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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…

Bahrain sentences two to death for police bombing

Bahrain International Airport
The July 2015 bombing of a police patrol in the Shiite quarter of Sitra killed two officers and wounded six others

Dubai: A Bahraini court sentenced two people to death on Wednesday over a deadly bomb attack on a police patrol in 2015, a judicial source said.

Five others were sentenced to life in prison while six defendants received 10-year sentences, including a Shiite cleric, the source said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to brief the press.

The cleric, Shaikh Hassan Eisa, a former MP and member of the now-banned Al Wefaq opposition group, was found guilty of using Iranian funds to finance a “terrorist cell”, the source said.

One of those given the death penalty was sentenced in absentia.

In total 24 people were tried in connection with the attack. Two were acquitted while 20 were handed prison sentences ranging from six months to life. Eight of the defendants were also stripped of citizenship.

The July 2015 bombing of a police patrol in the Shiite quarter of Sitra, a mixed Sunni-Shiite village south of the capital Manama, killed two officers and wounded six others.

Authorities blamed the bombing on Iranian-backed “terrorist cells” they say are forming throughout the country.

A Bahrain court last week sentenced three people to death over another string of bombings that targeted police patrols in the majority-Shiite village of Kurayat, west of Manama.

The kingdom has revoked the citizenship of a number of anti-government figures, including Shiite cleric Shaikh Eisa Qassem.

Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group, was dissolved by court order in late 2016.

The justice ministry this month filed a lawsuit to dissolve the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), the country’s main secular opposition party.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 29, 2017


Trump resumes arms sales to Bahrain despite repression - Reprieve comment


Commenting on reports that the US will resume fighter jet sales to Bahrain, Maya Foa, a director at human rights organization Reprieve, said:

“President Trump’s overtures to Bahrain send a worrying message at a time when the Kingdom is stepping up an unprecedented campaign of internal repression. Political protestors have been tortured and sentenced to death on the basis of forced ‘confessions’ – and the Bahraini government just resumed executions after a 7-year moratorium. Meanwhile, Bahraini authorities continue to threaten dissidents, and subject scores of political detainees to horrific abuses. Trump must urgently signal to Bahrain that the US condemns this political crackdown – and that he will do nothing to support it.” 

On 15th January 2017, Bahrain executed three men who said they were tortured into making false confessions.

The Obama Administration had delayed the sale of these aircraft in response to human rights concerns.

Source: Reprieve, March 30, 2017

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