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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 January, 2004, 04:47 GMT
Death penalty resumes in Lebanon
Human rights protesters outside Beirut parliament
Dozens of activists protested outside Beirut's parliament
Lebanon has resumed capital punishment by executing three convicted murderers despite international protests.

The three were executed in Beirut's Roumieh prison early on Saturday - two by firing squad and one by hanging.

They were the first prisoners to face the death penalty in Lebanon since President Emile Lahoud came to power in late 1998.

The EU and human rights groups had urged the Beirut government not to carry out the sentences.

Under Lebanese law, a death sentence has to be approved by the president, prime minister and justice minister.

The men's families were permitted to spend half-an-hour with them on Friday night, but they were not allowed to be present at the executions.

'Hope dimmed'

The London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, had said Lebanon should build on the moratorium and move towards abolition of the death penalty.

DEATH SENTENCES
Badih Hamadeh - Islamic militant faced firing squad for shooting three security officers
Remi Antoine Zaatar - faced firing squad for killing three people in an armed robbery
Ahmed Mansour - hanged for shooting eight colleagues at a government office
"Beams of hope lit by a de facto five-year moratorium on the death penalty have been dimmed by Lebanon's decision to kill these men," a statement by the group said.

On Friday dozens of activists with black flags marched to the parliament building in Beirut to stage a lie-in.

Capital punishment was rare in Lebanon until 1994, when the law was tightened in an attempt to deter criminals in the aftermath of the 1975-90 civil war.

Fourteen people were executed in the following four years.

Soon after Mr Lahoud took power, Salim Hoss, an opponent of the death penalty, became prime minister and refused to sign any orders for execution.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Lebanon
11 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Lebanon
06 Aug 03  |  Country profiles



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