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Archive for Monday, April 17, 2006

President commutes death sentences

April 17, 2006

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— The president of the Philippines said in an Easter announcement that she would commute the death sentences of some 1,200 convicts, including about a dozen al-Qaida-linked militants.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the death sentence would be commuted to life in prison for everyone on death row. Her justice minister said the government would commute all future death sentences as well.

At least 11 Islamic militant members of Abu Sayyaf, a small al-Qaida-linked group blamed for deadly bombings and kidnappings, are on death row.

It was unclear how many inmates actually would be affected by the new policy, which appeared intended to mollify Roman Catholic leaders critical of Arroyo's administration.

Under the constitution, the president can only commute death sentences that have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The court has only upheld about 100 death sentences and the rest remain under legal review.

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