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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…

Two given death penalty for Gaza drug smuggling

Execution in Gaza City on October 2, 2013
Execution in Gaza City on October 2, 2013
A Hamas military court on Sunday sentenced 2 Palestinians to death for drug smuggling in the Gaza Strip, in the 1st punishment of its kind in the enclave.

"The Gaza military court announced the death penalty for 2 civilians from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, for selling narcotics," the Hamas-controlled interior ministry said in a statement.

It said a 3rd suspect was sentenced to hard labor.

Authorities have seized drugs with a street value of around $1 million (900,000 euros) over the past few months, the ministry said.

They seized 1,250 packets of cannabis and 400 pills of Tramadol -- a powerful opiate-based painkiller -- in January alone, it said.

Until Sunday, only people guilty of spying for Israel or murder had received the death penalty in Gaza, controlled by Islamist Hamas since 2007.

All Palestinian death sentences in theory have to be approved by president Mahmoud Abbas, but Hamas has long refused to accept his legitimacy.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights says around a dozen death sentences have been passed down in Gaza since the start of 2017.

Source: The Daily Star, March 19, 2017

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