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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 sentenced 212 to death in Mosul since area retaken by Iraqi forces

Iraqi soldiers in Mosul in August 2017
Human rights groups have accused Iraqi forces of flawed trials leading to unfair convictions

Baghdad: Iraqi courts have sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for complicity with Islamic State, since the area was retaken by Iraqi forces in July and August 2017, a judiciary spokesman said on Wednesday.

Mosul was home to two million people before being overrun in 2014 by Daesh which proclaimed a so-called “caliphate” stretching into neighbouring Syria.

Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declared full victory over the group last December after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country.

Since then, Human rights groups have accused Iraqi and other regional forces of inconsistencies in the judicial process and flawed trials leading to unfair convictions.

Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said on Wednesday that criminal courts falling under the Nineveh Federal Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Mosul, had so far ruled on a total of 815 cases since the area was recaptured from Daesh.

“The statistics coming from the criminal courts show that 815 people have gone on trial and that 212 were sentenced to death. A further 150 were sentenced to life in prison,” said judiciary spokesman Judge Abdul Sattar Al Birqdar.

It was not immediately clear how many, if any, of the death sentences had been already carried out.

“The vast majority of these rulings were against elements of Daesh who were proven to have committed crimes, and came after public trials conducted in accordance with the law. Defendants were afforded their rights,” Al Birqdar said.

Another 341 people were jailed for various terms and 112 were acquitted, he said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch released an 80-page report in December accusing Iraqi federal and Kurdish regional judiciaries of violating the rights of Daesh suspects with flawed trials, arbitrary detentions under harsh conditions and broad prosecutions.

Source: Gulf News, April 18, 2018


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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