Two Hundred Join Demonstration against Lebanon\'s Death Penalty
Around 200 protestors demanding the abolition of capital punishment in Lebanon demonstrated Wednesday near the cabinet headquarters, setting up fake gallows to make their point to the government.
Eight gallows were put up in the center of Beirut, behind which stood masked "hangmen" with effigies of criminals about to be executed at their feet, representing eight condemned prisoners currently on death row.
The death sentence is carried out by hanging for civilians and by firing squad for soldiers.
The demonstration was organized by the Movement of People's Rights.
Its spokesman Walid Slaibi told the press that the action follows word from the Lebanese leadership that it intends to carry out the death sentences which was blocked by former prime minister Salim Hoss.
Hoss refused last March to sign the decree of execution of two people, citing his "own convictions."
"I cannot act against my convictions. I cannot imagine signing any death sentence whatsoever. God gives life and only he can take it away," he said.
A total of 17 people have been executed in Lebanon since the 1994 adoption of a law setting judges' prerogative to cite mitigating circumstances in the case of premeditated murder.
The executions were carried out under the former president of the republic Elias Hrawi, with a counter signature of then prime minister Rafiq Hariri, who has since returned to that post.
The law stripping judges of their right to show leniency and the executions which followed have been strongly condemned by human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International.
Capital punishment is practiced in all Arab countries apart from Bahrain, and has also always existed in Israel, although it has only been carried out twice -- once in the case of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann -- BEIRUT (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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