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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…

Malaysia: Family claims brothers' hanging botched

B. Rames Batumalai and Suthar Batumalai
B. Rames Batumalai (left) and Suthar Batumalai
The family of brothers Rames Batumalai, 45, and Suthar Batumalai, 40, alleged that Suthar's body was found to have strangulation marks around his neck area, the neck was not broken (the neck is broken clean in a proper hanging), and his face was swelled up.

"We are not contented with the death and how they were executed. Suthar's face was swollen. He showed signs of strangulation.

"His face was swollen, there were marks on the neck and his eyes were bulging," sister-in-law B. Devi told a press conference this morning.

Both brothers were hanged to death on March 15 for their 2010 murder conviction despite the family filing for a clemency petition in late February. The brothers were charged with murdering a man named Krishnan Raman.

The siblings were also executed on a Wednesday instead of Friday, when hangings in Malaysia are usually conducted, which raised more questions on whether their execution was botched.

The family's lawyer, N. Surendran, demanded that the prison authorities and Home Ministry give a detailed explanation to the family on the way the execution was conducted and also on why it was done before the clemency petition's result was known.

"From a legal point of view, both of them were executed without exhausting all legal processes.

"A prisoner who has been convicted, has the legal right for his clemency to be considered under constituency. If you don't allow [the] process to finish, you have breached the law," he said.

The Padang Serai MP also demanded authorities to have an inquiry on the brothers' execution and answers to be given immediately to the family.

"We are also asking explanation on manner hanging carried out and explanation on why the neck of Suthar was in that condition. We are entitled to these explanations as family members.

"We want an inquiry by authorities. I hope the home minister and authorities respond to this as soon as possible as it is a case of public interest," Surendran added.

Amnesty International executive director Shamini Darshini said the brothers' hanging raised questions on the transparency of the death penalty in Malaysia.

"Legal processes around death penalty is not completely clear. This is clear indication, it is not (transparent).

"When a person is hanged, there is a science to it. In this case, there are questions whether execution was correctly done. This seems to indicate a botched execution," she said today.

She also urged Putrajaya to declare a moratorium to prevent such incidences from happening in other death penalty cases in the future.

"The death penalty in Malaysia needs to be abolished. We need the government to put in place a moratorium to prevent this from happening again. That's what we calling for an immediate moratorium," Shamini said, adding that Malaysia has over 1,068 people on death row as of March this year.

In the application of clemency previously sighted by Malay Mail Online, the family had obtained a statutory declaration from the deceased's wife to forgive the brothers.

Rames and Suthar were sentenced to death in April 2010 under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder, after being convicted for the February 4, 2006 murder.

Source: themalaymailonline.com, July 4, 2017

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