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Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 17:08 GMT
Madagascar death penalty defended
Madagascar's justice minister has personally defended the death penalty after a UN draft resolution called for member countries to end the practice.

Her comments also come several days after 12 people were sentenced to death for murder and rebellion on the island.

The case centred on a deadly land dispute in which a village revolted against attempts to evict residents.

Correspondents say no executions have been carried out in Madagascar since independence in 1960.

Mass revolt

Justice Minister Bakolalao Ramanandraibe told the BBC that her views on the death penalty were personal and should not be taken as the Indian Ocean island's official line.

She added that she was not prepared to comment on the land dispute case which saw 12 death sentences being handed down on Wednesday.

The BBC's Jonny Hogg in the capital, Antananarivo, says in total 92 people were charged in the case.

Besides the death sentences, some were jailed for five years, others were sentenced to hard labour, he says.

The dispute began five years ago when a businessman bought the land around Analovary village, 90km west of the capital, for a tourist development.

In August 2006, police from the capital were dispatched to the village to remove the residents but were met with fierce resistance.

The villagers rose up en masse and two policemen were stoned to death and a villager was shot dead in violence.

The villagers claim they had been living on the land for generations.

The court upheld the prosecution's view that their actions constituted both murder and rebellion.

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