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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…

Indonesia: German, Briton arrested over alleged drug smuggling

Ruckel (right) and Scott are held in Indonesia over drug trafficking charges.
Customs and Excise Office personnel at Ngurah Rai International Airport have arrested a German national over his alleged attempt to smuggle various drugs into Bali.

Siegfried Karl Achim Ruckel, 55, was arrested upon his arrival at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport from Doha, Qatar, via Qatar Airways flight QR-962 on Jan. 26.

Customs officers reportedly seized 7.91 grams of heroin, 2.57 grams of amphetamine and 30 pills of diazepam from the suspect. Ruckel allegedly hid the drugs inside his belongings.

“From the suitcase, we found one plastic package of heroin weighing 6.78 grams. It was hidden in a tissue package,” said Bali Customs and Excise Office prosecution and investigation chief Husni Syaiful on Thursday.

The officers allegedly found the amphetamine in his white bag, 1.21 grams of heroin in his underwear and 30 diazepam pills and 23 pills containing heroin in a small brown bag.

“The suspect was cooperative enough with our officers. During the search, he admitted to carrying other drugs in his underwear,” Husni said.

Bali Police narcotics unit investigator Comr. I Made Pakris said they were investigating whether the suspect was part of an international drug ring.

“He told us that all of the drugs were brought for his personal use only. We cannot simply believe what he told us. We should investigate whether he is part of an international drug ring that is attempting to test security procedures at the Ngurah Rai airport for a bigger smuggling attempt," Pakris said. 

British man accused of drug smuggling


Adam Scott, 48, arrived in Bali from Bangkok on January 24 and was arrested when officers seized 655 Diazepam tablets, also known as Valium, from the computer analyst.

The amount, which was not reported on his customs declaration, was judged to be more than he needed for personal use. 

Scott showed them a prescription for the drug but it only stated 42 pills. 

A 56-year-old German man, Siegfried Karl Achim Ruckel, was arrested two days later when he arrived from Doha after allegedly concealing 7.91g of heroin, 2.57g of amphetamines and 30 Diazepam pills in his belongings. Customs chief Himawan Indarjono said Scott and Ruckel were arrested late last month at Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport.

He said Scott is suspected of violating the Customs and Psychotropic laws, under which he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $22,000 if found guilty. 

If found guilty, Ruckel could face up to a death sentence and a fine of up to $730,000.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws and convicted smugglers are sometimes executed. Eighteen convicts, mostly foreigners, have been executed under President Joko Widodo, who took office in October 2014 and declared a war on illegal drugs. 

More than 150 people are currently on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About one-third of them are foreigners.

Sources: Jakarta Post, Metro, February 22, 2018


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