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Guatemala legislature passes bill to restore death penalty

[JURIST] The Guatemalan Congress [official website] voted to restore the death penalty Tuesday, passing a bill [press release, in Spanish] that ends a six-year moratorium on executions imposed by the Constitutional Court [official website] in 2002. Under the new law, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom [official profile] will have to decide whether to grant clemency to the 24 inmates currently on death row or to order their executions to take place. Each prison sentence would be commuted to 50 years, which is the maximum sentence permitted under Guatemalan law. Colom, sworn into office last month [AP report], is an opponent of the death penalty and will have 30 days to grant clemency individually to each inmate.

In 2002, former President Alfonso Portillo [Wikipedia profile] directed the Constitutional Court to set the capital punishment moratorium in Guatemala [JURIST news archive], concluding that a 1892 law permitting commutation was unclear as to which part of the government had jurisdiction to grant clemency. The Constitutional Court granted the moratorium, stating that it was Congress' job to amend the law. IANS has more.

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