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Turkmen Parliament Amends Criminal Code

ASHGABAT -- The Turkmen parliament has approved a new edition of the country's Criminal Code that reduces the maximum sentence for the most serious crimes, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

The amendments to the existing Criminal Code passed in parliament on May 10 include reducing from 25 years to 15 years the maximum term of imprisonment for violent crimes and introducing a system of fines as an alternative to being jailed.

The new version also includes articles aimed at combating terrorism and economic crimes. It also aims to improve legal practices.

Timirhan Nasrihanov, leader of the Turkmenistan Association of Lawyers in exile, told RFE/RL that the amendments could permit the adoption of a special decree on the release of political prisoners sentenced for "serious crimes" under President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December 2006.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who succeeded Niyazov as president, said in a speech to the State Security Council in March that the country's legal system must be improved to conform to international standards.

Berdymukhammedov is expected to sign the new edition to the Criminal Code to make it law.