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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…

Iran: Four hanged on drug charges

Four prisoners were reportedly hanged on drug charges at Mashhad's Vakilabad Prison (northeastern Iran).

Iran Human Rights (JAN 18 2017): Four prisoners were reportedly hanged at Mashhad's Vakilabad Prison on drug related charges.

According to the human rights news agency HRANA, the executions were carried out on the morning of Tuesday January 17. 

One of the prisoners has been identified as Ahmad Shekarabi, sentenced to death on the charge of possession and trafficking five kilograms of heroin.

"Ahmad's first death sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court, but he was sentenced to death again by branch 8 of Mashhad's Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Mazloom," a source close to Mr. Shekarabi's family tells Iran Human Rights. The source insists that Mr. Shekarabi was innocent.

The source adds: Ahmad was a cab driver who had a customer whom he would pick up packages forn at various addresses. The last time Ahmad did so, he arrived at the pick up location and noticed his customer had been arrested. As soon as Ahmad had arrived, he was also arrested, even though he explained that he's just the cab driver. However, the customer denied this and claimed that Ahmad was aware that the packages contained drugs and was involved in the operation. The customer's testimony had many inconsistensies to the point that Ahmad was first exonerated, but branch 2 of the court sentenced him to death anyway. After the Supreme Court quashed his death sentence [pending a new trial], he was sentenced to death again, and this time the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence.

Iranian official sources, including the Judiciary and the media, have been silent about these executions.

The names of the other three prisoners are not known at this time.

Source: Iran Human Rights, January 18, 2017

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