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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…

Bahrain court upholds death, life sentences

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Defendants charged with murder of police officer
Manama: Bahrain’s Cassation Court on Monday upheld the death sentence for two men convicted by lower courts on the charge of the premeditated murder of a police officer.
The court also upheld life in prison for three defendants and jail terms for the others varying from three to 10 years.
Only one of the 13 defendants was acquitted in the case where they faced charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, forming a terror group, harbouring fugitives, failing to report a terrorist plot and possessing incendiary devices.
The public prosecution said it received information on April 14, 2016, from the police directorate in Manama about a group of terrorists who used Molotov cocktails to set a police patrol vehicle ablaze to kill officers.
Investigations revealed the terrorists had ambushed the patrol in Karbabad and doused it with petrol before setting it alight. One man burned to death and the other two suffered burns.
On June 5, 2017,…

Arizona: Man sentenced to death for murder of pregnant girlfriend

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PHOENIX - A Valley man has been sentenced to death for the 2012 murder of his pregnant girlfriend, officials said Monday.
Dwandarrius Robinson, 27, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson of an occupied structure, and one count of kidnapping.
According to officials, Robinson called 911 on July 18, 2012 reporting that he'd arrived at his north Phoenix apartment to find it on fire, and was unsure if his girlfriend was still inside.
Firefighters entered the home and found 21-year-old Shaniqua Hall, who was 9 months pregnant at the time, bound with duct tape, a rag shoved down her throat, and handcuffed inside a bedroom.
Investigators found evidence that the fire had been intentionally set and an accelerant used.
During the trial's penalty phase, jurors found seven aggravating factors, leaving Robinson eligible for the death penalty.
“The callous and inhumane killing of his girlfriend and their unborn child is the worst example of a man utterly f…

Iraq court sentences Belgian jihadist to death for IS membership

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An Iraqi court on Tuesday sentenced a Belgian jihadist, who threatened Europe in propaganda videos, to death by hanging for membership of the Islamic State group. 
The tough punishment is the latest doled out in the conflict-scarred country to foreigners who flocked to the self-declared caliphate of IS. 
Tarik Jadaoun -- known by his nom de guerre Abu Hamza al-Beljiki -- earlier pleaded not guilty to a range of terror charges, insisting he had "got lost" and pleading for mercy. 
Born in 1988, Jadaoun -- who was captured in ex-IS bastion Mosul in August -- appeared before the Baghdad court dressed in a beige prison uniform with a shaved head and bushy moustache. 
The hearing lasted for less than 10 minutes, with a judge sentencing him to be "hanged until death". 
Jadaoun -- who refused to defend himself after the charges were read out -- was immediately taken out of court with his face covered by guards and loaded into a prison van. He now has 30 days to appeal the…

Iran: Prisoner Hanged in Isfahan

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Iran Human Rights (May 21, 2018,): A prisoner was hanged at Isfahan Central Prison on murder charges last week.
According to IHR sources, on the morning of Sunday, May 13, a prisoner was hanged at Isfahan Central Prison. 
The prisoner, identified as Jafar Firouzkhani from Hashtrud city, was sentenced to death on murder charges.
A close source told IHR, “Jafar Firouzkhani was arrested and sentenced to death on the charge of murdering a car dealer in Najafabad, Isfahan in 2014.” He also added, “The defendant murdered the victim over the financial dispute. He was unable to win the consent of the plaintiffs.”
The prisoner was transferred to Isfahan Central Prison from Najafabad Prison a few days before his execution.
The execution of this prisoner has not been announced by the state-run media so far.
According to Iran Human Rights annual report on the death penalty, 240 of the 517 execution sentences in 2017 were implemented due to murder charges. 
There is a lack of a classification of …

Turkey Coup Trial: Court to Jail 104 Ex-Military for Life

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A Turkish court has sentenced 104 former military officers to life in prison for their involvement in a 2016 coup attempt, state media report.
They were given “aggravated life sentences”, which come with tougher terms than a normal life sentence.
The country’s president had previously said he backed reintroducing the death penalty for coup plotters.
The failed coup to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left at least 260 dead and 2,200 injured on 15 July 2016.
The Turkish government has since led a crackdown on alleged coup supporters, with the dismissal of more than 150,000 state employees and the arrest of some 50,000 people.
Of the 280 ex-military people on trial, the court in Izmir also served lesser sentences to a further 52 defendants.
Sitting in Izmir in western Turkey, the court gave 21 people 20 years in prison for “assisting the assassination of the president”, while 31 others were sentenced to between seven and 11 years for “membership of a terrorist organisation”, st…

How new antiterrorism law will change Indonesia's war on terror

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Indonesia will soon have a new antiterrorism law to replace the current law, which is widely seen as weak, with deliberations on the antiterrorism bill expected to conclude this May or June.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post in an interview on Thursday, Enny Nurbaningsih, head of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration's team to deliberate the antiterrorism bill, ensured the new legislation could provide security for Indonesians against deadly terror attacks such as those that had occurred recently in numerous places across Indonesia's most populated island of Java.
Calls for the government and the House of Representatives to conclude the long-due deliberation on the bill have mounted after the attacks, which were allegedly conducted by an Islamic State (IS)-linked local jihadist organization known as Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD).
Enny, who is also head of the Law and Human Rights Ministry's National Law Development Agency (BPHN), said the government expected d…

In Iran, gay men face the death penalty; transgender people face stern discrimination despite fatwa

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Iran's transgender community: Legally recognised yet socially ostracized
TEHRAN, Iran – Nahal smokes yet another cigarette on her mother’s balcony overlooking Tehran, one of the few peaceful places the 19-year-old transgender woman has in Iran, where her identity can bring harassment and prying, judging eyes on the street.
Nahal recalled how she had hardly started high school before being forced to leave over her classmates’ insistence she dress as a man. Her manicured fingernails, painted pink, brushed away her long brown hair as she looked through old photographs of her childhood, recounting how even her own family has struggled to accept her.
“I no longer see my relatives,” she said. “Maybe I’m a sign that if your own children will have a similar problem later, you can accept it.”
It shouldn’t be like this for Nahal in the Islamic Republic, which – perhaps to the surprise of those abroad – has perhaps the most open mindset in the Middle East toward transgender people. The Shiit…

Iran: Man hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on murder charges

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Iran Human Rights (May 16, 2018): A prisoner was hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on murder charges.
According to a close source, on the morning of Wednesday, May 16, a prisoner was hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on murder charges. 
The prisoner, named Babak Rezaei, was sentenced to death and 10 years in prison on the charge of murder during an armed robbery. 
The robbery took place in October 2012.
According to a report by Tasnim news agency quoting the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Ardabil, Naser Atabati, “The defendant was 41 years old and he committed armed robbery and murder with his accomplice.”
It should be noted that during the last week, the statistical department of Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported 11 executions in Iran.
According to Iran Human Rights annual report on the death penalty, 240 of the 517 execution sentences in 2017 were implemented due to murder charges. 
There is a lack of a classification of murder by degree in Iran which results in issuing a deat…

For victims' families, no easy answer on whether the ordeal of a death penalty case is worth it

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The parents of the murdered students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been asked — directly by prosecutors, indirectly by defense lawyers, and while talking amongst themselves — whether the young man responsible for mercilessly slaughtering their children should be executed for the crime.
At stake is more than just the life of the killer, Nikolas Cruz. Whenever the death penalty is ordered in Florida, the case is automatically appealed, guaranteeing the victims’ families will be locked with Cruz in a lengthy process that can take years or even decades to resolve.
It’s a position no one envies, but some who have been through similar ordeals say the Parkland parents cannot give a wrong answer, no matter what they decide.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel talked to family members of three victims whose accused killers faced the death penalty. They agreed that the process is long, grueling and takes an emotional toll. Yet none regret their decisions to ask prosecutors to seek a …

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

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31 years ago, on May 20, 1987, just before midnight, I was sitting in the witness area of the Mississippi Gas Chamber watching someone die in front of me. His name was Edward Earl Johnson.
I am both sad and glad that Edward’s final two weeks, right up to his agonising death, were recorded in Paul Hamann’s extraordinary BBC documentary Fourteen Days in May. Sad, because from time to time I find myself forced to relive that horror, when I watch the film at some public event; glad, because at least Edward’s senseless death has had positive repercussions – the film inspiring many to take up the battle for people in his precarious predicament.
Yet it irks me beyond measure that people who should know better use their position of power to prognosticate that the justice system never executes the innocent. For example, in a case called Kansas v. March, in 2006, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia loudly proclaimed that there is not “a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a…