The end of capital punishment in Europe.

 

Special thanks are due to Matthew Spicer, Christian Schrepper, and Wolfgang Kruger for providing much of the data.
Europe is effectively abolitionist and it is extremely unlikely that any further executions will be carried out in the prevailing political climate. Abolition is a condition of membership of the European Union and it, as an organisation, vigorously opposes the death penalty worldwide.

Nobody has been sentenced to death or executed in any of the countries that are members of the Council of Europe in the 21st century. It introduced Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights to unconditionally abolish the death penalty in peacetime. This Protocol became available for member states to sign up from the 28th of April 1983. As of October 2004, 45 countries have adopted and ratified the Convention. Monaco has signed the Convention but not ratified it.

Since 1994, one of the conditions for new states to join the Council of Europe, has been the immediate institution of a moratorium on executions and a commitment to sign up to and ratify Protocol No. 6 within 1-3 years.  There is also a Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which abolishes the death penalty for all crimes (e.g. treason and military offences).  This has since become Protocol 13.
Only
Belarus and Uzbekistan continue to impose capital punishment.

 

An analysis of the situation in Europe and dates of last execution(s) by a country basis follows.

 

Albania.

Albania carried out its last civilian execution on or about the 29th of June 1995 by hanging.  The death penalty has been abolished for murder since September 2000 but has not been abolished for treason and military offences.  Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR came into force in Albania on the 1st of October 2000.

 

Andorra.

Andorra’s last execution for murder took place on the 18th of October 1943 when Antoni Areny was shot by a firing squad for the murder of his two brothers.  This was the only execution in the 20th century and capital punishment was totally abolished in 1990. Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR came into force in Andorra on the 1st of February 1996.

 

Armenia.

Armenia retains the death penalty for murder, treason and military offences. The last execution for murder, by a single bullet to the back of the head, took place on the 30th of August 1991. The name of the criminal is not known. Armenia signed up to Protocol No. 6 on the 25th of January 2001.

 

Austria.

Austria’s last execution took place on the 24th of March 1950 when Johann Trnka was hanged for murder. Capital punishment for murder was abolished on the 30th of June 1950 and for treason and military offences in February 1968. During the Nazi occupation of the country, (1938-1945), hanging was replaced by the guillotine. It was re-introduced by the British Military Authorities and remained as the sole method until abolition. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of March 1985. Austria is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Azerbaidzhan.

This country’s last execution for murder is thought to have taken place in 1993 by a single bullet to the back of the head. The death penalty was abolished in 1998. Azerbaijan signed Protocol No. 6 on the 25th of January 2001.

 

Belarus.

Belarus retains the death penalty although there are no details of its use released by the government. It is thought that there have been executions by shooting here in the 21st century.

 

Belgium.

The last execution for murder in Belgium took place on the 26th of March 1918 when 27 year old Emile Ferfaille was guillotined in the courtyard of Veurne Prison. Ferfaille, a military officer, was executed for killing his pregnant (civilian) girlfriend and was thus tried by a civil court.  His was the first execution since 1863. The death penalty for all crimes was abolished on the 1st of August 1996.

Some 242 people were executed by firing squads between November 1944 and August 1950 for crimes committed during World War 2. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of January 1999. Belgium is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina – The Federal Republic of.

Bosnian-Herzogovinian Federation.

It is thought that the last execution for murder here was carried out in 1975. The death penalty was abolished in November 1998 for all crimes.

 

Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Bosnia-Herzegovina abolished capital punishment for all crimes on the 21st of June 2000.

 

Bulgaria.

The last execution for murder was carried out by firing squad on the 4th of November 1989. Capital punishment was totally abolished on the 12th of December 1998. On the 20th of July 1990, Parliament introduced a moratorium on executions, although death sentences continued to be passed until November 1998.
Protocol No. 6 came into force on
the 1st of October 1999. Bulgaria is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Croatia.

It is thought that the last civilian execution took place in 1973. Shooting by firing squad replacing hanging from 1959, as it did throughout what was then Yugoslavia.
Capital punishment was totally abolished in 1990.
Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR was adopted on the 1st of December 1997 and Croatia has signed up to the Second Optional Protocol.

 

Cyprus.

The last executions for murder were of Hambis Zacharia, Michael Hiletikos and Lazaris Demetriou who were hanged on the 13th of June 1962 in Nicosia. The death penalty was abolished for murder on the 15th of December 1983 and totally on the 19th of April 2002. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of  February 2000. Cyprus is a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia).

The Czech Republic hanged Vladimir Lulek for the murders of his wife and 4 children on the 2nd of February 1989. The last execution in Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic which was at the time part of Czechoslovakia, took place on the 8th of June 1989 when Stefan Svitek was hanged at the Palace of Justice for a triple murder. The last execution for political crimes occurred in 1961. Capital punishment was totally abolished on the 1st of July 1990. Czechoslovakia ratified Protocol No. 6 on the 18th of March 1992.

 

Denmark.

Jens Nielsen became the last criminal to suffer, when he was beheaded with an axe on the 8th of November 1892, for the attempted murder of a prison officer at Horsens prison. This was the first and only private execution in Denmark. Capital punishment for murder was abolished by an Act on the 15th of April 1930, which came into force in 1933.

A new Act of parliament was passed in 1945 to deal with war criminals and 46 people were executed by firing squad under its provisions between then and 1950. Abolition for all crimes came into effect on the 1st of June 1978Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of March 1985. Denmark has also adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Estonia.

The last execution for murder was that of Rein Oruste, who was shot in the back of the head on the 11th of September 1991. The death penalty was totally abolished on the 18th of March 1998. Estonia signed up to Protocol No 6 on the 18th of March 1998.

 

Finland.

The last civilian execution in Finland, took place back on the 3rd of May 1825 when Juho Simonpoika Hautimäki was beheaded in Koski, Häme district, for the murder of his brother. Capital punishment was suspended in 1826 by the Czar, death sentences were automatically commuted to banishment to Siberia for a lifetime. In 1880 a new Penal Code was introduced, which came into force in 1894, which included capital punishment for treason, murder and military crimes by hanging. In 1915, two Fins were hanged for killing a Russian corporal, their innocence was later proved. In 1916, a Finnish merchant was hanged for espionage for Germany. Probably many others were hanged. Some 500 people were put to death by firing squad for crimes committed during World War 2 between 1939 and 1945. 1942 was the peak year for these and the last execution took place in 1944. The death penalty was abolished for murder on the 2nd of December 1949 and for all offences on the 5th of May 1972. Protocol No 6 came into force on the 1st of June 1990 and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR has been adopted.

 

France.

The last use of the guillotine in France was on the 10th of September 1977 when Hamida Djandoubi was executed for the rape, murder and torture of a girl. Death sentences continued to be passed until the 22nd of May when 3 men were condemned, but all were commuted when Law No. 91-908 of the 9th of October 1981 came into force the following day. The last execution for treason/military offences took place on the 11th of March 1963, that of Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel, Jean Marie Bastian-Thiery, who had been convicted of treason for trying to murder President de Gaulle. He was executed by firing squad at Fort d’Ivry. Protocol No 6 came into force on the 1st of March 1986.

 

Georgia.

The last execution for murder in Georgia was in 1995 by shooting with a single bullet. Capital punishment was abolished on the 11th of November 1997. Protocol No. 6 came into force in Georgia on the 1st of May 2000 and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR has been adopted.

 

Germany.

West Germany was one of the first countries to sign Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR in 1983. Following reunification, the treaty became binding in the whole of Germany on the 3rd of October 1990. Germany is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

East Germany (pre reunification).

Peter Albrecht and Karl Gorny became the last men to be executed for murder in East Germany when they were each shot with a single bullet on the 30th of January 1975. Death sentences continued to be handed down until 1986. Werner Teske was the last to die for treason/military offences when he was shot in Leipzig for treason on the 26th of June 1981. The death penalty was abolished on the 18th of December 1987. East Germany had used the guillotine up to 1968.

 

West Germany (pre reunification).

West Germany’s last execution for murder took place on the 10th of May 1949 when 24 year old Berthold Wehmeyer was guillotined in the Lehrter Strasse Prison in West Berlin. Hans Schmidt and 6 others suffered on the 7th of June 1951 for military offences. These were carried out under the jurisdiction of the Allied Powers.
Germany had a long tradition of decapitation by either the axe or the guillotine and had also used hanging during Hitler’s years in power.

The last execution in Germany (as distinct from West Berlin) was carried out on the 18th of February 1949 in Tubingen Prison when 28 year old Richard Schuh was guillotined for a robbery-murder.  This took place under the jurisdiction of the state of Wuerttemberg-Hohenzollern. The Federal Republic of Germany (or West Germany until 1990) was founded on May 23rd, 1949. Capital punishment was completely abolished by Article 102 of the Constitution on the same day.

 

Gibraltar.

Gibraltar’s last hanging for murder took place on the 3rd of July 1931 when 31year old Ernest Opisso went to the gallows. He was executed for the murder of his employer in the flat above her shop where they both worked. It was the first execution in Gibraltar since 1896. Two men were hanged on the 11th of January 1944 for offences committed during the war. They were Luis Lopez Corden-Cuenca, (aged 23) and Jose Martin Munoz, (aged 19). Capital punishment was abolished on the 8th of November 1965, in line with British practice, although death sentences continued to be passed up to 1952.

 

Greece.

The last execution for murder took place on the 25th of August 1972 when 27 year old Vassils Lymberis was shot by a firing squad. He had killed his wife, mother-in-law and two children on the island of Crete. The death penalty for murder was abolished in December 1993 but remains on the statute book for treason and military offences. Protocol No 6 was adopted from the 1st of October 1998 and later the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Greenland.

It is not known when Greenland carried out its last execution but it abolished capital punishment for murder on the 5th of March 1954.

 

Hungary.

The last execution for murder was carried out by hanging on the 31st of May 1988 and capital punishment was abolished on the 24th of October 1990. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of December 1990. Hungary has also adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Iceland.

Iceland was one of the earliest countries to cease using the death penalty. Its last executions were of Fridrik Sigurdsson and Agnes Magnúsdóttir for murder on the 12th of January 1830 by beheading. Capital punishment was abolished for murder in 1928 and for treason and military offences on the 12th of February 1940. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of June 1987. Iceland is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Republic of Ireland.

Twenty five year old Michael Manning was the last person to be hanged for murder when he was executed on the 20th of April 1954. The last death sentences for murder were two, passed on the 3rd of December 1985. The last execution for treason/military crimes took place on the 12th of November 1944 when Charles Kerrins was hanged.

Capital punishment was totally abolished on the 11th of July 1990. Protocol No. 6 was adopted from the 1st of July 1994. Ireland is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Italy.

Capital punishment was abolished for murder on the 10th of August 1944, however, the 10th of May 1945 saw the passing of Decree Law No. 234 which reintroduced the death penalty as an exceptional and temporary measure for armed robbery, robbery with violence and extortion. The last executions were carried on the 4th or 5th of March 1947 when 3 men were shot by firing squad for the murders of 10 people during a robbery at a farm. Giovanni D' Ignoti, Giovanni Puleo and Francesco La Barbero, were shot at a rifle range just outside the city of Turin. Between the 26th of April 1945 and December 1947, 88 people were executed by firing squads for treason and collaboration during the War. Abolition for these crimes finally took place in 1994. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of January 1989 and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR has since been adopted.

 

Latvia.

Latvia abolished the death penalty for murder on the 15th of April 1999, but still retains it for treason/military crimes.

The death penalty was last carried out in Latvia in January 1996 when Rolans Bertmanus-Lackeus was shot with a single bullet to the back of the head for murder. Death sentences continued to be passed for another year before abolition on the 15th of April 1999 for murder only. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of June 1989.

 

Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein has not carried out an execution since the 26th of February 1785, when Barbara Erni was beheaded in Eschen for theft. Liechtenstein continued to hand down death sentences up to 1978. Capital punishment for murder was abolished in 1979 and for treason and military offences on the 1st of January 1989. Protocol No. 6 became law on the 1st of December 1990. Liechtenstein is a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Lithuania.

Thirty five year old Boris Dekanidze became the last person to be executed (by a single bullet) for murder on the 12th of July 1995. Capital punishment was abolished for all offences on the 21st of December 1998. Lithuania ratified Protocol No. 6 on the 8th of July 1999, and it came into force in the country on the 1st of August 1999.

 

Luxembourg.

Luxembourg’s last execution for murder was carried out by a firing squad on the 7th of August 1948 (it was the first execution for murder there since 1821). The last of 9 executions for treason/war time offences was carried out on the 24th of February 1949. Abolition took place on the 17th of May 1949. Up to 1948, the guillotine had been the sole method of execution. Luxembourg became one of the first signatories of Protocol No. 6 on the 1st of March 1985. Luxembourg is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Macedonia.

It is thought that Macedonia’s last execution for murder (by firing squad) took place in 1988. Capital punishment was abolished for all offences in 1991. Protocol No 6 came into force on the 1st of May 1997.

 

Malta.

The last hangings for murder in Malta were those of Karmnu and Guiseppi Zammit on the 5th of July 1943. These were the last of eleven 20th century executions for murder, although death sentences continued to be passed on murderers until the 8th of October 1963. The last execution for crimes, other than murder, took place on the 28th of November 1942 when Borg Pisani, an Italian spy, was hanged for espionage.

The death penalty for murder was abolished on the 4th of October 1971 and for all offences on the 21st of March 2000. Protocol No. 6 came into force in Malta on 1 April 1991. This country is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Moldava.

It is thought that Moldava’s last execution for murder (by shooting with a single bullet) took place in 1985. Capital punishment was abolished for all offences on the 21st of February 1996. Protocol No. 6 came into force on 1 October 1997.

 

Monaco.

Monaco last guillotined a murderer in 1847, although it retained the death penalty up to the 17th of December 1962. It has yet to ratify Protocol No. 6.

 

Netherlands. (Holland).

The last execution for murder in the Netherlands took place on the 31st of October 1860 when 27 year old Johann Nathan was hanged. Capital punishment for murder was abolished 10 years later on the 17th of September 1870. It continued in force for treason and military offences and war crimes. Thirty nine people were executed for war related crimes, the last being W.A. Albrecht on the 21st of March 1952. Abolition for these crimes came on the 11th of April 1982. Protocol No. 6 was adopted on the 1st of May 1986. The Netherlands is also party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Norway.

Norway’s last execution for murder was that of Kristofer Nielsen Svartbaekken Grindalen, beheaded on the 25th of February 1876 in Loeten. Sofia Johannsdotter (female) was beheaded with an axe on the 18th of February 1876 in Halden. Jakob Alexander Jakobsen Wallin was beheaded on the 25th of January 1876 in Bergen. Abolition for murder came into law on the 1st of January 1905. Thirty seven people were executed by firing squads for treason and war related crimes between 1945 and the 29th of August 1948.  One of the last of these being Vidkun Quisling, who was shot at Akershus castle on October 24th 1945, a few days after conclusion of his trial for treason. He had been the Nazi appointed war-time prime minister. Abolition for these crimes came in 1979. Protocol No. 6 came into force in Norway on the 1st of November 1988, and it has since signed up to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Poland.

The last execution, by hanging, for murder was that of 41 year old Pawel Tuchlin at Gdansk prison, on the 5th of May 1987. (His nickname was Scorpion and he had killed nine women). Death sentences continued to be passed on murderers until 1995. Abolition for all crimes came into law on the 1st of September 1998. Poland signed up to Protocol No. 6 and Second Optional Protocol on the 3rd of May 2002.

 

Portugal.

Portugal was one of the earliest abolitionist countries having removed the death penalty for murder on the 1st of July 1867. The last hangings for murder took place on the 22nd of April 1846 in Lagos, when two young men were executed.  There were executions for treason and war related crimes during World War 1 but there are no details of these. The death penalty remained, although unused, for treason until April 1977. Protocol No. 6 came into force in Portugal on the 1st of November 1986. It is also party to the Second Optional Protocol.

 

Romania.

On Christmas day 1989, Romania’s former president, Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, were shot by firing squad in Targoviste. They were convicted of genocide, undermining the national economy and other offences.

The last execution for murder is thought to have taken place in 1989. Abolition for all offences came on the 7th of January 1990. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of July 1994. The country is also party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Russian Federation.

The Russian Federation has not formally abolished the death penalty although its last execution for murder took place on the 2nd of August 1996 when an unnamed man was shot with a single bullet to the back of the head. Between 1962 and 1990, it is thought that some 21,000 people  were executed, including 3,000 in 1962 alone for “economic” crime under the Soviet system. Protocol No. 6 has yet to be ratified by Russia.

 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, all the newly formed states retained the death penalty. Since then, 9 have abolished it - <Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Ukraine - and 4 have suspended it - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation and Tajikistan.

 

San Marino’s last hanging took place in 1468! Capital punishment was abolished for murder on the 12th of March 1848 and for all other capital crimes two years later. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of April 1989.

 

Slovakia.

Slovakia abolished capital punishment on the 1st of July 1990 when Slovakia was still a part of Czechoslovakia and ratified Protocol No. 6 in 1993, signing the Second Optional Protocol on the 22nd of September 1998.

 

Slovenia.

The death penalty for ordinary crimes was abolished in Sloveniain 1989 when it was still part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The last execution for murder took place by hanging in 1957. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of July 1994. Slovenia is also party to the Second Optional Protocol.

 

Spain.

Spain abolished the death penalty for murder on the 23rd of December 1978 and for all crimes on the 14th of November 1995. Executions were carried out by garrotte and firing squad. The last to suffer garrotting as a result of a death sentence passed by a civilian court was José María Jarabo who was executed on July the 4th,1959 for the murder of 4 people. Those executed after that were tried by military tribunals, and the last to be garrotted were Salvador Puig Antich and Heinz Chez on the 2nd of March 1974. The last to die by firing squad were 24 year old José Humberto Francisco Baena Alonso, 27 year old Ramón García Sanz and 21 year old José Luis Sánchez-Bravo Sollas, all of whom had murdered policemen in 1975. Twenty one year old Juan Paredes Manotas was shot in Barcelona for a similar crime, while 33 year old Angel Otaegui Echevarría was put to death in Burgos. They were all executed on the 27th of September 1975. Protocol No. 6 was adopted on the 1st of March 1985 and Spain is also party to the Second Optional Protocol.

 

Sweden.

The last execution for murder took place on the 23rd of November 1910 when 37 year old Johan Alfred Andersson Ander was guillotined in Langholmen Prison for the murder, during a robbery, of a clerk at an insurance company in Stockholm.

The death penalty for murder was removed on the 3rd of June 1921 and for treason and military crimes on the 1st of July 1973. Protocol No. 6 was adopted from the 1st of March 1985. Sweden is also party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

 

Switzerland.

Hans Vollenwider became the last murderer to be executed in Switzerland when he was guillotined on the 18th of October 1940 at Sarnen, in the half Canton of Obwalden. The death penalty for murder was abolished on the 1st of January 1942, however, it continued in force for treason and military crimes up to 1992. During World War II, a law came into effect prescribing the death penalty for treason and revealing military secrets. Seventeen people were put to death under this legislation, the last execution taking place on the 7th of December 1944. Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of November 1987. Switzerland is also party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. On the 18th of June 1782, Anna Goeldin became the last person in Europe to be executed for witchcraft, when she was beheaded in the Canton of Glarus.

 

Turkey.

The last execution for murder took place in 1983 and Turkey’s last execution was carried out on the 25th of October 1984 when 26 year old Hidir Aslan was hanged in Burdur Prison under military law for murdering 3 policemen.  Abolition for murder took place on the 8th of August 2002 but capital punishment remains for treason/military crimes. There has, however, been a moratorium on executions since 1984. Protocol No. 6 was adopted from the 9th of January 2004 and has ratified the Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms on the 26th of February 2006.

 

Ukraine.

The last execution for murder in the Ukraine took place on the 11th of March 1997 when an unnamed man was shot with a single bullet to the back of the head. Abolition for all crimes came on the 22nd of March 2000Ukraine has ratified Protocol No. 6 and it came into force on the 1st of May 2000.

 

United Kingdom.

Protocol No. 6 came into force on the 1st of June 1999. The United Kingdom is also party to the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR.

 

England.

The last executions were two by hanging, on the 13th of August 1964, when 21 year old Peter Allen and 24 year old Gwynne Evans were executed for their parts in the murder of John West.  Death sentences continued to be passed up to the 1st of November 1965, with abolition for murder taking place on the 8th of that month. This also covered Wales and Scotland. The last execution for treason was that of Theodore Schurch on the 4th of January 1946. The death penalty was totally abolished in the UK on the 1st of September 1998.

Northern Ireland’s last hanging for murder was that of 26 year old Robert McGladdery, carried out on the 20th of December 1961. Abolition for murder came on the 25th of July 1973 and death sentences continued to passed up to the 20th of April 1973. The last execution for treason/military crimes was that of Henry Joy McCracken in July 1798. Scotland’s last hanging was that of 21 year old Henry Burnett on the 15th of August 1963 at Aberdeen. The last hanging in Wales was that of 21 year old Vivian Teed on the 6th of May 1958.

The Isle of Man retained the death penalty up to the 6th of April 1993, although the last execution on the island had taken place on the 1st of August 1872 when 35 year old John Kewish was hanged. The next murder conviction did not come until 1973. The last death sentence was handed down on the 10th of July 1992 when Anthony Teare was condemned for murder.

Jersey’s last hanging was carried out on the 9th of October 1959 when Frances Hutchet was hanged for murder. The States parliament abolished capital punishment on the 25th of April 1986. Neighbouring Guernsey’s last hanging took place on the 10th of February 1854 when 31 year old John Tapner was executed. Guernsey abolished the death penalty on the 24th of August 1965.

 

Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan retains the death penalty, by shooting and in 2001, the Uzbek authorities said that about 100 people were executed annually there. It is impossible to obtain any accurate information on the situation in this country although it is thought that two men, Azizbek Karimov and Yusuf Zhumayev, were executed on 10 August 2004.

 

Vatican City State.

The Vatican City abolished capital punishment in 1969. The last execution in the Papal State (that subsequently became the  Vatican City) was of on the 9th of July 1870 at Palestrina, when Agabito (or Agapito) Bellomo was decapitated by (probably by guillotine) for murder.

 

Serbia & Montenegro.

Serbia.

The last execution for murder in Serbia was in February 1992, when an unnamed man was shot by firing squad. Capital punishment for all crimes was abolished on the 5th of November 2001.

 

Montenegro.

It is not known when the last execution took place in Montenegro. Abolition for murder came on the 18th of June 2002 although capital punishment remains available for treason/military crimes.

 

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