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Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Published at 12:38 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Turkmenistan suspends death penalty

The Turkmen President, Saparmurat Niyazov, has announced a moratorium on capital punishment.

Making the announcement at a meeting with members of the Supreme Court, he said parliament would change the constitution accordingly next December.

It was not clear how long the moratorium would last.

The Interfax news agency said some seven hundred people were sentenced to death last year, ninety per cent of them for drug trafficking.

It did not say how many were executed.

Amnesty has said more than one hundred people were executed in 1996.

Kyrgyzstan is the only other central Asian country to have suspended the death penalty for two years. starting last December

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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