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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…

British dad spends 1,000th day on Ethiopia’s death row

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege and his family
Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege and his family
A father-of-three from London has now spent 1,000 days on Ethiopia’s death row, after the country’s security forces kidnapped and rendered him there in June 2014.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a vocal critic of Ethiopia’s ruling party, disappeared while transiting through an international airport almost three years ago.

Ethiopian officials later admitted to having illegally ‘rendered’ him to a secret prison, in a process which British diplomats privately deemed “completely unacceptable”.

Mr Tsege is being held unlawfully under a death sentence that was handed down in absentia, when he lived in North London with his partner and their three young children.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has failed to secure Mr Tsege’s return to the UK, despite visiting Ethiopia for the first time as recently as last week.

Mr Johnson claimed on Friday (17th) to have secured progress on the case, saying that Mr Tsege has been promised regular access to a lawyer.

However, the UK government’s focus on legal access for Mr Tsege has caused dismay among MPs from across the political spectrum.

A former Attorney-General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Lord Chancellor have all warned that: “The British Government’s emphasis on securing Mr Tsege a lawyer ignores statements by the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister confirming that ‘there is no appeal process’ available to Mr Tsege.”

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“It is appalling that Andy Tsege is spending his 1,000th day on death row in Ethiopia, just days after Boris Johnson missed a vital chance to seek his return to the UK. It’s clear there is no justice for Andy in the compromised Ethiopian court system, and it’s hard to see how a lawyer can help him when the Ethiopians have said he has no way of appealing his death sentence. It’s time for the UK Government to bring this British father home.”

On Monday (20th) at 2.30pm, Mr Tsege's partner and children will go to the Foreign Office to hand in a petition calling on Boris Johnson to secure his return to the UK.

➤ Further detail on Mr Tsege’s case can be found on the Reprieve website, here.

Source: Reprieve, March 19, 2017

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