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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…

Belarus: Lukashenko ready to impose moratorium on death penalty if there is majority public support

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
I am ready to impose a moratorium on the death penalty if such a measure is supported by the majority of Belarusians, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at the meeting with the members of the public, representatives of the Belarusian and foreign mass media on 3 February, BelTA has learned.

The head of state noted that he does not have the right to abolish the death penalty or impose a moratorium on its use because the majority of the Belarusians voted against abolishing it in the referendum. Alexander Lukashenko suggested launching a big campaign in the society (including in the parliament, parties, public associations) to discuss the matter and study all pros and cons. "If people vote to abolish capital punishment, I will sign the corresponding decree the same day as the results of the referendum are announced," the President stressed.

"Every time that a death sentence is awarded, I sign a decree. You have no idea what it takes. I understand that a man will be gone," the head of state said. "But before I sign a decree, I study the case file on the man: photographs, operational materials, etc. When I see them, my blood turns to ice," the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko cited an example of the recent criminal case of Mogilev 'black realtors' who had been killing people for several years burying them alive to get their apartments. "They have killed many old men and women... And what for?" the President stressed.

The issue of death penalty is often politicized, the head of state noted. "I often tell Europeans: Let's start with America. Will you force them to abolish the death penalty? Or others from whom you take money, shake hands with? Let's start with them. These are double standards," Alexander Lukashenko emphasized.

The president recalled that Russia imposed the moratorium a long time ago but eventually came to regret it. Now they are not abolishing it for a number of reasons. "Maybe it is bad that we have this moratorium. Or maybe we are right? Those who have imposed the moratorium are ready to cancel it today. It is just that they do not know how," Alexander Lukashenko noted.

Source: belta.by, Feb. 3, 2017


Belarus cannot abolish capital punishment - president


Capital punishment cannot be abolished in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Europe's only retentionist country, said on Friday.

"I have no right to abolish capital punishment as we held a referendum," Lukashenko told reporters, referring to the referendum held in 1996 when over 80% of Belarusian voted against abolishing the death penalty.

"If people vote against death penalty, I will sign the moratorium," the president said, accusing Europe of double standards.

"Let's begin with America, make them abolish capital punishment," he said.

Under the Criminal Code of Belarus, capital punishment can be imposed for terrorism, treason, war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, homicide, etc.

According to Amnesty International, at least 3 people were executed in Belarus in 2016.

Source: tass.com, Feb. 3, 2017

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