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Italy to campaign at UN for death penalty ban
Says Italy will campaign at UN for world-wide ban on death penalty
Romano Prodi, Italian Prime Minister

Italy's Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, says that Italy will plan a set of activities at the United Nations to help make it illegal for any country in the world to carry out the death penalty. David Willey reports from Rome in Italy:

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Romano Prodi, the leader of the current centre-left coalition, said Italy will lobby actively at the United Nations for an end to capital punishment worldwide. The Italian ambassador to the UN has already called upon the General Assembly to re-examine a document already presented for debate last month. Italy took up one of the ten non-permanent seats on the Security Council this week.

Mr. Prodi said at the weekend that no crime can justify one person killing another. This is a principle which all civilisations and religions share, he said. Italy presented proposals for a moratorium on the death penalty at the UN assembly in 1994 and again in 1995 and last July the Italian parliament approved a cross-party motion urging the government to table yet another moratorium proposal but this came to nothing because of disagreement among Italy's EU partners.

Politicians from both left and right have been expressing disgust at the execution of Saddam Hussein. The former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, called his hanging "a political and historic error". The outcry has also been reflected by almost universal condemnation in the Italian press of the press leaks and videos of the hanging of the former Iraqi leader. The semi official Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, said the transformation of the final moments of Saddam Hussein's life into a public spectacle was a violation of a fundamental human right.

The Iraqi government has said that Italy has no right to criticise Saddam Hussein's execution when, at the end of the Second World War, the fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, was killed by partisans and left hanging by his feet in a Milan square to the derision of the crowds. Mussolini's granddaughter, Alessandra, a right-wing MP, joined in the argument saying she found the killing of Saddam Hussein disgusting and shameful.

David Willey, BBC News, Rome

Listen to the words

give a good excuse or reason for doing something

an official period of delay, waiting, temporary stopping or suspension of an activity

a cross-party motion
a proposal for a new law which is supported by all political parties

came to nothing
failed; the desired result was not achieved

universal condemnation
strong disapproval from everybody

press leaks
private or secret information which is given to the media, often by someone who does not have permission to do so

a show or display, often embarrassing or degrading, intended to be seen by a large number of people

basic, essential

a ruler who has absolute power and complete control, often of a country or state

unkind laughter, ridicule, mockery, contempt

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