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Rights group says 2 Libyan politicians shouldn't face death penalty for election cartoons

Human Rights Watch has urged judicial authorities in Libya to drop criminal charges against two politicians facing the death penalty for using election posters deemed offensive to Islam.

The New York-based group said in a Thursday statement that international law requires countries to only apply the death penalty to severe cases.

Ali Tekbali and Fathi Sager from the National Libyan Party are charged with insulting religion, instigating sedition and harming national security. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

HRW says the charges stem from posters used in elections last year showing men discussing the role of women in Libyan society. One allegedly resembles the Prophet Muhammad as depicted in a cartoon published last year by a French magazine that offended Muslims.

Hearings in the case resume Oct. 13.