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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…

Pakistani among two drug dealers executed by Saudi Arabia

Medieval and barbaric: public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Medieval and barbaric: public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia executed two convicted drug traffickers on Thursday, bringing the number of prisoners killed in the kingdom to 20 so far this year.

The state-run SPA news agency named the two men as Saudi Arabian national Nasser Harshan and Pakistani national Namtallah Khasta Qul.

Both were put to death on Thursday after being convicted of drug trafficking in the kingdom.

SPA said Harshan was a repeat offender found guilty of dealing hashish. Qul was found guilty of dealing heroin.

More than 150 people were executed last year in Saudi Arabia, according to London-based rights group Amnesty International.

Saudi Arabia has a strict Islamic legal code (Sharia) under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Amnesty reported 158 death penalties in the country for 2015, the highest annual rate in the past two decades.

Among those executed last year was Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr, a high-profile figure behind a string of Shia protests in 2011 demanding reform in the kingdom.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 23, 2017

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