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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…

India's Supreme Court stays execution of Mumbai blast convict

Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of death row convict Tahir Merchant in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. The convict, who facilitated training of several co-accused in Pakistan, had challenged his death penalty claiming no role in the conspiracy.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, sought a response from the CBI within 6 weeks and called for the case records from the special TADA court in Mumbai, which had awarded death sentence to Merchant and co-convict Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, besides giving life imprisonment to gangster Abu Salem. Merchant was convicted in the second stage of trial in the case as he was absconding earlier.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on March 14 next year. As many as 257 people were killed and 718 injured in the serial blasts at 12 places in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.

The bench, which also included Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.M. Shantanagoudar, said, "The state of Maharashtra is directed to compile the evidence in entirety and file the compilation in convenient volumes and also serve a copy thereof to the counsel for the appellant (Merchant)."

Merchant had challenged the September 7 order of the special TADA court which had held that he was amongst the main conspirators.

The trial court had noted that Merchant worked with (absconding conspirator) Tiger Memon and participated in several conspiracy meetings in Dubai.

He also made travel arrangements, financed the stay and travel of several co-accused and facilitated their training in Pakistan, the court had said.

"The role of Tahir Merchant in the conspiracy is prominent. He is one of the initiators of the conspiracy," it had said. Merchant's trial was separated from the main case as he was arrested after the first set of trial had already started.

Source: asianage.com, December 5, 2017


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