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Constitutional Court set to rule on death penalty

All Headlines 18:02 February 23, 2010

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Constitutional Court is set to rule for the first time in 13 years on whether to keep death penalty in the country's criminal code, officials said Tuesday.

The verdict, set for Thursday, is expected to be a watershed in a years-old debates over whether to scrap the punishment in the country that has not carried out any executions since late 1997.

The court had originally planned to deliver a verdict last year, but put it off, saying judges were sharply divided.

It will be the second time for the Constitutional Court to hand down a decision on capital punishment, which was ruled constitutional in 1996. The court, however, left the door open for future abolition.

The issue was raised again in the Constitutional Court in 2008 at the request of a fisherman who was sentenced to death for killing four tourists.

South Korea was categorized as a de facto abolitionist country in 2007 by Amnesty International, as it has not carried out the punishment since 23 people were executed in 1997.

A total of 902 people have been executed in the country since capital punishment was legalized in 1948. There are still 58 inmates on death row.


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