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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…

Egypt hangs 15 over attacks on security forces in Sinai Peninsula

Largest mass execution in Egypt since six convicted jihadists were hanged in 2015

AIRO, Egypt — Egyptian authorities on Tuesday executed 15 prisoners convicted of attacks on security forces in the restive Sinai Peninsula, police officials said.

The men were hanged in two jails where they had been held since military courts sentenced them for the attacks in the Sinai, where jihadists are waging an insurgency, the officials said.

It was the largest mass execution carried out in the North African country since six convicted jihadists were hanged in 2015.

The hangings come a week after the Islamic State group attacked a helicopter with an anti-tank missile at a North Sinai airport as the country’s defense and interior ministers were visiting.

The ministers were unhurt in the attack but an aide to the defense minister was killed along with a pilot.

IS’s Egypt affiliate has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in attacks in the Sinai and also targeted civilians on the mainland.

Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds to death over unrest since the military ousted divisive Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

But most defendants have appealed and won retrials.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 26, 2017


Egypt executes 15 - Reprieve comment


Commenting on the news that Egypt has executed 15 people following a military trial, Maya Foa – Director of international human rights organisation Reprieve – said:

"These death sentences and executions are a flagrant breach of international law. Trials in Egypt routinely fail to meet basic fair trial standards, and this is especially so in mass trials and military tribunals - as in this case. Egypt has executed at least 55 people and sentenced thousands to death since Sisi took power - a massive increase on pre-2014 figures. The international community, particularly Egypt's allies, must condemn these killings. The European Commission and member states must urgently review their assistance to Egypt's judiciary, which is responsible for these atrocities."

A report about the mass execution can be seen here (Arabic).

Reprieve has previously raised concerns over international assistance to Egypt’s security and justice sectors. Reprieve's research has revealed that European bodies have provided training and equipment for Egypt’s criminal justice system, as part of a €10m project sponsored by the European Commission; and that the UK government has allocated millions of pounds to support Egypt’s security sector, including in the area of juvenile detention.

Source: Reprieve, December 26, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning