Zimbabwe aims to cut back on hangings

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Zimbabwe's constitutional affairs minister says the death penalty will be dropped except in extreme cases of aggravated murder under a proposed new constitution.

Minister Eric Matinenga said Wednesday only killers who commit "gratuitous violence to the extent it becomes sickening" will be hanged.

In a compromise between human rights groups and traditional supporters of capital punishment, it will be up to judges to rule on the level of violence used.

Matinenga said the fate of at least 61 prisoners on death row will be considered on individual merits if the measure is adopted in a September constitutional referendum.

No executions have been carried out under the three-year old coalition government. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's former opposition party has voiced its disapproval of hanging.