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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
President rejects clemency plea
President Kalam
Kalam consulted the interior ministry before deciding
Indian President APJ Kalam has turned down a plea for clemency for a convicted rapist and murderer facing execution in Calcutta.

Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard, is to be hanged for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl in 1990.

Human rights groups oppose the execution and want the sentence to be commuted to life in prison.

In 1983, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that executions should be carried out in only the "rarest" cases.

The execution of Chatterjee was scheduled for 25 June but was put off following a federal order.

This followed appeals made by the convict's family and human rights groups.

It is not clear when the hanging will now take place.

Suicide threat

President Kalam made his decision after studying the views of India's interior ministry on the matter.

Human rights groups, along with leading writers and film-makers in Calcutta, had staged demonstrations to mobilise public opinion against the execution.

The convict's parents - father Bangshidhar, 76, and mother Purnima, 70 - had threatened to commit suicide if their son was executed.

They asked that if any execution were carried out it should be after they had died.

However, the BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says many parents have welcomed the president's decision.

Many favour a policy of zero tolerance for crimes against women and believe exemplary punishments are needed to deter criminals.

The death penalty is rarely carried out, usually only in particularly gruesome or politically sensitive cases.

The assassins of India's independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi, and former prime minister, Indira Gandhi, were among those executed in the past 50 years.

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