive, the source added.

“The man was released on bail after his arrest over kidnap charges. But he went on to commit a second crime. He kidnapped a 14-year-old girl from the street. The girl managed to call her parents while she was kidnapped and inform them that she was kidnapped and being taken to either Dhahran or Dammam,” said the source.

The source said the parents of the girl reported the incident to the police and the girl was found in Dammam.

“The man was initially sentenced to four years in prison and 1,500 lashes. The sentence was later increased to six years in prison and 1,600 lashes. During an appeal hearing, the public prosecutor demanded that the man receives capital punishment for his horrid crimes. The Qatif General Court then sentenced the man to death and he was executed in the governorate on Tuesday,” said the source.

Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword.

Saudi Arabia has a strict Islamic legal code (Sharia) under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Amnesty International says the kingdom carried out at least 159 death sentences in 2015, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

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Sources: Saudi Gazette, Agence France-Presse, October 20, 2016

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