Death row inmates in Zimbabwe ask for life sentences instead

Inmates who have spent years on death row in Zimbabwe's harsh prisons approached a court to have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court heard the accounts of 15 inmates. Cuthbert Chawira, a murder convict on death row for 15 years, said in an affidavit it should be unconstitutional to execute him because of the torture he has already endured.

Attorney Tendai Biti said his clients describe shocking prison conditions.

Vice President and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is in charge of authorizing executions, refuses to sign any execution orders for Zimbabwe's nearly 100 death row inmates due to his personal objections to the death penalty.

Before Mnangagwa took office, Zimbabwe had not executed anyone since 2005 because there was no qualified executioner.