Bulgarian Parliament Retains Life -Without-Parole Sentence
Bulgarian Parliament rejected Wednesday proposed amendments to the Penal Code for the abolition of the life-without-parole sentence.
The suggestion was backed by ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and opposed by ruling party GERB and far-right party Ataka, with right-wing Blue Coalition abstaining from the vote.
Through Wednesday's vote, the Parliament technically stifled the proposal of Bulgaria's Justice Ministry for an entirely new Penal Code envisaging life sentence as the gravest punishment that could be reduced for good behaviour.
According to Lyuben Kornezov, an MP from the Bulgarian Soicialist Party (BSP), life-without-parole is unpopular with modern European penal systems.
The prominent legal expert pointed out that the fight against crime must be based on the inevitability of the punishment, not on its severity.
Pavel Shopov, an MP from far-right party Ataka, remarked that BSP had always worked towards a reduction of the penal repression, stressing that the harshest sentence under the current Penal Code must stay in view of the aggravated crime situation in the country.
According to the existing legal framework in Bulgaria, the President is the one entitled to grant amnesty to offenders serving life without parole sentences.
During Wednesday's session, the Bulgarian Parliament also voted down the proposal of Hristo Biseriov, MP from Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), to introduce a penalty of up to four years in prison and a fine of BGN 5 000 - 10 000 for incitement to religious hatred. The existing Penal Code envisages such sanctions for incitement to ethnic and racial hatred.
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