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Criminals in Syria to have sentences cut under Assad amnesty | World News



Criminals in Syria, including those convicted of some of the most serious offences, will have their sentences cut as part of an amnesty by President Bashar al Assad.

Those who were given the death penalty will now have a life sentence of hard labour, while life terms will be cut to 20 years in jail.

In Syria, the death penalty can be for crimes including treason, espionage, murder, arson resulting in death, desertion of the armed forces to the enemy, violent robbery and terrorism.

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For civilians, the method of execution is hanging, while military personnel are shot.

Also under the amnesty, draft dodgers inside the country will be pardoned if they report for duty within three months, while those abroad will have six months to enlist.

Aid agencies say the fear of conscription and punishments for avoiding it are among the reasons refugees give for not returning home.

The Assad decree relates to crimes committed before 14 September, and prisoners with incurable diseases including cancer will be freed.

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But there are exceptions to the amnesty.

They include Syrians who took up arms to fight the regime, and those who colluded with foreign nations against Syria or joined insurgents that Damascus sees as terrorists.

Other exceptions include drug crimes and arms smuggling.

72nd Cannes Film Festival - Photocall for the film "For Sama" presented as part of a special screening - Cannes, France, May 16, 2019.  Director Waad Al-Kateab poses during a photocall for the documentary film "For Sama" presented as part of special screenings. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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In a 2018 report, Amnesty International said the death penalty remained in force for many offences, but authorities disclosed little information about death sentences passed and no information on executions.

Since Syria’s uprising began in March 2011, sparking a civil war, similar amnesties have been issued on several occasions – most recently last year.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran will meet in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday to discuss the situation in Idlib province which has been under attack from government forces since 30 April.

A truce has been holding despite some violations since the end of August.

Russia and Iran are strong backers of Mr Assad and have helped his forces reclaim control of most of the country from different rebel factions and jihadists.

Turkey supports the Syrian opposition.

The war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced half the population.

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One dead, several injured as gunman opens fire at Florida navy base | US News



One person has been killed and several others are injured after a gunman opened fire in a navy base in Florida.

Escambia Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amber Southard confirmed the gunman had also been killed after the shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

News outlets are reporting that 10 people have been taken to area hospitals.

Pensacola Police spokesman Mike Wood confirmed that law enforcement responded to the gunman.

A spokesman for the navy base, Jason Bortz, said both gates are closed and the base is on lockdown.

NAS Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to its website.

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Blind killer Lee Hall who set fire to ex-girlfriend is executed in Tennessee | US News



A blind convicted killer who murdered his ex-girlfriend by setting her on fire has been executed in the US.

Lee Hall is only the second blind inmate to be executed in America since the country reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

He was put to death by electric chair – after choosing the method over lethal injection – at a maximum-security prison in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday evening.

Hall was convicted of killing 22-year-old Traci Crozier by setting her on fire in her car in April 1991.

The 53-year-old, who was formerly known as Leroy Hall Jr, had his sight upon entering prison, but lawyers say he became functionally blind from improperly treated glaucoma.

In his final words, Hall said: “People can learn forgiveness and love and will make this world a better place.”

According to court documents, Hall set Ms Crozier’s car alight while she was inside the vehicle after she had tried to leave him.

She suffered burns across more than 90% of her body and died in hospital the next day.

Ms Crozier’s sister, Staci Wooten, and her father, Gene Crozier, watched Hall’s execution. Hall’s brother David and the killer’s “spiritual adviser” also attended.

Ms Wooten said: “Hopefully today ending this monster’s life will bring some peace within everyone who has had to suffer throughout these 28 years without my beautiful sister.”

Lawyers for Hall had asked federal courts in the US to stop him from being put to death after other attempts in state courts and with Tennessee’s governor had failed.

Those attempts officially came to a halt less than hour before Hall’s execution when the US Supreme Court declined to intervene.

A statement from Hall’s brother David said: “We are devastated by the loss of Traci and now Lee.

“Lee loved Traci more than anything and we welcomed her into our family and love her too. We also love Lee and wish that we could have changed the events of that tragic day.”

Hall’s lawyers fought for months to delay the execution plan, arguing that courts should have had the opportunity to consider new questions about one of the jurors in his case.

The juror – a woman known as “Juror A” – helped hand down the death sentence against Hall.

She acknowledged publicly for the first time this year that she failed to disclose during Hall’s jury selection process that she had been repeatedly raped and abused by her former husband.

Hall’s lawyers argued the omission deprived him of a fair and impartial jury, a right protected in both the Tennessee and US constitutions

However, both the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declined to intervene.

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Manchester United sign deal with Alibaba in China | Business News



Manchester United have signed a partnership deal with Alibaba – the Chinese e-commerce company.

Under the arrangement, aimed at raising the Premier League side’s profile in the world’s second-largest economy, Alibaba will provide club content on its online video platform

The deal will also lead to the creation of a Manchester United store on Alibaba’s business-to-consumer platform, the club said.

Manchester, UK - May 19 2018: The United Trinity bronze sculpture which composed with George Best, Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton in front of Old Trafford stadium
The Old Trafford club say the exclusive partnership extends engagement with its ‘massive fan base’ in the country

Manchester United Group managing director Richard Arnold said: “We are always looking for new ways to engage with fans there and this partnership with Alibaba enables them to connect with the club directly through one of China’s most popular video streaming platforms.”

The club, which already has an established fan base in the country, said that the deal gave it access to approximately 700 million Alibaba customers across various platforms.

Youku viewers, it said, would be able to view academy and club tour matches in addition to women’s games.

Broadcast rights deals prevent the showing of Premier League and other first team fixtures.

Alibaba president Michael Evans added: “Manchester United is one of the most popular and successful football teams in the world, with a sizeable and passionate fan base in China.

“We share the same goal, which is to provide fans with one-of-a-kind online content consumption and shopping that leverages the latest technology.”

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