Vietnamese law to allow corrupt officials will escape death penalty if they pay back bribes

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Death sentences imposed on corrupt Vietnamese officials will now be commuted to life in prison if they pay back at least 75 percent of the illegal money they made.

The online newspaper VnExpress said the new regulation was part of the revised Penal Code unanimously passed by the National Assembly on Friday.

The ruling Communist Party has made fighting corruption as one of its top priorities.

The revised code, which takes effect July 1, will also abolish the death penalty for seven crimes: surrendering to the enemy, opposing order, destruction of projects of national security importance, robbery, drug possession, drug appropriation, and the production and trade of fake food.

International human rights groups and some Western countries have been urging Vietnam to abolish its death penalty.