Natalee Holloway suspect may face death penalty

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President Alan García of Peru has said he wants to reintroduce the death penalty in his country. If the president has his way, Dutch murder suspect Joran van der Sloot could face execution. Legal obstacles, however, make it unlikely that Peru brings back the death penalty anytime soon.

Mr García was referring to child molesters and killers, saying that "certain crimes must be paid for with the criminal's life". The president argued that if Peru executed a hundred criminals a year, that would be proportionally the same as in China, "where 5,000 rapists, thieves and corrupt mayors were shot last year". "I would gladly decapitate 50 child rapists," Mr García told reporters. A recent poll showed that 80 percent of Peruvians favoured a return of the death penalty.

Joran van der Sloot is in detention in the Miguel Castro prison in Lima, on suspicion of killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in a hotel room in Lima. He had met the Peruvian woman at a poker tournament. The Dutchman is also held accountable for the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway on the island of Aruba in 2005, although he has never been formally charged. Van der Sloot is 22.

Capital punishment was abolished in Peru in 1979, except for cases of treason in wartime. The re-introduction of capital punishment would necessitate a change in the Peruvian constitution, which requires two readings by successive parliaments. Justice Minister Victor García pointed out earlier this week that both Peru's constitution and the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights forbid the implementation of the death penalty.


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