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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Favors Resumption of Executions

  • VOA News

FILE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, during his meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 3, 2017.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said Wednesday he is in favor of resuming executions after more than a decade in response to rising murder rates.

The last execution in the southern African nation was in 2005.

Although he said his cabinet is divided on the issue, Mugabe said he favors lifting the moratorium on executions. "Let's restore the death penalty," he said, speaking at the burial of a political ally.

He did not say when it could happen but said that "if you hear people are being executed, know Mugabe's thinking has prevailed."

Zimbabwe's law allows for the death penalty for people convicted of murder "in aggravating circumstances." Women and offenders younger than 17 and older than 70 are exempt from executions.

Over 90 prisoners are on death row, according to official figures.

The hangman's job has been vacant in Zimbabwe for over a decade, but justice ministry permanent secretary Virgina Mabhiza has said recent months have seen a "flood" of applications in the economically struggling nation. Mabhiza said more than 50 people had applied.

Zimbabwe imposed eight death sentences last year, according to Amnesty International. The human rights group said 97 people were known to be facing death sentences in the country as of the end of 2016.

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