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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 transfers US citizen Frank Amado to 'execution island'

Frank Amado
Frank Amado
Transfer of Frank Amado, who faces death penalty for drug trafficking, prompts fears of new round of executions

Indonesia has transferred a convicted US citizen to its so-called execution island, prompting fears among rights organisations that the government may be preparing another round of firing squads.

Human Rights Watch said Frank Amado, who faces the death penalty for drug trafficking, had been moved to facilities on Nusa Kambangan island, the site of previous recent executions.

Indonesian press is reporting six other foreign nationals on death row may have moved along with him, including Chen Weibiao, Xiao Jin Zeng and Lo Tin Yau, from China; Malaysian citizen E Wee Hock; Frank Nwaomeka from Nigeria; and Lai Siu Cheung Anika, from Hong Kong.

No US citizen has ever been executed by the Indonesian government.

“This is a worrying development. But we can’t be entirely certain if these transfers are part of preparations for new executions, due to the lack of transparency that is just one of many problems with Indonesia’s penal system,” said Ricky Gunawan, director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, an organisation in Jakarta that has worked with Human Rights Watch to monitor Amado’s case.

“The most recent executions were preceded by transfers to Nusa Kambangan, which is often called execution island here, but the government also sometimes moves prisoners there for other reasons.

“There are serious irregularities in Indonesia’s death penalty system and we call for a halt to this round of executions with a view to implementing a new moratorium and then abolition.”

After a halt on executions between 2009 and 2012, Indonesia has carried out three rounds of executions, the last of which took place in July 2016. Four of 14 death row prisoners were executed, and legal experts in the country are still unsure why the other 10 had their deaths postponed.

Human Rights Watch and Gunawan say Amado technically has one more appeal round available to him, but that in the past the Indonesian government has carried out the death sentence in similar situations.

These two groups are not working closely with the other death row prisoners reportedly transferred recently, but like many international organisations they call for a stop to all executions in the country.

Amado has said in previous interviews that he was involved in the storing of shabu, a local name for a drug similar to crystal meth, but that since his arrest in 2009, he has seen that the Indonesian justice system is marked by abuse and corruption.

In 2011, US government representatives said they would not intervene in the case.

Neither the US embassy in Jakarta nor the Indonesian attorney general’s office immediately responded to requests for comment.

Source: The Guardian, Vincent Bevins, March 13, 2017

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