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Syrian president sets life imprisonment for kidnappers


19:16, April 02, 2013

DAMASCUS, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a law Tuesday, setting the penalty of kidnapping crimes to life imprisonment with hard labor.

The law, announced by the state media, also provides for sentencing the kidnappers to death if the abducted person becomes permanently disabled, sexually abused or killed.

The law came as kidnapping incidents have become a regular occurrence in Syria, with many cases going unreported out of fear of reprisal.

The number of kidnappings for ransom has dramatically flourished in Syria, as kidnappers, either criminal gangs or insurgent groups, have turned abductions into a multi-million dollar business after setting the wealthy as targets.

The average ransom paid is reportedly between 500,000 and 15 million Syrian pounds (between about 7,100 and 213,000 U.S. dollars).

The Syrian authorities accuse the rebels that it refers to as " terrorist groups" of being behind the kidnappings to demand ransom to finance terrorist activities or just to kill government supporters. But they also acknowledge that many of the abductions are simply criminal.

Meanwhile, activists also accuse the government's security forces of using the kidnappings to tarnish the opposition.

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