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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…

Indonesia: Man on death row claims innocence as execution imminent

Nusakambangan Island, Indonesia
Nusakambangan Island, Indonesia
“They betrayed my trust,” Santa said when The Jakarta Post visited the 43-year-old father-of-one at the Salemba detention center in Central Jakarta, recently. He repeated the phrase several times throughout the conversation, expressing strong disappointment in his business colleagues, several Chinese nationals whom Santa believes put him on death row.

It all started in April last year when Santa, who ran a small business offering driving services, got an order to pick up four Chinese nationals at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta International Airport.

One order led to another, and the Chinese men became his business partners in distributing children’s toys imported from China.

One of the men, whom he referred as Jia Bo, called him on the evening of June 3 last year, asking him to come to a toy warehouse in North Jakarta for a Mandarin-Indonesian translation job.

Alas, 12 police officers from the Jakarta Police were waiting when he arrived and immediately arrested Santa over allegations of possessing 20 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu-shabu. The police also arrested four other Chinese men that evening, Tan Weiming aka Aming, Shaoyan aka Xiao Yan Zi, Shi Jiayi aka Jia Bo and Qui Junjie aka Junji.

The West Jakarta District Court sentenced Santa to death on March 3, but the court sentenced the four Chinese citizens to life imprisonment.

All of them were indicted under articles 112, 113 and 114 of Law No. 35/2009 on narcotics. The law stipulates sentences of a minimum of six years and a maximum life sentence for drugs trafficking. Santa’s lawyers from the Jakarta-based Community Legal Aide Institute (LBH Masyarakat) slammed the sentence as “blatant injustice.”

LBH Masyarakat decried the sentence due to several irregularities, one of which was the absence of a lawyer during an interrogation by the Jakarta Police’s investigator on June 4. Santa was allegedly forced to admit that he imported the meth and that he had consumed the drugs. A urine test later showed that Santa was clean, said one of his lawyers, Muhammad Afif.

Afif said the trial was illegitimate because so many hearings had been delayed due to the failure of prosecutors to present witnesses and translators. “We were given only 30 minutes to prepare our final defense statement,” Afif added, elaborating that the defendant would normally have at least seven days to prepare the final defense statement. “It seems like the trial was a mere formality and that the judges had made their decision before the end of the process.”

Human rights campaigners have called on the government to impose a moratorium on capital punishment due to the country’s corrupt legal system and have denounced President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decisiveness on the policy.

In a recent hearing with the House of Representatives’ Commission III overseeing legal affairs, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo reaffirmed that Indonesia would continue to use death penalty.

Prasetyo admitted that the government had temporarily put executions on hold to avoid criticism while Indonesia was vying to be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Over the weekend, at least seven death row convicts were transferred to the secluded prison island Nusakambangan in Cilacap, West Java, along with 50 convicts from various penitentiaries in the country.

An authority in charge of Nusakambangan, Abdul Aris, confirmed this. “It’s true. Fifty prisoners from Salemba [penitentiary] and six from the Magelang [penitentiary] were transferred here on Friday [last week],” he said.

The last time death row convicts were executed on Nusakambangan was in July 2016. Four drug convicts were executed from the 14 listed at the time, including an Indonesian man and three Nigerians.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Margareth S. Aritonang and Agus Maryono, March 14, 2017

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