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Death Penalty Information

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Russia: opposes execution of Saddam Hussien, extends own ban on the death penalty
MOSCOW, Nov 15, 2006 (AFP) - Russian lawmakers Wednesday passed a resolution opposing the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein saying it would destabilise the Middle East, while also voting to extend Russia's own moratorium on the death penalty.
Executing Saddam -- who was sentenced to death by hanging for crimes against humanity for ordering the execution of 148 Shiites in the 1980s -- would destabilise the wider region, according to the text.
"Carrying out the verdict will not resolve the problems of the Iraqi people, but rather risks provoking new ones, reviving stronger opposition, vengeance and hostilities," said the resolution, approved unanimously by the lower house.
"Any measure which can provoke a rise in violence, an aggravation of the existing disagreements in Iraq, not only goes against the vital interests and needs of Iraqi society, but will seriously destabilise the situation in the whole region."
The text also alleged "interference in Iraq's internal affairs" by "certain foreign politicians" who it said backed the death sentence for the deposed dictator.
Russia's foreign ministry had initially reacted to the sentence by saying that the judges' decisions "should be carried out without interference from abroad", in the words of spokesman Mikhail Kamynin -- an apparent reference to the United States.
The US has distanced itself from the decision to execute Saddam, however, claiming the death sentence is a long-established part of Iraqi law and was handed out on the initiative of the Iraqi court.
Also on Wednesday, Russia's lower house, the Duma, passed by a large majority a measure that allows its moratorium on death sentences to be extended to 2010.
Russia has not formally abolished the death penalty, despite signing on to the European Convention of Human Rights which forbids executions in peace time.
However, it passed a regulation in 1999 which effectively prevented courts from sentencing people to death. The rule states that death sentences could not be given until local assizes courts had been set up in all parts of the country.
The only Russian region not to have such an institution is the breakaway Caucasus republic of Chechnya. Wednesday's measure postponed until 2010 the upcoming deadline for one of these courts to be set up in the territory, effectively extending the moratorium.
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