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Russia drug chief opposes death penalty

Oct. 7, 2009 at 9:43 AM

MOSCOW, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Russia's police and courts can't be trusted with wielding the death penalty against drug dealers, the country's anti-drug chief says.

Viktor Ivanov, director of the Federal Drug Control Service, told the Moscow daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta that Russia's moratorium on the death penalty should not be lifted for drug crimes because the potential for misuse is too great, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

"It is not ruled out that with our judicial practice, still far from perfect, death penalty will be used in regard to a large percentage of people who are not drug dealers," Ivanov said, voicing worries that many young people could fall victim to dishonest police under those circumstances.

He said there are many cases in Russia in which people are arrested on false accusations of being drug dealers, saying, "They are just drug addicts, but are made drug pushers for better reporting."

Instead, Ivanov advocated for the creation of special drug courts such as those in the United States, where "when minor crimes are committed, drug addicts are offered an alternative: compulsory treatment and rehabilitation instead of jail," RIA Novosti reported.

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