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Activists hail Illinois death clemency

London, Jan. 13 (Reuters): Activists around the world yesterday applauded the move by the governor of Illinois to spare death row prisoners from execution and urged President George W. Bush to follow his lead by abolishing the death penalty.

Gov. George Ryan commuted on Saturday the death sentences on more than 150 men and women to a maximum of life in prison without parole, declaring the execution system to be “broken.”

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International, which opposes all use of the death penalty, said Ryan’s announcement offered his fellow Republican Bush a golden opportunity.

“This is a chance for President Bush to bring the US in line with the world trend against the death penalty,” Amnesty spokesman Kamal Samari said. “He could take a moral stand and signal that the death penalty is not the deterrent to criminals it is presented as.”

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