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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…

Four militants executed in Pakistan

Military courts have sentenced 161 militants to death penalty since 2014 following Peshawar school attack

Another 4 militants, convicted by military courts for their involvement in terrorism, have been executed at a jail in northwestern Pakistan, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.

"Another 4 hardcore terrorists involved in committing heinous offenses relating to terrorism, including the killing of innocent civilians, attacking armed forces of Pakistan and law enforcement agencies have been executed at a jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [northwestern province]," the spokesman said in a statement.

The executed convicts Rehman ud Din, Mushtaq Khan, Obaid ur Rehman, and Zafar Iqbal were members of the Pakistani Taliban coalition, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Pakistan established controversial military courts to try "hardcore" militants following a deadly gun-and-bomb attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014, which claimed the lives of over 140 people, mostly students.

The military courts, which were given another 2-year extension by parliament last month, have sentenced 161 militants to the death penalty, 26 of whom have been executed.

Islamabad lifted a 6-year long de facto ban on capital punishment in 2014 following the Peshawar school attack.

According to official statistics, over 8,000 death row convicts are currently in jail.

Source: Anadolu Agency, April 25, 2017

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