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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…

Egypt court confirms death sentence of Islamist extremist

Cairo, Egypt
Cairo, Egypt
An Egyptian top court confirmed on Saturday as a final verdict the death sentence against Islamist extremist Adel Habbara over a 2013 deadly anti-security attack in Sinai, official MENA news agency reported.

The Court of Cassation rejected Habbara's appeal against his death penalty and handed 15 other fellow convicts various jail terms in the case known by the Egyptian media as "Rafah 2nd massacre."

The case dates back to Aug. 19, 2013, when militants gunned down 25 military conscripts after they stopped their 2 vehicles in Rafah city of restive North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The court convicted the defendants of deliberate murder, terrorism, espionage, vandalism, resistance of the authorities and possession of weapons , ammunition and explosives.

North Sinai has been the springboard of anti-government armed attacks since the military removed former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests against his 1-year controversial rule and his now-blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group.

Later security crackdown on Morsi's followers left about 1,000 of them killed and thousands more arrested, while terrorist attacks killed several hundreds of police and military men.

"Sinai State," a Sinai-based militant group loyal to the Islamic State (IS) regional terrorist group, claimed responsibility for most of the anti-government attacks.

A security campaign in Sinai killed over 1,200 militants and arrested a similar number of suspects over the past couple of years as part of the country's "anti-terror war," declared by former military chief and current President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi following Morsi's ouster.

On Friday, a bomb attack on a checkpoint in Cairo killed 6 policemen and wounded 3 others. A newly-emerged militant group calling itself "Hasm Movement" claimed responsibility for this attack via an online post as it claimed several others in recent months.

Source: Global Times, December 11, 2016

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