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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Death Penalty Nixed

RIGA, Latvia -- Latvia's parliament ignored calls by Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis to scrap the death penalty by voting to keep the law in a new criminal code.

Ulmanis slapped a presidential moratorium on the death penalty in September 1996, but parliament, voting in the third and final reading of the new criminal code Monday, backed keeping it.

Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs was quoted by the Baltic News Service as criticizing the vote, saying it meant that his country was not taking "pragmatic steps" to win European Union entry.

The EU does not demand an end to the death penalty to qualify for entry, but Latvia promised to scrap the law when it joined top European human rights body the Council of Europe in 1995.