Child's murder revives capital punishment debate in Latvia

LativaRiga  - The murder of a young girl has sparked a debate over the re-introduction of the death penalty in Latvia.

Eleven-year old Daina was found with her throat cut in bed in the town of Bauska.

Her father, Ivars Grantins, confessed to the killing after emerging from hiding three days after the August 27 attack.

"I think people like that have no place in society," Justice Minister Gaidis Berzins told Latvian national radio this week.

"This view might be unpopular, but situations like this require renewed debate on the suitability of not having capital punishment," he said.

Investigators said they plan to ask for psychiatric tests on Grantins, who has a record of sex crimes and violent assault.

Latvia abolished the death penalty in 1996 in order to meet a requirement for joining the European Union in 2004.

"We have to remember that we have these obligations, but at the same time we know there are crimes for which the penalty is still death in the US and many other democratic countries," Janis Smits, chairman of parliament's human rights committee, was quoted as saying Friday by the newspaper Diena.

In an interview with Latvian television on Thursday evening, Interior Minister Mareks Seglins said he supported a re-introduction of the death penalty.

"If we are in the European Union, we have to adhere to its standards, but I'd like to remind you that I was against the abolition of the death penalty," he said, adding his blief that there are people who never change their behaviour. (dpa)

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