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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…

Iraq executes 13 convicted of ‘terror’ charges

Baghdad Central Prison, Iraq
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraq executed 13 people for "terrorist crimes" after legal proceedings, the justice ministry announced on Monday.

Eleven of the individuals were convicted of exploding car bombs, killing security personnel, or kidnappings.

The Ministry of Justice stated it renews its commitment to implement provisions of Iraqi law within its framework "without being affected by any side pressures."

Details about the individuals executed, the courts, their trials, a timeline for alleged crimes, prosecutors and defense teams were not released.

Iraq's justice system is complicated and not transparent, a Rudaw English investigative series of reports entitled 'Justice After ISIS' discovered in early 2017. 

Iraq executed 111 people in 2017, according to an Amnesty International report released in March.

In Nasiriya prison on December 15, 38 people were hanged after terrorism convictions.

More than 19,000 were arrested and charged with links to ISIS during the three-year conflict, according to an Associated Press report. More than 3,000 of them were sentenced to death.

"We are deeply alarmed by this report and the Iraqi authorities’ mass use of the death penalty and the courts’ reliance on torture-tainted 'confessions' to secure convictions," wrote Lynn Maalouf, the Middle East Research Director at Amnesty in a March 21 report.

According to AP, thousands more suspects are believed to be held by Iraqi Federal Police, military intelligence agencies, and Kurdish security forces.

The Kurdistan Region has capital punishment. More than 250 convicted felons are currently in Kurdish prisons. 

In the majority of cases, the death penalties have been suspended indefinitely with the violators serving life-sentences in prison instead. 

The suspension of the sentences is due to a de facto moratorium that Kurdish authorities have imposed on the death penalty since 2008, which essentially blocks its use except for terror-related charges or “exceptionally heinous crimes.” 

Kurdish law requires the president to sign the death sentences before they can be carried out. Since 2008, the death penalty has been carried out in four cases. Most recently, a Kurdish man and his two wives, convicted of abducting and murdering two schoolgirls, were hanged in November 2016.

Human rights groups have urged the Kurdistan Region to abolish the death penalty permanently and commute them to life in prison. Kurdish officials have denied that Peshmerga or security forces conducted extrajudicial executions during the ISIS conflict.

Source: rudaw.net, April 17, 2018


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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