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Mongolian death row inmate receives pardon

Amnesty International has welcomed the news that Mongolian prisoner Buuveibaatar has had his death sentence commuted after being granted a pardon by the country's President, Ts. Elbegdorj. The 33-year-old was found guilty of murdering his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend in January 2008. His father claims the crime was committed in self-defence. “We applaud President Elbegdorj’s pardon, but it’s only a first step,” said Sam Zarifi, Director of Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Programme. “The Mongolian government should introduce a moratorium on the death penalty and commute the sentences of everyone currently still on death row in Mongolia.” Buuveibaatar was sentenced to death by the Bayangol District Court in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, on 1 August 2008. The day after the murder, Buuveibaatar was arrested and taken to Bayangol District police station, where he was interrogated overnight without access to a lawyer. His father says that Buuveibaatar confessed to the crime after he was beaten during interrogation in police custody . Buuveibaatar had exhausted all his means of appeal and his life could only be spared pursuant to a presidential pardon. He will continue to serve a prison sentence. At least five people were executed in 2008 in Mongolia, where all aspects of the death penalty are classified as state secrets. The families and lawyers of those on death row receive no prior notification of the execution and the bodies of those executed are never returned to their family. Conditions on death row are reported to be poor. “Amnesty International calls for the government to promptly implement all measures to move towards abolition of the death penalty, as stated in The National Human Rights Action Programme of Mongolia” added Sam Zarifi.