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среда, май 9, 2007

Parliament approves first lady’s amnesty act


The Milli Majlis (parliament) on Tuesday passed an amnesty act affecting 9,000 people submitted by the president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva.

The measure was passed in honor of the late nationwide leader, former president Heydar Aliyev, over his 84th birthday anniversary, May 10.

In her address, Aliyeva said the amnesty acts issued by the former president promoted the development of civil society in the country and that he had always done everything in his power to advance this goal. The adoption of the new law is a continuation of these efforts, the first lady said.

“Heydar Aliyev wanted to see Azerbaijan as an independent, free, powerful, and prosperous state,” she added.

Aliyeva said that persons who committed crimes deserve to re-join their families and society as a whole.

“Even those who committed grave crimes should be released after a certain period of time and returned to [normal] life. The solution of any problem in society should dwell upon compassion and humanism,” she said.

Pro-government MPs supported the amnesty act, unlike pro-opposition lawmakers.

The leader of Umid (Hope) party, MP Igbal Agazada made a number of proposals. He said that first of all, the amnesty should be implemented not over three months, but only one month. Agazada also suggested releasing those arrested during the October 2003 riots in Baku that followed the presidential elections, the five jailed journalists and those he described as “political prisoners”. The MP also proposed to reduce the life imprisonment sentences of those whose jail terms were commuted after the abolition of the death penalty in Azerbaijan to just 15 years.

A group of MPs from opposition Musavat party boycotted the measure by refusing to take part in the vote. MP Panah Huseyn said that although the new amnesty act was one of the largest ones to date, the opposition was expecting a more comprehensive amnesty in terms of political and legal considerations.

After the discussions, the legislature passed the amnesty act without any changes or supplements by a unanimous vote of the 112 lawmakers.

The amnesty will release about 1,500 people serving prison sentences as well as cancel the measures of restraint for 7,500 others, including over 3,000 people who have failed to pay off the fines imposed by courts due to financial constraints. It will not affect persons convicted for terrorism, corruption and infliction of considerable financial damage.

Former president Heydar Aliyev had issued seven amnesty acts and 32 pardon decrees affecting 3,104 people during his tenure. His successor, President Ilham Aliyev, has enacted 10 such decrees to pardon 1,490 people since being elected president of Azerbaijan in 2003.*

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