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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…

Australian heroin mule faces life in infested Cambodian prison

Ms Tran with the heroin on scales.
SHE is accused of transporting nearly 2kg of heroin from Brazil to Cambodia and was preparing to return to Australia via Hong Kong when she was arrested.

Australian Ve Thi Tran, 37, is now in the notorious Prey Sar prison after being stopped as she was checking in at Phnom Penh airport last weekend.

The Vietnamese-born woman faces a possible life sentence in the squalid facility, which is mosquito-infested, caked in human waste and overrun by rats that inmates skin and eat.

Survival in Complex Two of the prison — for women and minors — will depend on outside financial help to fund water and food.

In the overcrowded cells where twice daily meals comprise of cheap rice and vegetables, maybe catfish or pork grease, everything must be paid for including soap and visits.

Courtesy of six bags of brown powder cut from the lining of her smart red suitcase, Tran is being held in an overcrowded cell complex where just going to the toilet is a health hazard.

Transnational crime officers in collaboration with Khmer immigration and customs officers arrested her on information provided by Australian Federal Police.

Unlike Indonesia, where an AFP tip-off led to the Bali Nine arrests, Cambodia does not have a death penalty.

But Tran’s alleged transportation of the drugs from South America via Phnom Penh to a possible destination of Hong Kong could mean decades in Prey Sar.

If convicted, she could face life without parole, like other foreign nationals caught smuggling drugs through the country.

Last year, a Malaysian man carrying 1.08kg of heroin through Phnom Penh airport was sentenced to life.

Over in Prey Sar’s Complex One, for male inmates, Australian film maker James Ricketson, accused of spying, is in reportedly declining health.

The 67-year-old has pleaded for release, and suffers from skin rashes, swollen legs from a heart condition, lice and scabies.

Australian child sex offender Guiseppe Nicolosi, 61, died there last December while serving an eight-year sentence for raping a four-year-old girl.

In July last year, 57-year-old former “Solo Man” soft drink ad star Mark Robert Coutelas was arrested in the beach resort of Sihanoukville and charged with unlawful transporting or trafficking methamphetamines.

Dino Rossetto, 50, from country NSW, was also arrested allegedly trying to sell drugs to an undercover policeman.

In the Police Judicial or PJ prison outside Phnom Penh, 45-year-old Queensland woman Yoshe Ann Taylor is housed between its decaying walls.

Taylor, serving 23 years for trying to smuggle 2kg of heroin, claims to be the victim of an internet dating scam.

A Nigerian man Precious Chineme Nwoko is also now serving time in a Cambodian prison for drug offences.

Ve Thi Tran’s Australian passport shows she was born in Hue, Vietnam in 1980 and obtained her passport last November.

Cambodian Immigration ­Department photographs posted on its Facebook page show officials allegedly retrieving bags of brown powder from the cut lining of her suitcase.

Seven bags of powder have been placed on a set of scales, allegedly containing 1814 grams of heroin.

Ms Tran’s belongings strewn across a table as she sits under arrest among officials include packets of Kit-Kats and other confectionery, clothing and handbags.

Ms Tran is made to pose with the bags of alleged heroin on the scale and in mug shots wearing ripped blue jeans, a black leather jacket and black trainers.

The AFP is “working with Cambodian authorities” over the case.

Criticism was laid against the federal police after the 2005 Bali Nine tip-off resulted in ­the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran ­Sukumaran at Nusakambangan, Indonesia in April 2015.

Source: news.com.au, Candace Sutton, January 9, 2018


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