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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…

On death row, a whisper saved his life. He still does not know why

Death-row cells on Nusakambangan penal island
Death-row cells on Nusakambangan penal island, where Indonesia
carries out executions by firing squad. 
Jakarta: Minutes before Indian truck driver Gurdip Singh was due to be killed by a firing squad the power went out in his cell on Indonesia's penal island Nusakambangan.

Four men had already been taken out to the killing field. Singh, who was sentenced to death for carrying 300 grams of heroin when arrested at the airport, was number five.

"They came, I said 'let me take a shower first'," Singh told Fairfax Media from Pasir Putih prison on Nusakambangan.

"After I was ready, they prayed for me, the officer placed the handcuffs on one of my hands when suddenly the power went out."

It was pitch black, outside the rain was torrential. When the power came back on Singh saw the prison governor walk towards them. "The prison governor said it to my ear: 'Singh, it is cancelled'."

Singh was among 14 convicted drug felons who were due to be shot dead on July 29 last year. Ten of them received a dramatic last minute reprieve for reasons never properly explained.

"It is still not clear until now why," Singh says. "No one told me why."

A year later there are still no answers. No official stay of execution has been granted.

"This situation has affected mental and physical health conditions of those who were spared," says a joint statement by human rights groups submitted to the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Indonesia earlier this year.

Fairfax Media asked the Indonesian Attorney-General's office if there are any plans for executions this year.

"The Attorney-General has repeatedly said that we are still studying the cases thoroughly," spokesman Muhammad Rum replied.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, Amilia Rosa, August 14, 2017

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